DVM International Student Guide

This advice is provided by international DVM students and the Veterinary Students Society of Victoria (VSSV).

Hi and congratulations! You have made it!

My name is Hwaylee and I am the International Student Representative for the Veterinary Student Society of Victoria (VSSV), the association responsible for representing the DVM student body.

Although it is uncertain as to when we will all be able to meet in person, rest assured that you are now a part of the University of Melbourne DVM family!

On this page you will find information about life in Melbourne and the DVM program. Although some of this information may not be immediately relevant to your start at vet school, I hope it is helpful when the time comes for you to join us here in Melbourne.

There is some information at the bottom of this page addressing academic related questions, but rest assured that there will be more opportunities for us to speak to you specifically about the coursework during our Orientation Week.

If you have any questions or concerns about anything, please feel free to contact me at:
downeyh [at] student.unimelb.edu.au

I look forward to meeting you all during the Orientation Week, either in person or online.

Good luck!

Housing

Where to Live

  • Students live anywhere from the surrounding suburbs of the Parkville campus, to those up to an hour away by public transport.
  • Both scenarios have their positives and negatives. The closer to the city a property, the more expensive it will be, but it is more convenient for getting to class and Werribee, as well as offering the typical social benefits of city life. Living further away means cheaper rent, but longer commute times to campus and social events.
  • The suburbs to consider if you desire a closer location to campus are (in no particular order) the CBD, Parkville, Carlton, South Melbourne, Richmond, Brunswick, South Yarra, Southbank, Flemington, Travancore, Prahran, West Melbourne, North Melbourne, Fitzroy, St. Kilda, and Kensington. Each suburb listed has its own unique culture (the suburbs here are like mini towns), and most have trams that directly lead to the vet school.
  • Prahran, Brunswick, South Yarra, Fitzroy, St Kilda, and Richmond have trams and/or trains that lead to the city center and connect to trams which go directly to the vet school.
  • Further away from campus encompasses many suburbs, however, if you live nearby a train station in a suburb that is <30 minutes by train, you can easily commute into the city center (Melbourne Central Station or Flagstaff Station) and connect to a tram that goes directly to the vet school. To check train commute times, go to http://ptv.vic.gov.au and type in the name of the train station in question, with Melbourne Central or Flagstaff listed as the destination.
  • Have a look at the Suburb Guide online.

Finding Housing

  • Good websites for finding houses/apartments/rooms for rent include:

  • Good websites for finding housemates (and also rooms for rent) include;

  • The University of Melbourne also has an online housing noticeboard, housing.unimelb.edu.au
  • If you plan on setting up your own lease either by yourself or with some friends/future classmates, I suggest arriving a couple weeks early to get the situation sorted.  It is very difficult to sign up for a new lease (especially through a real estate agent) when you are not in the country, unless you organize it through a specified student housing complex or service. It can also be very competitive so be sure to give yourself enough time and options.
  • An alternative to renting from an agency or private landlord is to secure a place in one of the colleges (dorms/residence halls).  Applications and information for these can be found online at colleges.unimelb.edu.au. This is essentially dorm-style living (individual rooms with a desk, bed, shared bathroom facilities, etc.) close to/on campus.  Many colleges also offer academic tutorials, intercollegiate sport, library access, 3 meals a day, plus additional amenities depending on the college. Some colleges will also provide scholarships for graduate student.

Tenancy

  • There are official rules to follow when renting a place, and every year there are some international students that are not aware of these, ultimately losing their bond/security deposit money due to shady landlords.
  • The university website services.unimelb.edu.au/housing has useful links to get you acquainted with the rental process.
  • For further information from the state of Victoria, follow this link http://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/housing-and-accommodation/renting
  • The main ideas these sites express are that every lease must have a contract, the bond must be lodged with the RTBA (Royal Tenancies Bond Authority), and a condition report must be completed when signing the lease.
  • When setting up a new rental, you’ll have the option to lease a property directly from a property owner, or from a rental agency.  Rental agencies require the aforementioned documents and are official about everything – these are trustworthy.  Private landlords, however, can be a bit shadier, and have been known to convince prospective tenants to pay them a bond directly instead of lodging it with the RTBA.  If a bond is not lodged with the RTBA, it is harder to trace the money/there may be no trace of the money, and the landlord has the ability to keep your bond.  This is illegal, and should be a red flag for prospective tenants when negotiating the terms of a lease.  Do not sign any contract without officially having your bond lodged with the RTBA, and completing a condition report.
  • If you are joining a share house, the above conditions still apply.  Make sure everything is done officially in writing!
  • Be sure to report any scratch, paint marks or damaged items before signing the contract especially if you are staying in student accommodations.
  • Some advice:
    • Never sign a lease without first seeing the house or apartment. If you can't view the property yourself, ask a trusted friend to look at it for you.
    • Make sure you have a copy of the lease and a receipt for the bond.

Rent

  • Rent is usually listed on a per week basis, but is usually paid monthly.
  • The bond is usually equivalent to one month’s rent, and rent for the first month is paid up front.
  • Rent doesn't always include utilities (water, electricity, wifi, etc.), or have heating/air conditioning, you should ask about this before you sign a lease.
  • Average weekly rent in the city and immediate suburbs for the respectively sized apartments/houses is as follows:
    • 1 bedroom apartment: $300-450 week
    • 2 bedroom apartment: $200-275 per room/week
    • 3 bedroom apartment or house: $180-250 per room/week
    • 4 bedroom apartment/house: $170-220 per room/week.

    These prices are average estimates and are only applicable for living in the city and the immediately surrounding suburbs; not those which are further away from the CBD.

University Accommodation

Take the stress out of finding and applying for safe accommodation with one of our trusted accommodation options. Our range of university-owned accommodation is uniquely designed to enhance your university experience, offering student-exclusive options.

More than a place to live, you can experience all university life has to offer as a member of our accommodation communities. From fun social events to study support, you’ll connect with a network of students and staff as you experience the best of campus life and beyond. All our accommodation options are located just a short walk from our Parkville campus in the heart of the city of Melbourne.

Included as part of your fees:

  • Your furnished room
  • Utilities (electricity and water)
  • Unlimited internet
  • Amenities (gym, cinema, communal kitchen, study rooms, music rooms, and more*)
  • 24/7 staff support from our friendly staff
  • Year-round calendar of programs and events.

*Amenities vary between each residence. Please view the individual residence pages for further details.

Utilities

  • Typically paid quarterly (not monthly), and may include water, electricity, and gas (each place can have variations to this).
  • These utilities may be set up for you or you may have to organise it yourself, or put the account into your name.
  • Internet is usually up to the tenant to arrange.
  • Monthly internet allowance plans are measured in gigabytes of data, which can be confusing. Suffice to say that 200GB of data is more than enough for a 4-person house, and will only be limiting if people are constantly downloading large files (movies, TV shows, etc.). Many internet plans have an 'unlimited download' option.
  • Internet plans usually require a contract of either 12 or 24 months, and are paid monthly. You can use a website like Finder to compare plans.

Furnishings

Transport

Public Transport

  • Public transport within the city and suburbs is accomplished through the use of trams, trains, or buses.
  • To track a tram, train, or bus, or to plan your trip, you can download PTV app or Tramtracker app.
  • The trams that pass by the vet campus include the 19, 58, and 59.  The 19 and 59 run on Elizabeth St. and pass by Melbourne Central, a major train station in the middle of the city.  The 58 runs along William St. and passes by Flagstaff Railway Station, another major train station in the city.
  • Major train stations are reachable within 30 minutes of most surrounding suburbs.  If living in the suburbs, it is easy to catch a train from one of these stations, and then take the tram to campus.
  • You can plan your public transport journey at http://ptv.vic.gov.au
  • Google Maps also provides detailed routes and stops of trams/trains/buses.
  • Places that are further away can be reached by vLine train or bus, and the ticket can be purchased online at www.vline.com.au

Payment for Public Transport

  • All public transport can be done with myki, which is the public transport payment system.
  • Myki is a transport debit card that has an online account (it can also be linked to your bank account for automatic top-up), and deducts the transport fare every time you touch it to a sensor before boarding, and also upon departure.
  • You can purchase a myki card for $6.00 at the bigger train stations and at all 7-Eleven stores.
  • You can top-up online - be aware that it can take up to 90 minutes to credit your card
  • You can also top-up at a post office, 7-Eleven store, train stations or select tram stops.
  • As graduate students, we are unable to get the concession myki, which means you will need to buy a full fare myki.
  • It is a good idea to register your myki card so if you do lose your card or if it is stolen then your balance can be protected.
  • For more information about buying, topping up, and registering myki, please see the website ptv.vic.gov.au/tickets
  • It is essential to pay for public transport as public transport officers constantly roam the networks and have the power to administer $200+ fines to people who don’t pay – or better known as "fare evade". There are also “undercover” transport officers who are not required to wear uniforms so be sure to use your myki cards. They have scanners, which can detect whether a myki card has been touched to a sensor.
  • Riding the tram is free within a certain zone in the CBD and you do not need to use your myki card. This is known as the ‘Free Tram Zone’ and is useful for getting around the CBD.

Bike Riding

  • Riding a bike is also a convenient way to travel around the city. There are many bike paths and designated bike lanes on the road, which make riding your bike quite safe.
  • Bike parking is available at the Vet Precinct and on main campus – just be sure to bring your own lock.
  • Bike helmets are compulsory in Australia and you may be fined if you are caught riding without one.
  • Bike lights are compulsory at night. Easy and cheap to pick them up from a bike store.
  • Most suburbs around the CBD have local bike shops or you can purchase a used bike on gumtree.com.au. Some bike shops provide free repairs for 1 year after purchase.

Banking

Setting up an Account

  • You can set up a transaction account at a bank before you arrive in Australia.
  • This will allow you to obtain an EFTPOS card, which can be used for most transactions, however, it does not have a 3-digit security code on the back and cannot be used for online purchases.
  • The two banks that most students use are NAB and Commonwealth.  Both of these banks have websites with instructions on how to set up an account from overseas, and which type of account to open:
  • Both banks have ATMs all over the city, and at least one or two on campus.
  • Other major banks include: ANZ, Bank of Melbourne, Westpac, ING Direct, Mebank.
  • If you are going to be receiving money from back home from a parent’s bank account, or joint bank account, it would be a good idea to meet with an accountant to look over the tax laws for the international transfer of money.  I assume this is different for every country, but there can be annual limits for the tax-free transfer of money (above this limit attracts tax).
  • Transferring funds can also be done through a third party source like transferwise.com/au. Make sure you compare conversion rates and added fees between your bank and other services.
  • Once in the country, a savings account can be opened which carries an interest rate (currently around 2%).  This should be discussed with a bank representative to decide when/how to open an account.
  • Also, if your family happen to bank with HSBC back in your home country (eg Canada, HK), it may be a good idea to do some research with your local branch, and see if it would be worth opening a joint account in Australia to cut cost on certain international transfers
  • Be sure to check if your home bank is partnered with any Australian banks as this could be useful in avoiding unnecessary fees when using ATMs.
  • Signing with a local bank is necessary if you wish to also sign up for a phone contract (more details below).

Tax File Number

  • A tax file number, or TFN, is a unique, personal number that allows the government to manage your taxes and other government services.   For more info on this, please see the website: http://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Tax-file-number
  • A TFN is essential if you are going to work, or have a bank account here with a substantial amount of money.

Mobile Phones

  • Upon arrival, the best option for a mobile phone is a pre-paid SIM card. You can compare phone plans online at whistleOut. You can get quite good deals for unlimited text and call in Australia + lots of data.
  • If you are bringing a phone from overseas, make sure the phone is unlocked!
  • The main companies here include Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, Virgin Mobile. You can peruse their respective websites and decide which plan is best for you.
  • Some providers (eg. Telstra) have student offers and/or combined deals with Spotify or Apple Music with their 12-month contract. These offers are subject to change.
  • Telstra has the best service, and in many remote areas (where you may be doing placement), it is often the only provider with service. Telstra can be expensive, but there are cheaper phone companies that also use the Telstra network, so shop around.
  • Virgin Mobile Australia have pre-paid and post-paid options, and run on the Optus network.
  • Pre-paid plans are a good idea if you are pressed for time when you arrive, but a monthly plan may be cheaper long term.
  • You may be able to pay for a monthly plan online and ask them to send the SIM card to your new address before arriving in Australia.
  • All service providers have at lease one store in the CBD, you can walk in and talk with a customer service representative if you have any questions.

Computers

  • Most of the class use tablets or laptops for note taking.  Some people are old school and prefer paper notes but keep in mind that lectures can have anywhere from 20 to 100 slides. That is a personal choice. Australia is on the expensive side when it comes to buying computers and tablets so I would suggest buying it from home as a cheaper option. You will just need to buy adaptors here. OneNote and Notability are commonly used apps for note taking. If you use OneNote make sure you use your UniMelb student email as they offer ample storage (1TB).

Employment

  • The student visa limits employment hours during the teaching period to <20 hours per week.
  • Many students work one or two shifts per week (<15 hours per week) at businesses ranging from restaurants to vet clinics.
  • If employment is desired, there are a few good websites for job seekers. These include:
  • For more information regarding tax laws and forms, please refer to the website http://www.ato.gov.au/individuals.
  • For employment rights, expected wages, help finding a job, and other assistance, refer to the university website http://www.careers.unimelb.edu.au/student.
  • Of note, many businesses will require a trial shift before offering employment. The law requires this shift to be paid at the normal hourly rate; however, some (not all) businesses will do unpaid trial shifts. Prior to commencing a trial shift, ask the manager if the shift is paid (it should be) to avoid any awkward confrontations after the matter.

Counselling

If you ever find yourself stressed, depressed, anxious, and need someone to talk to, the University of Melbourne offers counselling and psychological services to help you. Take a look at the website to find some help and make an appointment with the counsellors.

You can find Counselling and Psychological Services at 757 Swanston St, Level 5. Phone number +61 (03) 8344 6927.

If you have questions and concerns our lecturers are always happy to assist you. All you have to do is either go and see them in-person or send an email.

Social Life

This section will be short since I think discovering the social scene and the many bars around Melbourne is half the fun.

  • Ask your fellow second year vet students for some suggestions whether you are looking for anything from a hole-in-the-wall pub with trivia nights to a dance club that will be open until 7am.
  • FYI: Most bars are quite strict about letting intoxicated people in after about 10:30pm, and a driver’s license or passport is required for ID (although this must be in English). There are also dress codes for most bars after this time, including no thongs (flip-flop sandals), and no gym shoes.
  • Some bars and liquor stores do not accept international driver’s licenses as valid ID. To avoid carrying around your passport, you can either obtain a Victorian driver’s licence (which can be relatively easy depending on where you are from, but can be expensive) or you can obtain an over 18 ID card (cheaper option).
  • Public transport runs between 5am and midnight, Monday to Thursday. On the weekends trains, trams, and buses run all night on specific routes. For more information check out https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/getting-around/night-network
  • If you are not into the bar scene, there are lots of amazing restaurants, cafés and chocolate shops to suit everyone’s needs.
  • The Queen Victoria Market in the city has a special event on Wednesday nights during the summer that includes dozens of different hawker-style food vendors, along with live music.
  • There are many festivals throughout the year, more information at the official website of Melbourne.
  • We have quite a few social events organised (in person and online) through the VSSV, so expect those to pop up throughout the year.

What to do in Melbourne

Extensive lists and reviews of restaurants, cafes and bars can be found on The Urban List and Broadsheet.

  • Federation Square
  • Luna Park
  • Museum Victoria (free for students/concession)
  • National Gallery of Victoria
  • Queen Victoria Market
  • Royal Botanic Gardens (free)
  • Sea Life Aquarium
  • Shrine of Remembrance
  • State Library of Victoria
  • Yarra Bend Park
  • Zoos in Victoria - Melbourne Zoo, Healesville and Werribee are highly recommended by many students

Outside Melbourne:

  • Grampians National Park
  • Great Ocean Road (12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, London Arch, Bay of Islands Coastal Park, Erskine Falls)
  • Great Otway National Park
  • Mornington Peninsula and the Peninsula Hot Springs
  • Phillip Island
  • Puffing Billy Railway
  • Yarra Valley wine region
  • Wilson's Promontory National Park

Shopping:

  • Bourke St Mall
  • Chadstone
  • DFO South Wharf (outlet)
  • Emporium
  • Highpoint
  • Melbourne Central
  • Spencer Outlet Center

Food and coffee around the University of Melbourne (Parkville campus):

  • Axil Coffee Roasters
  • Brew Sisters
  • Dr Dax Kitchen
  • House of Cards
  • Prince Alfred
  • Queensberry Pour House – unlimited drip coffee
  • Standing Room
  • Seven Seeds
  • UoM Farmers Market

Amenities

Healthcare

  • Overseas Health Insurance is compulsory but you are not required to sign up with the University provider- compare plans online: https://oshcaustralia.com.au/en
  • Melbourne Uni have their own health service where many students seek medical advice and treatment. They are extremely approachable and knowledgeable about all medical issues you may have. For further information go to http://services.unimelb.edu.au/health/international
  • The closest pharmacy is HealthSmart Pharmacy, inside the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre on the corner of Grattan St and Royal Pde.
  • The Uni also runs a counseling service. They are highly skilled and entirely confidential. They assist students with all types of issues, from family and social concerns, worries with moving and adjusting to a new country, academic stress, etc. For further information go to http://services.unimelb.edu.au/counsel/home
  • Chemist Warehouse is the preferred pharmacy for students because it offers the cheapest prices

Liquor

  • Dan Murphy’s, Coles Liquorland, Woolworth’s Liquor, any bottle shop on the street.
  • Dan Murphy’s is the largest alcohol retailer and has the best deals on a range of alcoholic delights.
  • Wine is the best value in Australia; the price of everything else is heavily inflated.
  • Craft beers from microbreweries are a bit more expensive per drink than wine, though the quality is superb.

Groceries

  • Woolworth’s and Coles are the two main supermarkets in Australia. Both have reward point programs so if you shop there frequently it may be worth signing up for some free points and goodies.
  • Aldi is located in the CBD, Brunswick and various other locations and is quite cheap.
  • Markets such as Queen Victoria market and South Melbourne Market are fantastic places for fresh food, flowers, meat, honey, organic foods, etc. Some real bargains can be gained from shopping at markets – particular if you go at the end of the day when they discount the food to sell it quickly.
  • There are also many smaller food stores, such as IGA, Foodworks, but in general these tend to be more expensive and best for impromptu purchases.
  • There is a Costco in the Docklands (bulk food store).  An annual membership is $60 for up to two members, though each member can bring a guest with each visit. Membership cards from North America are honored here, and many of the products are imported from the US.
  • For those looking for ethnic groceries or a little taste from home, there is wide selection in Melbourne.
  • USA foods offers American (and some Canadian) imported products, though it is a bit far away in the suburb of Moorabbin.
  • Health food and special dietary requirement shops such as gluten-free bakeries are plentiful since the food culture in Melbourne is booming, with virtually every need catered for.
  • There is a China Town and a few Asian supermarkets (ie. Hometown, Korea Town Mart, KFL Supermarket) in Melbourne CBD, where you can find lots of imported food and groceries.

Gym

  • Many students choose to use the University gym facilities located on Parkville main campus (not too far from Vet Campus), although there is an additional fee to use these facilities in addition to tuition.
  • For gym fees and contract options, please refer to http://www.sport.unimelb.edu.au
  • Fees range from $50-70 per month.
  • There are many other private gyms available including ones that are close to the centre of the city, such as:
  • Many gyms have free trial periods. Well worth doing these to ‘test’ the club before you commit to a membership.
  • Other ways to keep fit outside the gym include joining a sports team and playing Kendall Hall (Werribee campus) sports. Feel free to speak with our enthusiastic sports reps (Jennalee Clarka and Alicia Corlevic) for more info on Kendall Hall sports and other activities.

Student Testimonials

I decided to live at the International House (IH) College for the safety and security of housing before coming to Melbourne. I didn’t want to come to the City and not know where I was going to live. It was one less stressful thing I had to think about when coming to school. My experience at IH has been very easy and smooth. We do have high table dinners (4 throughout the year), but they are all optional to attend along with many other events they offer. Everything is optional for the graduates because they understand how busy we are with study compared to the undergrads. Living at IH is like living on your own in a fully furnished room, but having people around just in case something goes wrong which is really nice to have. It is a little more expensive than living off campus, but IH makes it really easy to budget money throughout the year. There are two down payments that cover the first half of the year and then the second half of the year that include all utilities and rent. With the new graduate building going up, we are pretty much guaranteed to have quiet living to ensure we can focus on our studies. I enjoyed living at IH so much that I came back and stayed in the brand new graduate building for 2015 school year.

─ Anna D

I arrived with my brother, who had already done 1 year of Law School at Melb Uni. With his previous experience he knew the way he preferred to find housing. Starting 2-3 days before our departure, and also during layovers he would get online and set up apartment viewings. As soon as we got off the plane we had many places to go check out. We both didn't want to sign something before being able to see it first. I liked this method. Be prepared for a lot of walking, and it will be hot out!  Also, we booked into a hotel (had this booked before arrival), left our stuff there, and then went out to the viewings.

The apartment we ended up finding was via walking by and seeing a sign out! It’s student accommodation at Urbanest Carlton. Great double share rooms, single rooms, or single rooms with balconies. All utilities included as well as internet (included is 10 GB and you pay extra for more data if needed). Each room has a microwave, large fridge, stovetop, oven, dishwasher (having all of these is something I have now learnt is a luxury!!) and its own bathroom.  They have events with the other students in the building but by no means do you have to attend anything. I knew how busy I was going to be at vet school, and was worried that not going to these things would be an issue, but it has not been at all! You are not forced to partake in anything.

There are a variety of undergrads and grads, all from different backgrounds. Urbanest Carlton has been great. Quiet, safe, and fantastic rooms. I am renewing my lease and continuing to live here.

─ Julie D

I'm living with my family in South Kensington. It is a nice place with big grass fields, 20min away from school by bike and bus number 402 goes directly there. The Werribee train also passes by South Kensington train station. I like this place! It is also close to Footscray suburb with nice Vietnamese food and markets with cheap fruits and green veggies ;)

─ JH J

FAQs

Financial questions

  • What have you done/are you doing to help pay for the degree program and living in Australia? Any suggestions for what type(s) of private loans or school loans would be nice to know. Being from Canada there are limited amount of loans that are available and they are not all funded by the government. Some classmates do have OSAP loans or have had to outsource elsewhere (or a combination of both). Classmates from the USA have been able to receive funding from their government. Some students have part time jobs for additional income.
  • What scholarships have you applied for towards schooling (besides the Uni of Melbourne scholarships)? I haven’t applied for any grants. The scholarships given by the University of Melbourne can be found online. However, scholarships for international students are quite limited, those available are suggested to be used for international extramural placements in upper years.
  • Did you have any success finding Grants to help pay for schooling? I know a few international students who have successfully received grants through their country’s government. Grants can help pay for housing accommodation, tuition fees, and cost of living so it is good to research and apply if possible. There are also scholarships and grants available through the University of Melbourne. More information can be found online.
  • What did you do for your finances? Ex. Did you open a new bank account in Melbourne? Did you just use your USA bank account you are currently with and deal with the international fees? I opted to open a bank account with Commonwealth Bank, there is no real reason behind that choice other than that is the bank that the University of Melbourne uses. Some Canadians use Westpac as it is connected with Scotiabank. For those from the USA they have partnerships with the Australian banks (Westpac and the Bank of America). It is a good idea to open a bank account with an Australian bank not only for convenience but to help with signing up for a phone contract as well as avoiding any international fees (other than ATM withdrawals). With that being said most of my purchases here are on my VISA credit card from my bank back home, however, do be careful as some companies (grocery stores included) do charge a surcharge.
  • What did you do/use for communication? (More towards cell phones and cell phone plans) I brought my iPhone from home and swapped out the SIM card for one I bought here. Do make sure you get your phone unlocked prior moving. Most students use communication apps such as Facebook messenger, What’sApp, Snapchat, Skype, iMessage etc. to communicate with family and friends. Cellphone plans are considerably cheaper in Australia compared to Canada.
  • When did you apply for a student visa? As soon as I received my acceptance letter I was going down all the requirements and checking them off my list including applying for my student visa. Applying for the visa has specific requirements such as health examinations. Use this website for more information.
  • Add more comments and/or information that you think would be important to know. Stop 1 is the University of Melbourne’s home for student services online, over the phone, and in person. They are very helpful with any questions you might have including but not limited to admissions, enrolment, administration, and financial services. For more information check out the website.

Travel and living questions

Please note that some of this information is not relevant for 2021 and the current COVID situation. But I decided to include it anyhow, as it may be pertinent in the future.

  • If school starts February 28, 2022 and orientation starts February 22, 2022, when would you suggest traveling over to Melbourne? I arrived in Melbourne the Friday before orientation week. I had already applied for student accommodation so I did not have to worry about searching for an apartment and attend inspections. I did find this was enough time to get myself situated and open bank accounts and obtain a cell phone plan. However, I do advise that if you want to arrive earlier to do some travel with family or friends that would be beneficial as well!
  • Should I try to find a flight that goes straight to Melbourne, or will there only be a connecting flight in Sydney to get to Melbourne? And when is a good time to start looking into flights to go? Travelling to Australia is a long process so this is completely up to you. I always go with the cheapest option. The earlier you look for the flight normally means the cheaper they will be.
  • Have you been able to come home at all during their summer (Nov. to Feb.)? Because of COVID, I have not been able to go home and I am uncertain of when I will be able to. For many of us this year, it has not been an issue of whether we could leave Australia, but more so if we would be allowed to get back into the country. The majority of international students have stayed in Australia during COVID to avoid the risk of potentially having to defer. Under normal circumstances, students usually have plenty of time to go home, except in 4th year. You can do placements at home as well.
  • What and how much stuff (clothes, shoes, etc.) did you bring your first year of school from the States? Three suitcases and one carry-on, basically clothes and toiletries to last me the first month and certain things I couldn’t live without. If there are certain products that you use and are not willing to give up/switch search them in grocery store websites or chemist website (Pharmacies). Don’t over pack!  Bring summer and winter clothes.  A good raincoat with a hood is a must, and at least a softshell jacket, many internationals do bring a puffer jacket. Other advice would be to have an umbrella! You can buy rubber boots for walking around the city here.  You can get 4 seasons in 1 day, if there is a cloud in the sky it may rain on you, even if the sun is shining. Always carry sunscreen, sunglasses, something warm, and something for rain if you are going to be out for more than an hour or two.
  • What did you do for living the first year of school? Second? Third? Fourth? And what have other people done for living throughout the time in school? When I arrived, I lived at a student housing company that was situated about a 15 minute walk from campus. However, it is quite expensive and I ended up moving to a cheaper apartment with some classmates. There are basically 3 options: student housing (as listed above), there are multiple sights, they are small and expensive but close to school, apply early for these; colleges (http://www.ormond.unimelb.edu.au) these are expensive but all inclusive (meals, bills etc) and are a good option if you just want to live somewhere fully furnished and not worry about cooking or bills; private housing will vary in cost depending on where you live and who you live with.  North Melbourne, Carlton, Fitzroy, Brunswick, Parkville and a couple of other suburbs are really close to uni (http://services.unimelb.edu.au/housing).
  • What type of transportation would be best/cheapest to take when arriving to the Uni of Melbourne from the airport? The uni offers to pay for your first transport from the airport.  To get to and from the airport by public transport use the Skybus which will take you to Southern Cross station, a main hub for trams, trains, and buses. I opted to take an Uber for the convenience from the airport to my apartment, it cost around $40-60.
  • What does it cost for students for using the bus transportation? Or is it free for students? It’s not cheap, but not unreasonable.  On your Werribee days it will cost you $8.60 round trip.  International students pay full fare. http://ptv.vic.gov.au/ and http://ptv.vic.gov.au/tickets/myki should tell you all you need to know, but if you have any further questions, just ask.  Basically, you have a hard card that you can purchase and put money on to travel. When you get here you can purchase one at the train stations (the major ones in the city are Flinders and Melbourne Central), or at any 7-Eleven for around $6.
  • What is the cost of simple items: Bread, Milk, Eggs? The University provides an estimate for the cost of living here: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/finaid/planning/cost_of_living/summary. Bread $2-6/loaf depending on quality, Eggs $3-6/dz depending on cage status, Milk $1-1.5/liter depending on the store
  • How cold does it get during the winter months? I’ve spent time in some pretty cold parts of North America, so I am acclimated for very cold weather and winter. Cold nights in Melbourne can get below freezing, but that is pretty rare. Average 10-15C high and 5C low. It still may be a good idea to at least bring a softshell jacket or a puffer jacket. I brought a winter hat/toque, a baseball cap, and gloves. They also come in handy for placements.
  • What is the typical monthly electric bill? Water bill? Internet bill? Depends on where you live and how many people you live with etc.  Beware of central heating, none of the buildings here have insulation so the bill could get out of control quickly.  Whole electric bill will run appx $100-$150/mo, Water $30-60/mo, Internet $80-100/mo.
  • Tell me all about off campus living and the obstacles you have to go through (good and bad). Living further away from campus (and the CBD) usually means cheaper rent. The only downfall is the commute but everyone agrees that the tram and train system is very reliable in Melbourne. Many students opt to purchase a bike and commute that way to university.
  • Add more comments and/or information that you think would be important to know. When you choose housing/roommates consider your preferences, your budget, and how much/little you want to be responsible for.

School related questions

  • Be realistic, how intense is the Veterinary Medicine program? I am anticipating that it will be very intense and ready to get my study on. It’s hard, and gets more difficult each year. There is a serious volume of information as well as technical terms and names. Their expectations are high and they grade harshly. It is important to remember that the grading system is a little different here (they are happy to have class averages in the 60’s). If you stay on top of the material and don’t let it start piling up then it will be very manageable. Professors are also very helpful and understand the difficulty of the course. You will hear them repeat the common theme that it is better to know a little about a lot rather than a lot about a little.
  • How many hours a week would you estimate that you study? What do you do to be successful for study habits within the Veterinary Medicine program? Try the study techniques you're familiar with but be flexible as the content varies between classes and teaching styles vary between the lecturers. Talk with classmates, professors and other cohorts on what works best for them if you are in need of a new approach. Use the mid semester exams as reference on how you're processing the information but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do well as they are a low percentage of your final hurdle grade. Recommended techniques include 1-page lecture summaries (typed or hand written), answering Intended Learning Objectives, flash cards, studying with a buddy, using white boards, referencing recommended textbooks. I have recently been using a form of study method called “Active Recall” and interval spaced learning (check it out on Youtube!). I use a combination of Anki flash cards for terms and information I need to memorize. Where for larger concepts I write questions based on lecture slides/notes and write answers to them. I find this is a good way to study as you are actively testing yourself. Find out what works for you!
  • What do you do involving textbooks? Do you rent books? Buy them?  The Brownless Biomedical Library has most of the books you will need, but the popular ones only go out overnight so that can be inconvenient at times. The lecturers are good at providing recommended texts but nothing is required for purchase as the notes for most professors are really comprehensive. If you are looking to buy books, ask higher year levels first as many students are looking to sell their books. I have personally not purchased any textbooks thus far, but have taken two textbooks out for the entire semester as supplementary material if I need it.
  • Are you/were you able to work while in school? On or off campus? Many students have part-time/casual jobs but I chose not to work during the first year. I used my semester breaks to complete the required extramural placements but it’s all up to you and what works with your schedule.
  • Did you purchase a computer in Australia for schooling or did you bring one from home with an adaptor?  I brought my laptop from home and an adaptor. However, it is relatively easy to find adaptors here. Many students use iPads/tablets to annotate slides/notes, however that is not necessary, laptops work well. Most of the class use tablets or laptops for note taking. Australia is on the expensive side when it comes to buying computers and tablets so I would suggest buying it from home as a cheaper option. You will just need to buy adaptors here (or get one at home-mine was much cheaper that way). OneNote and Notability are commonly used apps for note taking. If you use OneNote make sure you use your UniMelb student email as a log in because they offer ample storage (1TB).
  • What school supplies would be useful to have before arriving? After arriving? Most of the class use tablets or laptops for notetaking. Some people are old school and prefer paper notes.  That is a personal choice.  Australia is on the expensive side when it comes to buying computers and tablets so I would suggest buying it from home if it is a cheaper option. You will just need to buy adaptors here as the Australian wall plugs different compared to other countries. A calculator is also quite important, there is a university policy stating only Casio fx-82au plus ii are allowed during exams. However, because of COVID, all of our exams were online and open book. Thus, our year did not have any issues regarding what specific calculators we used, but that may change in the future if we move back to in person, closed book exams.
  • Is there a dress code for the Veterinary Medicine program? Ex. Business casual everyday to class or you can wear slacks? No dress code for class. You have to buy coveralls (1st pair comes with VSSV membership), gum boots, regular boots, and a dissection kit for practical labs (specific kits will be available for purchase from VSSV during orientation).
  • What fun activities would you recommend doing for an active person? Are there bike trails? Fitness centers? Sporting clubs? Beach or indoor volleyball? Etc.? All of the above, accessibility just depends on where you live. Kendall hall, the dorm of the Werribee campus, also organizes sports so pay attention for announcements when you get here. Most of the contact/communication is through Facebook. Fitness centres prices are not that different compared to Canada ~$50-60 per month. The symphony here offers discount tickets to shows, there is a good music, art, and food scene here as well. I would suggest trying to make the most of first year, go out and enjoy different aspects of the city!
  • Is there anything you would do differently a second time around? Examples of what you were not aware of when you first started school in Australia and/or information you wish you would have known before leaving for school/when arriving to school. Many in my year have said that they wished they took part in the orientation week/social events throughout the year. I would encourage you to participate in activities outside university, whether that be trips, dinner, coffee etc. Your peers will become your family for the next four years and strong relationships will be formed. Personally, I would be sure to stay on top of all the information given as catching up once you’re behind is much harder. Students and professors are very helpful with studying and learning so be sure to use them. You are not in this alone and that will become very clear throughout the year.