Xin Chào everyone! I’m Tram from Vietnam, currently studying a Diploma in Creative Industries at QUT International College. When I came to Australia, I was shocked to see how everything here was so expensive, even a cup of juice could be $7. Then I thought I would try cooking at home, since I rented a room in a shared house with a common kitchen, to save money and eat healthier. So today I want to share some useful tips with you from my six month experience of home cooking (and occasionally eating out)!
I think money issue is one of the main worries for most of the international students in Australia. Being an international student in Brisbane, I have to keep a close eye at the digits of my bank account to make sure that I have enough money for my rent, food, transport, social activities, travelling and last but not least, the tuition fee.
There are many options to do your groceries in Brisbane for examples Aldi, Woolworths, Coles, IGA, K mart, Big W, Costco, Asian Groceries Stores etc. Normally the large grocery stores may carry most of the stuff you need but different brands. Compare the prices between the grocery stores and the different brands they carry (grocery home brands are often cheaper) if you want to save some money! Furthermore, the big grocery stores may have discount for different types of products every week, so join their mailing list and keep an eye on their specials.
Other than the regular promotion, some products which are approaching expiry date will have a further price reduction. I always buy discounted ice coffee which makes my day haha!
As a member of one of QUT’s student organisations you may have discounts for stores across Brisbane. For instance, QUT Malaysian Students Association provides special discounts for members who shops in one of the Asian grocery stores in the city.
I would suggest you buy fruits and vegetables from the markets, as it’s normally cheaper than the grocery stores. You can find out more about Brisbane markets from my previous post: https://blogs.qut.edu.au/student-life-in-brisbane/2016/11/01/markets-culture-in-brisbane/
I have shared some saving tips in my previous blog post: Public transport in Brisbane.
There are many options for accommodation for examples homestay, students apartments, shared acommodation etc. The weekly rent could range from AUD $100+ to $300+. Personally I think shared accommodation is the cheaper option, however, it all depends on what your requirements are.
Travelling could be very affordable if you plan well in advance. Brisbane has a great geographic location and is near most of Australia’s major travel destinations. Join the airlines’ email list so you don’t miss the cheapest ticket. Instead of flying, you can choose to do a road trip to any of the beautiful places surrounding Brisbane. You can read my previous post regarding my visit to the beautiful places surrounding Brisbane.
If you plan to visit some tourist spots which require entrance tickets e.g. Lone Pine Sanctuary or all the theme parks on the Gold Coast, I would suggest you buy the ticket in advance. Check out some travel agencies in the city or suburbs as they would be able to sell you the tickets with a better price than the venue. You can read my blog post with some travelling tips about Gold Coast Theme Parks.
5) Social activities
I enjoy dining out with friends, however dining out in Brisbane could be very expensive. Some restaurants serve very big portions, so it is a good idea to share with a friend if you have small appetite. The portion of food sold by food trucks is normally not that big. You could check out my previous blog to know more about the food trucks culture in Brisbane.
Hopefully these tips could save some money whilst studying as an international student in Brisbane!
It has been one year and seven months since I came to Australia. I still remember when I first came here, I found the living expense was very expensive. So I almost cooked every meal for myself even though it didn’t taste that good.
Gradually, I got busier and busier with university and managed to find a job to support myself. As a result, I got lazy with cooking because:
- Prepare food took a lot of time.
- Even though I spent time on cooking, it didn’t necessarily taste good.
So after about 2 months, I kind of gave up cooking and bought meal outside most of the time. However recently, I started cooking and gradually had an interest in baking.
I guess it is due to the fact that I was inspired by a friend who loves cooking and always say to me: Food is life, good for soul! I lived with her for a month when I came back from my exchange and didn’t have a place to live. She cooked different meal everyday and they all tasted extremely good. Watching her cooking made me feel that cooking itself is fun and it doesn’t take that long to prepare for a delicious meal.
After moving out, I started subscribing different Youtube channels on cooking and try to cook food according to it. So far I tried to cook traditional Sichuan style boiling fish, banana bread, pizza, pasta and sponge cake. Not only did I save money from cooking, I also felt a sense of accomplishment!
Cooking is life, good for soul!
Brazilian student publishes his first book!
Brazilian student Pedro Franklin recently published his first book on travel and entrepreneurship, stating the feat was only possible through studying language skills at QUT.
Tips for meeting new people
Our friends at Insider Guides share some great advice about making friends in a new country.
Brisbane Comedy Festival
From late February to late March each year, the Powerhouse in the Brisbane suburb of New Farm will be your go-to venue for a dose of comedy!
Get support from the QUT Student Guild
Whether it’s support with deferring an exam, getting a grade reviewed or any other academic relates issue
Drawing for Contemporary Fashion Design
Experience fashion drawing in QUT’s Creative Precinct with an LA-based fashion illustrator and founder of the Fashion Finishing School in Los Angeles.
QUT International College videos
Hear from students’ in their own language about why they chose to study at QUT’s International College and their experiences in Brisbane!
Budget tips as a university student
We understand there are a lot of expenses involved in moving to a new country, finding a place to live, as well as other study costs. QUT is here to help you though!
Become a QUT Digital Leader!
Our friend Aubrey Zhou is also a QUT Digital Leader which means she can share her experiences with the QUT online community. Find out more about this great opportunity for when you start at QUT!
Have a great weekend!
The QUT Team
Check out these stories from QUT
- New research agreement between Indian Institute of Technology Madras and QUT
- Shifting Art at ReForm
- QUT BlueShift competition opens to international students
As promised in my previous blog post on choosing accommodation, here I am with a follow-up post.
Regardless of how much time and thought we put into choosing our respective abodes, we always end up compromising on something. The trick is to identify your deal-breakers and your perks – feel free to compromise on your perks.
For example, if you would like to be near a supermarket or shopping centre for convenient shopping, but being near public transport is crucial to you, then it’s alright if you settle for a place that has a bus-stop right outside your house, and the bus takes you to a supermarket in 15 minutes.
Consider natural light – I have visited many student share houses and other accommodation where the rooms are sold at a cheaper price because there is very little sunlight in the room or no sunlight at all! This is a deal breaker for me as I need natural light to function. My previous room had no windows in it and I suffered a lot because of that.
Last, but definitely not least, consider the lease terms before you sign the lease. If possible, send it over to an attorney-at-law and get it checked, especially if the jargon is hard to navigate.
Student accommodation agencies vary in flexibility and this is evident in their different lease terms. Carefully read the house rules and any other specifications put in your lease. Some accommodation agencies can be very strict; some do not permit any alcoholic drinks on the premises at any time, have strict rules on visitors and sometimes even on internet usage.
I have had to let go of many places that I liked because their rule on internet usage was that it could only be used for study purposes and not entertainment – everyone loves an occasional movie, right?
I hope you find satisfactory accommodation through your house-hunting ventures! Don’t forget to get in touch with QUT accommodation service for help and advice on accommodation and housing!
Having never been to Australia before, I was not pleased to know QUT did not have on-campus accommodation because it seemed every other university within my knowledge had on-campus housing for students.
However, QUT does have an Accommodation Service that helps you with settling down, and it’s free! So make use of it, because they provide you with reliable information regarding which realty agents to use and help you find a property within your budget. They may also assist you with going on inspection rounds to visit different property until you find something satisfactory.
On choosing accommodation here’s a few points for consideration:
- Firstly, set a budget. A reasonable budget for weekly rent would be between $150-$250. A room for less than $150 is rather difficult to find and if you do find one, it’s often not worth the price. Work out your weekly pay, or if your parents are sponsoring you talk to them, and set out an appropriate budget. I’d advise you to have some degree of flexibility over this as it is rare to find a room we like for the exact price we want
- See as MANY houses as possible before settling on one. There is no rush! Please see lots of property before settling down
- Consider things other than just your room: what amenities does the weekly rent cover? How long does it take to get to uni? How far is the nearest public transport and how frequently do buses/trains arrive? Where is the nearest supermarket or grocery shop? Is the house in a remote/isolated area?
- The housemates – who are they and where are they from? Do they speak English? Is it a single-sex or mixed house? How many housemates do you have? Does anyone smoke/drink and are you OK with this?
- Carefully consider if you need a single/shared room. If your budget is super tight and you need a room for less than $150 a week, you may have better luck finding a shared room. If your budget is not constrained, I would HIGHLY recommend a single room. From personal experience, I implore you to meet your roommate BEFORE you sign the lease and talk to them. Set some ground rules – ask if they have any conditions that you must comply with, set your own conditions. DO NOT MOVE IN BEFORE MEETING YOUR ROOMMATE if it’s a shared room
- Try and get a 6-month lease, because personalities clash sometimes and breaking the lease is expensive. Your loss will be less if your lease term is shorter.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or talk to someone. If you would like to talk to another international student and chat with them about their accommodation experiences, contact QUT and ask them if they can put you through.
I promise to follow up on another post with more accommodation advice for you guys. Happy house-hunting!
QUT first year nursing student, Da Yea Kim shared her experience when applying for the QUT Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship.
“Thinking about the intense international fees my parents had to pay for university, (wooo!) I thought that applying for a scholarship was the last thing I could do to help. QUT Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship was one of the first scholarships that I looked at because I wanted to come to QUT.
I remember filling out the super easy form online that took me 5 minutes to finish. All it required was the course I wanted to study, my QTAC number and other few questions. I didn’t have to fill out any sections about my personal information or family backgrounds as the scholarship was solely based on my OP score. The process was super easy and because I didn’t put much thinking into it at all, I forgot that I applied for one by the time my OP results were released.
However, on the 8 January 2016!!! I received my scholarship offer valued at up to $30 000. It was a happy surprise for myself and (especially) my parents. My solid 5 minutes spent online was definitely worth it. I cannot imagine how bummed I’d be if I didn’t apply for a scholarship at QUT thinking that I wouldn’t get an OP 1. I would’ve went to QUT anyway even without the scholarship, but it definitely does help my university life. I can work less and concentrate on my studies more which creates a positive, happy uni student cycle.
Also you get opportunities like becoming a member of the College of Excellence, and going on a free VC Camp at the start of the year to make friends and have fun. So, what do YOU have to do? Apply for a scholarship NOW!” – Da Yea Kim
One month ago, I was offered a paid internship as a tax accountant for two months during the tax season ( July to August). I was literally too happy I burst out crying when I got the phone call. If you are an international student as well, I’m sure you can understand why I feel this way. I know a lot of international students are struggling in finding an internship, so hope some of the tips I write in this blog can help.
First let’s identify some difficulties when finding an internship for international students, taking me as an example:
• Language barrier
This obviously is a huge obstacle for me who have lived in China for most of my life. Coming to Australia last year and haven’t studied overseas before, I find it very hard when doing group discussion with domestic students and clearly conveying my thoughts.
• A lack of local working experience
When I started job seeking in October last year, most of my working/volunteering experience on my resume happened in Shanghai. I only put down one local volunteer experience (Robotronica @ QUT). This made me very unconfident as most companies value local experience.
• Unmatched information
This can be a lack of knowledge about resume format & recruitment process (it’s different from your home country), networking awkwardness (I have never attended any networking events before coming to Australia) and not taking good use of QUT Career Hub (which turns out to be extremely useful for me ).
Though these obstacles are very daunting, don’t let them define us and be positive! At the end of the day, you can totally overcome these difficulties. Yes, I guarantee! The following is what I did to improve myself and gradually be more and more confident as a job-seeker.
1. Start being active in uni
Join one or two clubs and get engaged with uni activities (aka connector, global cafe, LDI). I’m sure you want to build up your confidence and be a better communicator. Attending extra-curricula workshops is a good way to learn how to do team work and speak up your ideas. In addition, you can also meet people and expand your network.
2.Have a Linkedin profile and learn from other people’s career path
One of the things I often do is to check other people’s career path on Linkedin. It’s not stalking others (though my friends always say I like stalking people on Linkedin) but through reading other people’s work experience, you can see how they ended up getting a good graduate job. Some people may have great GPA, others, while not showing their GPA on Linkedin, have already got two or three major-related work experience before graduation.
3.Start volunteering, this will lead to a paid role eventually
Before I got this paid position, I have done lots of unpaid work ranging from being a QUT Connector in orientation week, being an executive in a uni club to volunteering outside uni in a non-for-profit for 7 months. This process is mainly about building up local work experience and get an idea of how it is like to work in Australian office environment.
4.Take good use of QUT Career and Employment resources
I attended lots of workshops hosted by QUT Career and Employment, most of them are extremely useful. If you want me to recommend you one or two workshops, I’ll definitely say: go for resume, cover letter and interview workshops, career counsellors will help you polish your skills.
5.Stay positive even though you get rejections
I know it’s very frustrating to be rejected. I have been rejected more than 20 times before getting this internship. Also I failed 3 interviews this semester out of 4 interviews. But that’s okay! You know what, one of my friends who’s also an international student applied for 60 positions on Seek, got lots of rejections but ended up getting a job eventually. So be positive and never give up.
6.Check Career Hub everyday and start applying
Why Career Hub is way better than Seek? Because most of the jobs on Career Hub is only targeted at QUT students and only need entry-level experience while the job ads on Seek are available to everyone all over Australia and usually require many years of experience. So your chance of being successful is much higher. Everyday you will find new jobs posted on Career Hub as well. For me, both of the two positions I got so far were from Career Hub. So there you go, check it everyday and start applying!
Just found I have been talking a lot haha. Okay peace out and good luck! I’d like to hear back your good news.