How to make the move to university
You’ve finished your final exams, accepted your uni offer and started daydreaming about all the exciting things you’ll do when you become a university student.
But you might also be a feeling a level of uncertainty if you’re moving from a regional or remote location, or a different state or country, to study at your university of choice.
Starting university is an exciting time but it’s natural to also experience some nerves when you’re moving away from home, your community and everything else that’s familiar.
To help you feel prepared, we share some tips on moving away from home to study, as well as some advice from those who’ve done it.
Making the move
Once you’ve accepted your university offer, it’s time to find a place to live. That might sound daunting – but don’t fret. With time and planning, you’re bound to find somewhere that works.
A great place to start is to check what accommodation support is available at ACU’s scholarships browser. If you’re moving from a regional area, apply the filter for rural or regional applicants, which sits under the ‘more filters’ option. Considering living in student accommodation? Choose the ‘accommodation’ filter under scholarship type.
Third-year physiotherapy student Jaimie Bryant moved from Katherine to Brisbane to study at ACU. She applied for a few scholarships, and an accommodation scholarship was among the two she received.
“It meant free accommodation, which was the biggest help,” she said. “I probably wouldn’t have been able to come if I hadn’t have got that.
“There are so many scholarships and I feel as though people don’t apply for them – and they should. I advise anyone relocating to apply for scholarships if you’re eligible.”
You should also visit the Australian Government’s StudyAssist website to see if you make the cut for relocation payments or living expenses while at uni, and read our guide to managing your money.
When it comes to the type of accommodation to choose, here are some things to consider:
Do you want to live in a student-friendly area? Live close to campus? Or are you budget conscious and prefer to live somewhere in the outer suburbs that’s close to public transport links?
Does the accommodation you’re looking at have good reviews? Are you able to inspect the property? Unless you are booking student accommodation, it’s always best to inspect the property in person.
How much are you thinking of spending on rent? Do the properties you’re considering match your budget?
Do you want a home of your own or are you keen to live with housemates?
If you need any help or advice with moving to study at ACU, or you have issues once you’re renting, you can contact the ACU Rental Advisory Service at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Being a superstar housemate
Share housing can be fun and it’s a great way to meet new friends, but disagreements with your housemates can happen.
If you’re living out of home for the first time, the ACU Rental Advisory Service shares these tips on being a superstar housemate:
Pay your rent on time – this will help you remain on good terms with your housemates and your landlord.
Help with cleaning – and make sure you chat with your housemates to understand cleaning expectations and schedules.
Be respectful. Establishing good relationships with your housemates from the get-go will help you understand everyone’s expectations around noise, parties and visitors. This will keep everyone on the same page.
Meeting new people
As scary as it may feel to put yourself out there, meeting new people and making friends is one of the most important ways to settle in to a new place.
Mikela Zubiate moved from Lima, Peru to study commerce at ACU North Sydney. She found it hard to leave her family and friends to move abroad, particularly given the time difference between the two countries, and her biggest advice for others in her shoes is to be social.
“You should push yourself to meet people,” she said. “It’s much easier to meet people at the start, and while it may push you out of your comfort zone, after a couple of weeks you’ll be so glad that you pushed through the discomfort.”
For Jaimie Bryant, making friends was also the best thing she did to start to feel at home.
“As uncomfortable as it is, try to put yourself out there,” she said. “It took me a while to step out of my comfort zone. I was friends with the people in my apartment, but I didn’t know anyone in my cohort at uni – I was very shy, and it took me a full year to get comfortable.”
Adjusting to your new home
It takes Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation) student Shannon O’Brien about five hours to travel from Sydney to her hometown of Young in rural NSW. She found urban life tricky in her first year.
“Something challenging for me was adjusting to the size and general busy-ness of the city, since my hometown isn’t even big enough to warrant having public transport,” she said.
Nonetheless, she’s found the independence of uni life rewarding and has enjoyed the social opportunities that come with living in ACU student accommodation.
Shannon’s advice for students who want to move away from home to study is simple.
“Be prepared to take many, many big steps. Moving away is just the first step. Finding yourself, making friends and putting yourself out there are all steps that will feel just as big. But you can do it – you just have to give yourself a chance.”
Think about what you miss about being at home. Is it the people, the quiet, the bush, the beach, your animals? Once you’ve identified things you miss that make you feel happy and connected, you can try to bring a sense of those into your days at uni.
For example, if you miss your family and friends, you could set up a weekly video call with your best friend, create a group chat with your family, or decorate your room with photos of loved ones. If you miss nature, find somewhere around your new home where you can reconnect with the outdoors.
Still feeling nervous?
Relocating for study is a major change and it’s OK to have nerves. Every one of the students we spoke to felt nervous before their big move – and every one of them was glad they did it.
The last word goes to Cara Dowse-Collyer, who moved from Upsalls Creek on the NSW Mid-North Coast to study at ACU Strathfield.
“My advice to students considering moving away from home is just do it! I feel like everyone should move away from home at some point in their lives, even if for a short time. It changes your perspective and helps you grow as a person.
“Just make sure to save money and set yourself a weekly budget. Put yourself out there and push yourself to be confident and make new friends. And honestly, just get amongst it, enjoy it for what it is and get out of your comfort zone.
“If you don’t like it, you can always move home, but at least you will have tried and won’t regret missing out on opportunities.”
If you’re ready to make the move, we’re ready to support you. Explore ACU student accommodation options, accommodation scholarships and rental advice.