Leaving your country, family, friends, and your daily routine to go somewhere else to learn a new language can be quite scary at first. When I decided to leave Brazil for Australia to study English, the uncertainty of the future haunted me. I commonly battled fear and anxiety of the unknown. When I returned home nine months later, I realized that those feelings were nothing close to the happiness I experienced on my huge adventure and learning journey. Here are five things I now know about studying English in Australia.
1. Don’t be shy when studying English in Australia
When I arrived in Adelaide, South Australia, in December 2018 I considered myself the most open-minded person in the world. Little did I know! It can be very difficult to adapt to a new life, deal with new customs, make new friends, and step out of your comfort zone. However, what I know now is that putting yourself out there is a MUST!
In my first few weeks at the South Australian College of English, I felt extremely shy. Over time I realized that if I didn’t talk to people and make friends, I wouldn’t enjoy the trip. After meeting many people from different nationalities, I realized that this anxiety and shyness were common to everyone. All of my peers felt that way, and the best way to deal with it was by making friends and having people to talk to. Most people in my class also wanted to make new friends, share experiences, and learn about new cultures.
During my last month in Australia, I organized an Australian barbecue at the house where I was living. I invited all my friends I met over the months. To this day, I have contact with most of them. You won’t regret it — I didn’t!
2. Don’t be afraid to practice your English
If you want to both travel and to spend money and time learning English you have to be immersed in it! In my first month in Australia, I used to feel too nervous to go to restaurants, bars, or even the supermarket alone. I felt afraid to speak to other people in English. This feeling is very normal and, again, common to most international students. However, you have to fight this and practice your English as much as you can.
Now, I know that my school has taught me a lot of what I know about the language. However, it is from these contacts and daily conversations that I better developed my understanding of English. Especially my speaking and listening! After I lost my fear a little, I felt very impressed by the rapid development of my understanding of English. Therefore, it is very important to be fully in contact with English at all times. An educational process doesn’t just happen inside the classroom. You need to practice in your daily life: that means watching movies and TV shows in English (with English subtitles only!) and chatting with your friends in English (including friends of the same nationality as you).
3. Not everything is going to go as planned — and that’s fine
If you had asked me, before my trip, what my plans were for Australia I would have told you several things. Little did I know about how life can surprise you. As my journey developed, I gradually came to understand that things were not going to happen the way I wanted, but the way they needed to be. Was it an easy process? Definitely not. There were weeks when, after tiring days studying and working, I felt overwhelmed. Moreover, as I have said a few times here, this feeling is normal among international students.
In Adelaide, I had a lot of trouble getting a job — mostly due to my lack of experience, and, also, bad luck. Over time, I learned that I had to be flexible and, again, step out of my comfort zone. I looked for jobs in other places, and ended up working with food delivery — a job option I never imagined myself doing. With this job, I could not only pay my daily costs but also save money for my next adventures (Australia typically pays highest wages).
At the end of my trip, one of the most important lessons I learned is that not everything is going to go your way. And that’s the best thing about traveling! In April 2019 I thought I wanted to stay in Australia forever. Two months later, I headed to Madrid to work as an au pair — but that’s another story for another time.
4. A few bad people can show up, but you’re not alone
One of the things I had the most difficulty with in Australia was facing the bad people that came into my life. But, the hard fact to accept is that there are bad people everywhere, even in Australia, which is definitely not a place known for having bad people. What you have to do is ignore these people and try to fill your life with only happy, fun, friendly people. And what I can say is that this is not a feature that Australia lacks. In fact, with over 30% of the population made up of immigrants, South Australia is one of Australia’s most inclusive and diverse states.
In the previous topic, I mentioned my bad luck on the journey to get a job. Some of the bad people I also crossed paths in work environments in my first few months. I faced a tricky path until finding the strength to get through this. I found it in my friends and family who gave me the strength to move on. In Australia, international students can, thankfully, count on a huge international community of immigrants and students who will be there to help you with everything. What I learned, in the end, is that I was never alone.
5. Enjoy your trip
Lastly, what I learned is that every moment is unique. Even if you travel to the same place twice, the second time will never be the same as the first. On an international trip where your main goal is to learn a new language, and you must study and maybe even work, don’t forget to enjoy every second of your trip. Take your weekends to go out, to meet new people outside school. Go to bars or parties if you like it. Maybe, walk around on your days off, or travel somewhere else if you saved some money. Or even just check out another small city nearby. Call your friend from school and ask him to show you around, it’s definitely worth it. Take your time to be immersed in this new country, with a lot of different cultures and languages. Create some epic stories to tell your friends and parents when you go back home.
Also, remember that travelling alone is a good opportunity to be in touch with yourself. To learn more about you, your feelings, and how to love yourself. That’s the main lesson I learned after the trip. Take some time to get to know yourself a little better, to know your weaknesses and how to deal with them. After that, you might realize you’re your best, loveliest friend.
One thing I always tell people when they ask me if it’s worth it to go to Australia to study English is: every experience is unique, you won’t know unless you go. Studying abroad can be a scary thing. Take your time, plan everything, save your money, talk to your friends, parents, and other travelers. If you want it, here’s your answer. Australia will welcome you with some of the finest wines and an epic summer.