Ben: From Iran to Queensland, Ben’s top tips for international students

Originally from Iran, Ben began his studies with USQ by enrolling in the English for Academic Purposes program. He then went on to study a Master of Business Administration (Project Management) and graduated in 2016. He is now working toward achieving his dream of running his own business.

After completing a computer science degree in Ukraine and working in Malaysia for 8 years developing online businesses, I moved to Australia to study at USQ. I have experienced several challenges during the time it has taken me to settle into my new life here, but I have also learnt how to be independent and self-sufficient. I believe what I’ve learnt may help others who are planning to move overseas to study, or who have recently arrived in a new country, so wanted to share my experience and tips.

Two of the biggest challenges I have found studying in a foreign country are the language barriers and cultural differences, which can sometimes lead to misunderstandings.

A lot of people who come to Australia to study don’t understand Australian humour. Especially the way that Australian men talk to each other… they are often quite gruff, which many people from different countries can find offensive. But I find Australians quite friendly. Especially after coming from Iran and studying in Ukraine.

In Ukraine, people from Iran are considered ‘a problem’ and racism often has violent consequences. There are lots of people in the world who have ‘old fashioned ideas’ about people and create artificial boundaries. Ten years ago, I changed my name because I discovered people made assumptions about me before they even met me, due to negative perceptions people have about Iranian culture. All the negative media attention on Iran at the moment doesn’t help, and often makes me feel uncomfortable and guilty. A lot of my friends don’t even know I’m from Iran. But I am enjoying my time studying in Queensland, and would like to move closer to USQ’s Springfield campus.

My top 4 tips for others thinking about coming to Australia to study are:

1. Know the basics

Learn to speak conversational English before you come to Australia to study at uni. This is important not only to ensure you understand what you are learning, but because you are living in a foreign country and it can be hard enough to find your way around without not knowing how to ask for help.

2. Be independent

Make sure you are comfortable doing independent study and research. In my first lecture here, our teacher told us that he wouldn’t spoon feed us information and that we would be responsible for our own learning. This can come as quite a shock to many international students who are used to more traditional teaching methods.

3. Arrange accommodation

Make sure you have accommodation before you come to Australia to study. I didn’t, and finding last-minute accommodation in Toowoomba was a challenge. I had to spend my first week in Australia travelling from Brisbane to Toowoomba, which was very expensive!

4. Have a source of income

Try to arrange a job so that as soon as you arrive in Australia to start studying you can also start earning to support yourself. Many people think that our governments support us to study overseas, but that isn’t the case… at least not for Iranians. Australia is an expensive country to live in. As an international student on a visa, I can only work 20 hours a week, but in order to support myself, I work 9pm-1am restocking shelves in a hardware store.

There are many reasons why Australia is an ideal country in which to pursue your education, and why you should choose to study at USQ. Hopefully my tips will help prepare you for your Australian study adventure!   

Are you coming to Australia to study? Not sure what happens when you get here? We have a guide to your first 48 hours in Australia, what to expect and how to keep it as stress free as possible. These apps might help as well! 


Angelica: Top tips for uni students moving over seas to study

Laura: 3 highlights of moving to Australia for study

Alice: An international student's guide to the Library