By Prema Yin
Studying music in Australia has played a crucial role in my development as an artist, performer and a person.
Being in a foreign country, with a different culture and a different language is one of those unique experiences that forces you to grow the most as an artist.
It causes you to step outside your comfort zone, to see if you're able to grow and, most importantly, learn. Learn that you are a capable human being, learn that mistakes happen, learn that you are courageous.
Another AIM Contemporary Student Felita Pratomo shares her experience studying music in Australia as well as her cover of La La Land's hit song City of Stars.
However, as an international student, I did find it overwhelming stepping foot into unknown territories.
So if you're considering studying music in Australia here are my tips to help guide you through your first few weeks like a boss!
(Note: I'm going to focus on Sydney as an example here)
Finding accommodation can be a bit tricky, so you need to plan ahead... The Australian Government advises student visa holders studying music in Australia to have the financial capacity to cover living costs of approximately AUD$21,000 per year.
Using this amount as a guide, you'll probably need at least AUD$1,750 per month for accommodation, food, utilities and entertainment. (Of course, actual costs will vary depending on your lifestyle choices and personal needs)
Remember, living expenses are generally separate from tuition fees and are your responsibility!
Some things to consider would be:
- How far is your accommodation from your college?
(If you're studying at AIM Sydney you're in luck as we're right next door to Sydney's main train station, Central, so you can get a single train to school from almost anywhere in Sydney!)
- What is the mode and cost of travel? (Probably a train which costs about AUD$3 a trip https://bit.ly/2JFoavr)
- Is there adequate heating and cooling? (Sydney's average Summer temperature is around 26°C and 16°C during Winter)
- How much will the rent cost?
The Sydney Homestay website suggests you can expect to pay between $195-$500 per week, depending on location and boarding arrangements.
- Room sharing or private room?
According to Sydney Moving Guide, approximate costs for renting in Sydney can cost between $350-$570 per week for a 1-bedroom apartment. Renting a private room in a shared property tends to cost between $300-$400 per week.
- How much is the bond you are required to pay? (This is generally the cost of your first month's rent paid upfront)
- Is the area safe? Sydney has been voted the worlds 9th most liveable city, with safety and quality of education a defining category for these rankings https://bit.ly/2y2k7YH
If you're considering studying music in Australia it's important that you also open an Australian bank account immediately as this will allow you to earn money in Australia, as well as access your funds without additional transfer fees. Once you have opened an account, you will be provided with a debit card which can be used to attend to your daily expenditures.
How to set up your bank account?
Head into a bank in Australia and inform them that you are an international student wanting to open up an account. You will need to provide:
- Passport, birth certificate or national identity card
- Proof of Australian address
- Proof of enrolment (COE)
Finances are generally tight for international students, so finding part-time work is crucial.
But, where to start? Bear in mind that the allowed working hours for International students are 40 hours a fortnight. A fortnight means 14 days. Australia has laws guaranteeing basic workplace rights, including minimum pay and conditions. You should always be paid for what you do, including training and trial shifts.
First, get a Tax File Number (TFN). Your TFN will ensure that you get taxed correctly for the amount of work you are doing. Australia has a tax-free threshold of $18,200, meaning you will pay no tax if you earn less than this amount in a year. If, however, you have any tax taken from your earnings, a tax return form should be completed at the end of the financial year.
Get your TFN here: www.ato.gov.au
To learn about your work rights visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call 13 13 94.
Organising work in Australia is your responsibility!
However, depending on your English proficiency and work experience, you'll most likely be looking for hospitality work (like most students do). Make sure your resume/CV is kept up to date and when you arrive in Australia go down the main street in your local area and drop one into each shop asking if they have any positions available.
Don't Miss out on Studying Music In Australia!
Don't let these associated costs turn you off studying music in Australia. Studying abroad is one of those unique opportunities everyone should experience (if they can afford it!).
Being in a foreign country, with a different culture and a different language is a unique experience that will make you grow the most as an artist. It even gives you a new perspective on home as you start to appreciate some of the things that you may have taken for granted.
And you'll also start to realise that Australian music students aren't so different from you and when it comes to the international language of music, borders are obsolete.
Until next time,
If you're interested in studying music in Australia you can contact one of the team here at the Australian Institute of Music for help checking your eligibility and options!