Studying in Australia comes with amazing opportunities and experiences, but I’ve found that international students like myself often have to deal with a number of factors that could overwhelm us. Controlling our expenses like renting, groceries shopping, mobile plan, public transport and of course leisure activities, managing our agenda, keeping a high academic performance and trying to not let stress block the road to our dreams.
Facing all of these challenges can be difficult but it is also a fantastic opportunity to develop our own personal management skills. Studying in Australia, which presents a huge multicultural group of students, has allowed me to learn some strategies from different friends, teachers and support staff. Here is what I’ve learned so far…
Kakeibo is a Japanese budgeting method and a useful strategy to control your personal finances. Basically, Kakeibo is a book where people can define their financial goals and budgets by using categories for all their expenses. Thus, they attach categories to their budget in order to control their spending in education, renting, transport, leisure, etc. Also they track their income, which is very variable when performing part-time jobs. As a final goal, Kakeibo allows people to save as much money as possible and achieve their objectives (Ikigai).
Personally, I do not want to carry an extra book everywhere. I also struggle with finances terminology, much less how to manage them. If you are like me, you will be pleased to know there is also an online option. CQUni provides all students with the possibility to use Blackbullion for free.
Blackbullion is an online platform, mobile accessible, allowing us to learn financial terminology that can facilitate our finances management. Also, it provides tools to calculate and define budgets by using the Kakeibo methodology.
What about taxes? Blackbullion includes a small set of four videos explaining why and how to process your tax requirements, even how to get a tax file number (TFN).
And the secret to succeed? Whether you prefer hard-copy or online strategies, track your money and don’t overcome your budget.
Studying a full-time master’s degree, performing a part-time job and belonging to volunteering programs consume pretty much all my time. And I understand that a well-balanced life is the key to succeed. Thus, in order to control my agenda to fit enough time for all my commitments, I harness a mobile planner (Google Calendar) which is also linked to my email account, so all my meetings, assessments, classes and work shifts are automatically organised. And the app notifies me just in case I forgot one of them.
Remember to take a rest and enjoy hobbies. Work-life balance is important.
Coping with stress
People from South Asia have practiced meditation techniques for ages. Meeting people from Nepal, India, Thailand and Vietnam has made me realise how important meditating is and how it could help me to regulate my stress and live a mindful life. Of course the excessive number of responsibilities and the ambition to succeed in all my commitments is quite stressful. So how it was explained in the mindfulness session delivered during the Festival of Change at the Melbourne Campus, it is as simple as sitting comfortably, closing the eyes and breathing deeply, attempting to focus only on our environmental stimulation and our breathing process.
Serendipity and resilience
But what about overcoming doubt or fear of failing? Buddhism says –Failure is part of life. If you do not fail, you do not learn. If you do not learn, you will never succeed. It is necessary to learn from our context and enhance our skills. Of course nobody wants to fail, but it all comes down to our attitude. Serendipity is a fantastic strategy to help see mistakes in a positive light. It can even help us get a positive outcome from them. After the mistake, complain a couple of times to get this negativity out of your system and then try to find what positive outcomes you can get.
Similarly, resilience was the name given to a characteristic of metals that resisted tough conditions like saltwater. Later, sociologists adapted the term as a human characteristic that defines the ability to recover rapidly from difficulties. When it comes to our student life, sometimes we strive hard to get high grades in our assessments, do well at our part-time jobs and high perform in our hobbies. But when things do not seem to be going right, a bit of resilience to resist the difficulties and serendipity to find a new way could help us to feel better and achieve our goals.
During my studies, I’ve found there are many avenues to accessing academic and study support. The Academic Learning Centre to check my language and the ways how I address my assessments, Studiosity, the Library to accurately do my research and Peer Assisted Study Sessions are all options that could help you.
To summarise, even though the overseas study process can be quite challenging, it is an amazing opportunity to develop ourselves – managing our personal finances, time management, regulation of stress and striving to have a positive perspective of circumstances.
It is always a helpful idea to get support from experts according to our own struggles either academic or emotional. If you are having difficulties, be sure to connect with student support.
Carlos Bravo is a current Master of Human Resource Management student and a member of the Social Squad – a group of content creators helping to promote student and campus life at CQUniversity.