Your Australian University Orientation Survival Guide
I cannot believe that plane tickets are being booked! I really can’t believe we’re well into “predeparture” and are starting to quickly get to orientation time—both with your Australian university and with OzTREKK!
I will not lie: OzTREKK Orientations are my single-most exciting time of the year. Beyond the whole “skipping winter” thing, there’s something a little magical about being able to observe, first-hand, so many lives changing. I tell all my friends that I really do feel our office is lucky to play even a teeny role as our students are on their way to becoming doctors, dentists, physios, vets.
The first thing I want to promise you is that something is going to go wrong.
Our goal at the office is to try to ensure that the thing that goes wrong isn’t giant—but just be prepared. You’re travelling around the world, you’re losing days, you’re bringing luggage and your stomach is full of nerves. A little hiccup here or there is really a part of the experience, right? 😊
Anyway, outside of trying to remain as calm as possible, I thought I’d put together a few tips for you to try to make your first few weeks in Australia a really exciting and enjoyable time:
Be mentally (and physically) prepared for the weather
You’re leaving in the worst of winter and you’re arriving in the best / worst of summer. Take your vitamin C, drink water and get a lot of rest—your body is going to need it. You are going to have a shock. In OzTREKK Orientation 2015, I left Ottawa with a -40 degree wind-chill and I landed in Brisbane where it was a steamy +33. It was hot. I mean, it’s great when you settle but it’s a bit of a shock to the ol’ body!
Give yourself some time
I totally understand the desire to maximize every minute at home, but don’t forget that you’re making such a giant investment in time and money that you don’t want to short-change it! We recommend giving yourself at least a week to settle, get over jet lag, get your bearings, meet some people and be prepared for the start of classes. If you are hunting for housing when you arrive, you will want to give yourself at least two weeks. If the stars align and you have a week off, then get yourself to a beach, explore your city and try to embrace the Aussie lifestyle!
Attend the OzTREKK Orientation
In the leading-up to your orientation, you received an invitation to attend an OzTREKK breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Depending on the number of the students, it may be a casual fish and chips, or it might be a large breakfast. Either way, I promise you, you will not regret going.
Last year at the UQ MD orientation, I remember thinking that all participants got a head-start: their tour involved the best places to sit in class, tips on the anatomy labs, the secret study spots, and guidance on how to start out strong on your PBL. It really was valuable! And it also means that you’ll get a really great opportunity to network with your future cohort. You’ll meet people in your program and not. You’re going to be there for years, so take this opportunity to make some friends when you land!
Get out and explore
Sometimes with all the prep of immunizations, enrollment, offers and deposits, this fact can be lost: you are going to study at a world-class institution in Australia! ENJOY it! Spend a little time and prep your “before I leave bucket list” and do some dreaming. You’re in an incredible country and there is a lot to see. Explore the little things (the great night market in the Gold Coast) to the big things (um, the Great Barrier Reef?)—there is a lot to do everywhere. I remember a rural dental student years ago saying, “If you’re bored, it’s not because of your surroundings.”
Anyway… the clock is ticking and the days are sliding by. I can’t wait to get on that plane (I’m a person who loves the plane—a delightful mix of sleep and so much TV)!
See you all in Oz!