How to have a good experience
The best way to integrate into university life is to ask good questions and learn soft skills like critical thinking and creativity (this TED video provides a fantastic list of skills that you can learn before you travel). Knowing how and having the confidence to ask for assistance are two very important qualities. If you want to find somewhere good to eat, learn how to surf or even join a group with local Australians, it is best to speak up.
In addition, the teachers will not always give you all of the information as one of the essential skills that universities try to encourage in all students is to be resourceful and self sufficient, this is sometimes called learning agency.
Oh … one more thing
If you get your IELTS results back and you get just enough to qualify for a course, don’t stop studying. Just because the university or pathway course said yes, it doesn’t mean that you are truly ready to study in Australia, as most of they people you will meet will still interact with you based on their current level, not yours.
Student (A)… Mia – Studies hard, goes to class and gets good grades, but she doesn’t meet anybody, unless of course another students recognizes her situation and tries to make friends with her. If this doesn’t happen though, Mia’s English will not improve and she will be left to struggle alone.
Student (B) …. Katie – Also studies hard and gets good grades, but in addition her natural curiosity of others encourages her to ask more questions and to interact with those around her. As can be expected, her English improves a lot, she travels, makes friends and learns a large number of skills that are not in the textbook.
No doubt, everyone wants to have an experience like student Katie….
So how can this be done?
Remember I mentioned critical thinking…
OK we looked it up
“The ideal critical thinker is habitually curious, well-informed, trustful of reason, open-minded, flexible, fair minded in evaluation, honest in facing personal biases, prudent in making judgments, willing to reconsider, clear about issues, orderly in complex matters, diligent in seeking relevant information, reasonable in the selection of criteria, focused in inquiry, and persistent in seeking results which are as precise as the subject and the circumstances of inquiry permit.” *
This means, be curious, have a opinion and be open minded enough to listen to others thoughts.
*Saxtona, E., Belanger, S. & Becker, W. (2012). The Critical Thinking Analytic Rubric (CTAR): Investigating intra-rater and inter-rater reliability of a scoring mechanism for critical thinking performance assessments. Assessing Writing. 17. p251-270.