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Setting up

Moving and studying as an international student is a big and exciting step, it has the potential to be an eye-opening, influential and life-changing experience. On this page, we hope to provide you with guidance on what to organise, what to expect, prepare you for study and your new life in Australia. 

  • You can do this before you leave home or when you arrive in Australia. Here is how to open a bank account in Australia.

  • You do this by purchasing a SIM card or Australian mobile number when you arrive in Australia. There are two types of mobile phone accounts you can choose from

    A. Prepaid service gives you flexibility because you control how much you spend and can stop using the service any time. Pre-paid SIM cards are sold in many shops and supermarkets, as well as by mobile phone providers.

    B. Contract is best if you will be using your mobile a lot, and will be in Australia for a fixed period of time for study. There are numerous mobile phone operators in Australia, the options in Darwin include Telstra (offers the best phone coverage), Optus and Vodaphone. 

    More information

  • There are supermarkets, some areas of Darwin also offer Uber Eats or find a restaurant.

Let us know you are here

When you first arrive in Australia, it is important that you provide your local contact details – address and phone number - to Charles Darwin University within 7 days of arrival, as CDU is obliged to inform the Department of Home Affairs of your local contact details in case of emergencies. If you do not have a local phone number yet, remember to update this via MyStudentInfo as soon as you are able to get one.

If you are able to enrol into your course, you will be prompted to provide your local address and contact details.

If you are unable to enrol into your course or experiencing difficulty with activating your student account, please visit Student Central at your campus upon arrival for assistance:

  • Casuarina – Student Central, Orange 1.1
  • Darwin Waterfront – 21 Kitchener Drive, Darwin
  • Palmerston – Building A.2 East, Administration
  • Alice Springs – Building 1, Info Shop
  • Sydney – 815 George Street, Haymarket.

International student orientation

International student orientation is held in the week before the commencement of higher education classes and runs over several days. When arranging your travel to Australia, please ensure you arrive in time to attend orientation, as this event is compulsory.

Orientation is held for students in Darwin and Sydney. At Orientation, you will receive information relevant to life in your new city and an introduction to CDU, including:

  • Meet and greet
  • Enrolment
  • Student visa rules and regulations
  • Support services available at CDU
  • Information about access and inclusion
  • Campus tours
  • Lots of fun activities
  • Prizes to be won!

Find out about Orientation

Culture & Clubs

We've covered all the admin and logistics of arriving, now it's time to settle in. Make the most of your time studying and become part of the uni community by engaging with your lecturers, making new friends and joining clubs and societies. 

Learn More

Darwin & Northern Territory information

Sydney information

Additional information

  • Working in Australia can be a great cultural experience, and can be an opportunity for you to improve your language and social skills.

    It is important as an international student to maintain a healthy work-study balance and to always remain within your allowed 40 hours per fortnight if you are a student visa holder.

    It is very important to remember it is illegal to work before starting your first day of classes.

    Finding work in Australia can be achieved through many different channels. You can contact Equity Services for careers and employment advice, as well as assistance with your C.V. These websites may also be helpful:

    During your employment, it is very important that you are aware of your rights in the workplace, and the correct wages for your area and age, as well as penalty and weekend rates. It is the law in Australia to treat employees fairly and equally and to pay employees according to the wages set by the industry.

    As an international student, despite your restricted working hours, you have the same rights to a fair and safe working place as any other person. You should also receive the same level of pay as any other employee in this position.

    The Fair Work Ombudsman released on 25 September 2017 their International Student Engagement Strategy, seeking to increase compliance in Australian workplaces employing international students. Read about Fair Work Ombudsman – Open letter to international students.

    If you do not feel that you are being treated fairly, you can:

    • Discuss your concerns with your employer if you feel comfortable. Ask for copies of your pay slips, and ask to see the outline of their pay grades for employees, to ensure you are being paid correctly for your age and position.
    • Enquire with your employer about penalty rates if you work weekends or public holidays. Also, inquire about uniform entitlements or any other additional payments you should be receiving.
    • Search online for industry relevant information on salary information, i.e. the NT hospitality industry pay standard.
    • Contact Fair Work Australia or Ombudsman if you think you are being exploited or treated unfairly. Search for your local office, and speak to their team. Gather evidence such as payslips and any evidence of communication with your employer.

    You should not be afraid of speaking with the Ombudsman, as there is no issue with checking on your work rights.

    Commonly, students may fear to speak to these agencies due to their student visa, or because they may be paid in cash or have worked overtime. It is important that you remain within your legal working hours, and work legally. However, if you are being exploited, you should always go to the Ombudsman to discuss your case.

  • Cultural shock is the feeling of being out of place, in an environment that is unfamiliar to you. As an international student, you are likely to experience this after the initial excitement of moving to a new country has worn off and you are faced with the reality of living in a new place without your family or old friends, where most people do not speak the same language as you.

    This can be very challenging, and it can cause enormous amounts of stress in your life. It is very important to recognise why you are feeling this and to develop methods of coping.

    You may find it helpful to regularly speak with your family and friends back home, or set goals to improve your language. It may also help you to try and develop a sense of 'cultural awareness' and an understanding of how to openly communicate with the people around you.

    If you are struggling, we encourage you to have a chat to our International Student support team or our free and confidential counselling services.

  • Charles Darwin University is committed to providing an accessible, supportive, safe and inclusive learning environment for students with disabilities.

    If you have a permanent or temporary physical or sensory disability, learning disability, medical illness or a psychological condition that may impact on your ability to access and participate in study and other services at CDU, you are advised to contact the Disability Liaison Officers. Find out more at Disability Services and contact a Disability Liaison Officer using the options below.

    T: 08 8946 6288

    Email: disability@cdu.edu.au

  • If you already hold a licence

    You can transfer your overseas driver licence (Class C) or motorcycle licence (Class R) to the NT. To transfer your overseas licence, you will need to visit an MVR office.

    If your Class C driver licence is recognised you will be able to transfer your licence. You will need to complete a theory test and then a practical driving test to obtain a full licence in the NT. To find out if your licence is recognised visit the MVR website. 

    For more information, email: mvr@nt.gov.au, or you can call 1300 654 628. 

    If you do not hold a licence

    This is a step-by-step guide to show you how to get your learner driver licence, graduating with your provisional licence and qualifying for your open driver licence.

    For road safety resources, online modules and information on classes and instructors, go to the DriveSafe NT website.

  • If you already hold a licence

    If you're a temporary overseas visitor to NSW and you hold an overseas driver licence, you can apply for a NSW licence if you wish.

    Your licence will show the letter Q on the front of the card and ‘Evidence of permanent residency status not provided’ will be printed on the back of the card.

    How to apply

    • Download and complete the Licence Application – PDF.
    • Make sure you have all your documentation and any additional items (if applicable).
    • Visit a service centre and submit your application.

    LEARN MORE

    If you do not hold a licence

    If you want to get a NSW driver licence, you can use this page to work through the stages involved in going from learner to full licence: Getting a NSW driver licence.

    For more information, you can call 13 77 88.