Get your new life in Sydney off to a smooth start with this list of essentials your first week.

Ticking off a few simple and important tasks in the beginning will make sure things are in place to make your whole stay easier – so you’ll have more time for fun later. 

Most things can be done online. But when you need to get to shops and services, you’ll have a perfect opportunity to start exploring your new city too.  

1. Find out how to get to campus

Figure out your best route option before the first day of Orientation and Academic Preparation Week to make sure you arrive on time when events begin. If you arrive early you might also have time to explore the campus. 

Depending on where you live in Sydney, you will probably have a few travel options – whether you choose to take public transport, cycle, walk or drive.

TIP: If you decide to use public transport and you are eligible for a student concession, you will need a  concession        Opal card. If you are not eligible for any concession, you can use an adult Opal card or a credit or debit card.  

Find maps, navigation app links and more information about Getting to UTS Insearch.

2. Get a SIM card or mobile phone

Starting out in a new place is easier with the internet in your pocket. Stay in touch with your favourite people, get directions and do everything else you need to do online. 

Your current phone service provider will be able to tell you whether you are able to use your existing SIM card and phone within Australia. But it is often cheaper to buy an Australian SIM card, or an Australian phone and SIM card together.  
 

Using your existing phone and SIM card

If your current plan includes international roaming, you may be able to keep using your overseas SIM card. This is common in international travel SIM cards, but can be costly. So, make sure you check all the fees and charges before turning on the international roaming option in your phone settings. 
 

Using your existing phone with an Australian SIM card

Using an Australian SIM card can be cheaper than using international roaming. For this option, you will need to make sure your phone is unlocked and not attached to your current overseas network – this will allow you to use any SIM card in your phone. Most service providers will unlock your phone for free if you contact them before leaving your country.  
 

Things to consider when purchasing an Australian SIM card

  • Service type – choose pre-paid (no lock-in contract) or a monthly low-cost fee
  • Call rates – look for unlimited and free
  • Data – the more the better
  • International calls – look for low cost or free
 

Purchasing a phone and SIM card in Australia

If your phone is not compatible with Australian networks, you might need to buy a new phone and SIM card together. These are sold as pre-paid packages and as contracts or plans. 
 

Pre-paid packages

Pre-paid phone starter packs are popular choices for international students. You can buy these at supermarkets, 7-eleven stores and newsagents, and at mobile phone service providers like Teltra, Optus, and Vodafone. Because you pay for your service ahead of time, there are no bills, contracts or monthly commitments. 
 

Contracts or plans

Signing up for a contract or plan means you will pay monthly fees for your phone, calls and data for a certain amount of time (usually 12–24 months). Every contract and plan is different, so speak with a phone service provider to work out the best plan for you. 

You will find provider stores in shopping hubs around Sydney. They may ask you for proof of identity (passport) and proof of your Australian address, so be sure to take these documents with you. 

You can also compare services online:

3. Open an Australian bank account

Keep your money safe by opening a bank account. 

Everyday transaction accounts, savings accounts and student accounts are the most popular options. They will allow you to deposit money (like payments from employers), pay bills and keep track of what you spend. 

If you have your documents ready, opening your bank account will take between 10 and 30 minutes.
 

Banks in Australia

There are many banks and financial institutions to choose from in Sydney, and some will allow you to open an account before you arrive in Australia – you can usually sign up via their website, using your passport details. 

Here are just some of the banks that offer accounts for students, with services for international students:


When you arrive in Australia, you will need to visit your bank to show them your passport in person, collect your debit card and register for internet banking. 

TIP: You can use your debit card to travel on any public transport in Sydney. 


International money transfers

To easily transfer money between countries and convert overseas currency to Australian dollars, your best option is usually an international money transfer (IMT). 

Here are a couple of options for international transfers:

Bank transfer – where your overseas bank will allow you to transfer money into your Australian account, and vice versa. It is usually a straightforward and easy process done online. But remember that banks do not always have the best exchange rates, so you might not be able to get as many Australian dollars for your overseas dollars.

IMT service transfer – where a specialist IMT provider transfers your money. These providers are separate from your bank, so you will need to sign up for a separate account with them. But because they usually have better exchange rates than banks, you will probably end up with more Aussie dollars in your account. There are many providers. Here are some to get you started:

4. Update your contact details

As soon as you have the details of your new location and phone number, you will need to let us know at UTS Insearch so that we can keep you up-to-date with important information. 

Keeping details current is also a visa requirement for international students. If you change where you live or there are other changes to your details, you will need to let us know within 7 days of any change. 

Find out about updating your details on the Your student information page.

To update your contact information now, log in to eStudent

Please note, if you are under 18 years of age you will not be able to update your contact details in eStudent yourself. You will need to do see our Student Centre Team who will do this for you.

5. Activate your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

If you are an international student on a student visa, you will need to make sure your health insurance is up-to-date and maintained during your stay, so that you can get access to emergency health services and general healthcare.

Usually this means having Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). Students from Belgium, Norway and Sweden who have health cover in their home countries may not need this. You can visit the Department of Home Affairs website for more information.

If you organised your own OSHC, contact your health insurance provider as soon as possible after you arrive in Australia so that you can activate your cover. 

If you asked UTS Insearch to arrange your OSHC, you will have Comprehensive cover through Medibank, UTS Insearch’s preferred OSHC provider. You will need to visit the Medibank website or use the Medibank OSHC mobile app to activate your OSHC membership once you arrive in Australia. 

After you activate your membership, your Medibank OSHC card will be sent to your Sydney address, so make sure Medibank knows the details. 

To update your details in person, you can visit the Medibank office:
Medibank Private office (closest to UTS Insearch)
World Square, 644 George Street 
9 am – 5 pm, Monday to Friday

Find out more about Overseas Student Health Cover.

6. Start healthy with your grocery shopping and cooking

Sydney’s food culture is thriving, and it is tempting to eat out all the time, and especially in your first week! But cooking for yourself can be better for your health and your budget.

Start your study year right by eating well and preparing at least some meals at home. Write your shopping list and buy enough food for your first week, including snacks for your days on campus. 

There are supermarkets, farmers markets and specialist international food stores throughout Sydney and its suburbs, and it is usually easy to find ingredients – whether you are looking for local flavours or a taste of home. 

TIP: Use the navigation app on your phone to find supermarkets and other food stores close to your home and to UTS Insearch. 

7. Start ticking off your list of things to see and do

While you sort out the essentials, why not start exploring your new home city too? You can find some of the most iconic places within walking distance of UTS Insearch.

Soak up the stunning views at Circular Quay, where you can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge on one side and the Sydney Opera House on the other. Take a break for lunch at Chinatown (right next to UTS Insearch). Fit in some shopping at Westfield Sydney (and get your SIM card sorted!). Or relax on the lawns at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
 
TIP: Use Google Maps, Apple Maps or Citymapper on your phone to see what’s nearby.

More things to see and do in Sydney.

8. Attend Orientation and Academic Preparation Week

Orientation and Academic Preparation Week – the week before classes start – is your time to find your way around UTS Insearch, make new friends and ask all the questions you need to about settling into life in Sydney. 

You’ll have opportunities to:
  • meet other students and staff
  • explore UTS Insearch on your own and on tours
  • finish your enrolment and get your timetable
  • collect your books and study resources
  • join interest groups for sports, religions and social activities.

Find out what to expect during Orientation and Academic Preparation Week.