What it's actually like to be an international student

International students are amongst the core contributors to university culture on Australian campuses, and their presence is continually growing. We got talking to Dan McArthur, an international student from way over in…New Zealand. Nevertheless, he’s facing the same issues as any student who’s moved from overseas: finding accommodation, studying in a new country, admin, transport and generally settling in.

After finishing high school in Auckland, Dan McArthur decided he was ready to broaden his horizons and experience the exotic wonders on offer further abroad...and so he jetted off to Sydney. But while plenty of Aussies claim that New Zealand is just another state of Australia, our friend Kiwi Dan definitely classifies as an international student. Here's what Dan has to say about taking the plunge and shifting life to a new country for study.

What are you studying?
A Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Finance, combined with a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Sydney.

Why did you choose to study in Australia?
I wanted to study overseas since I was about 15 years old. So I moved to Auckland in high school to sit the 'Cambridge International Exams', which provide greater access to universities in the UK, US and other international locations. But I ended up choosing Australia because of the combination of good universities, big cities and beaches, and the ability to study the degree I wanted. This is in contrast to the US, where all undergraduates must study liberal arts, or the UK where you are forced to specialise; for example, you have to choose either economics or maths. Plus, I got a scholarship to Sydney University, which helped to mitigate the cost - especially compared to the US and UK where tertiary study is much more expensive.

What kind of accommodation do you have?
I used to live on campus in a college, and then in my fourth year of studies moved into private housing with a couple of friends.

What do you like about being an international student?
I like that it gives you a point of difference to the majority of other students - being foreign gives you something to chat about, makes it easy to strike up conversations. Although that only seems to work for the first couple of years of uni...maybe I'm losing my New Zealand accent!

What don't you like about being an international student?
I don't have anything bad to say about being an international student in Australia! Living at college definitely made it easy to integrate quickly into the culture and make friends. Then again, the similarities between New Zealand and Australian culture also help - last year I went on exchange to France, where I found it much more difficult. The language barrier meant that there were times I felt lonely and it took longer to develop close friends.

What advice would you give to other international students?
I think being an international student could be really hard if you find yourself isolated. So I think the best way around this is to find a shared living situation, if possible - that's when I've always had the best time.

What do you plan to do when you finish studying?
I would like to get into the business world, and work in Brazil, Latin America or New York, maybe in finance or in entrepreneurial work.