How can I make this possible?
February 28, 2008 9:10 PM   Subscribe

Just turned 20, want to start my life.

My 20th birthday recently passed and I live at home with my mother. I have close to no college credits, due to unfortunate events and unfortunate laziness and immaturity. I went to a State college but I wasn't ready for it. Now I have found myself, and a desire to start living life; going to school seriously, working, living in my own place again.

However, I want to do these things in Australia, which is quite far from California. Seeing as how I don't have many credits at all, I would think transferring colleges is out of the question. Seeing as how I don't have a college degree, finding a job in Sydney without being there would be quite a task. But I want to live get out of the US as soon as possible, and start earning a college degree in Australia as soon as possible.

I'm pretty sure this plan would need a couple years to accomplish, but I'm quite impatient and I thought I would ask MeFites for some ideas and advice.

The option in my head at the moment would be to continue working here in California (a year max?) to save my money and move there, then find a job and go to school, but I'm sure without a gratuitous amount of cash, that plan would fail. I'm just not sure what to do, because I want to START in Sydney.
posted by lain to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would imagine that Australia would require a work visa or student visa if you're going to stay for a while and/or start there. Otherwise, enroll in CA and look for a study abroad program.
posted by Frank Grimes at 9:15 PM on February 28, 2008

You could apply to a University there with the understanding that you will defer a year. You could use that year to work your butt off and make enough money to live there until you find a job with the added benefit of an end goal that is in reach.
posted by Carillon at 9:23 PM on February 28, 2008

I hope I am not being impertinent. Just wondering how you decided on Sydney?
posted by mlis at 9:24 PM on February 28, 2008

As an American you can get a work holiday visa for Australia. See here.

However, it looks like you need to be enrolled in a post-secondary thing in the US.

So, if you want to do this, enrol at a community college and get some credits and save some money up so you can get the flight.

If you want to go to school in Australia it will be harder.

A word to the wise, don't fiddle with Australian immigration. Do it all honestly. They are harsh.
posted by sien at 9:32 PM on February 28, 2008

I think you're being a little immature here. I mean, if you couldn't handle state school in CA, what makes you think you'll be able to handle it in Australia? What happens if you can't hack it and you end up dropping out again? The point of college isn't really to 'live life' or 'have fun' it's to learn, and get an education you can use later in life (networking is also important, which ties into having a life and fun, though).

Obviously having a life and a good time is an important part of the university experience, but it shouldn't be your goal. If there's some specific program or school you really want to go in Australia, then obviously you would want to go for it. But you need to consider your education first.

Anyway, the Australian government has a website for perspective international students (as you would be) that should have all the information you'd need. I live in a college town with a lot of international students. Generally, they will have everything setup (tuition, room & board, visas, etc) before they even leave their home country. They just get off the plane, check into their dorm rooms, and head to class. You don't land in country before everything is setup.

Also, I don't know how it works in Australia, but in the US, International students can't get the same kind of financial aid that Americans can. They have to pay for everything themselves, and I think they can't get student loans (but I'm not sure). According to the site:
International students are charged up-front tuition fees in Australia. These fees are very affordable and are consistently less expensive than the UK or USA.

Some Institutions make an additional charge to cover other student costs. These may include student organisation membership, library and laboratory costs and sports facility costs. You may also have to pay a specific charge for excursions, books, stationery and other essential material for some courses. These costs will vary depending on the course or institution therefore average costs are provided below and should only be used as a guide. All school tuition fees are exempt from Australia's Goods and Services Tax (GST).
They do have a section on Scholarships, but according to the site a majority pay in advance. I suppose it could be possible to get a student loan in the US up front.

Frank Grimes's suggestion to get into a US school and start with a semester abroad is probably your best bet. Keep in mind, you need to have good grades at your school in order to qualify for study abroad.
posted by delmoi at 9:34 PM on February 28, 2008

Response by poster: MLIS: The love of a certain Aussie added to my already longing to move there. I want to travel many places in my life, but want to start there.

I do want to go to school there, and do want to make Australia my home. Seems like I can't do anything other than transferring through colleges..
posted by lain at 9:39 PM on February 28, 2008

It's possible to do your entire degree here as an international, and being international it's easy enough to get in, but as a non-citizen it'd cost something like ten thousand a year in tuition alone. Add another ten thousand for living expenses (at least), and it really adds up. There are rules about working as a student while you're over here that more or less mean you wouldn't be able to support yourself - so you'd need a loan or indulgent parents. If you became a citizen, you'd have free (well, deferred) tuition and the government would pay you a living allowance while you're studying - but citizenship's hard to get.

That aside, is it a wise idea? This is just anecdotal, but state universities in Australia seem to have higher standards than equivalent state universities in the States - quite a few internationals in my course are a bit overwhelmed at first. Another thing - the universities here are very good, but few of them are "world class" in whatever fields - there's no point doing business or arts here if you can just as easily do it at home. Bioscience, some engineering, maaaybe it's worth it. Basically you have to ask - why Australia? Is it really worth the colossal hassle?
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 9:51 PM on February 28, 2008

If you can go back to state school in CA you will probably save money in the long run. CA has an excellent state university system; you might be able to take advantage of this and build up some credits at a lower tuition than the Australian university would be. Consider going to school part time and working to save up money.

If living at home is difficult, consider renting a place (with roommates), that way you will be taking steps to begin your life away from home, as well as give yourself a bit more responsibility (paying bills, cooking for yourself etc) to build up your skills during your save-up-cash period.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:55 PM on February 28, 2008

unfortunate laziness and immaturity
I'm quite impatient
The love of a certain Aussie added to my already longing to move there

Not to be callous, but it doesn't really seem like you're out of "youthful mistake" mode, even though you've assured us that you are and you really want to get crackin' on this whole college thing. Why do you think things will be different elsewhere? Getting older doesn't always mean getting wiser, and if you drop out this time, it will be a much more expensive mistake.

Do a couple of years of college in America, and prove to yourself that you're serious. Then reevaluate.
posted by almostmanda at 10:20 PM on February 28, 2008

Foreign students are ineligible for any kind of local scholarships. Unless you are able to get an international scholarship (and it doesn't sound likely, given your prior lack of motivation), you're looking at roughly $A10,000 a year in tuitions. That's about $9,500 USD.

A year.

My advice would be to get into your local state school because it will be a hell of a lot cheaper. Think long-term. Your best bet at this point would be to get on a BA track locally and transfer after two years, provided you have good grades (if you slack, forget about it). Most large universities have study-abroad programs in Australia, so you might even be able to spend a semester in Sydney, earn real university credits, and not have to worry about tuition, as it will be no different than attending locally. Then you can see for yourself if you even like Australia enough to live there. A friend of mine did a study-abroad in Sydney his junior year and, with mediocre grades, was able to land an internship at Rolling Stone Magazine through the school.

I suppose you could scrimp and save the dough for a flight to Australia, then sleep on the streets until you get some Joe-Job where they don't check your legal standing (hard to find, hard to keep, and low-salaried to boot!). This would be very difficult. Perhaps if you're charming enough, you could find an Australian girlfriend while unemployed and living on the streets, just to get off the streets. Perhaps she wouldn't mind that you're unemployed but good-natured. Maybe her father owns some land and needs a farm-hand to help coral the local wildlife. Or you could catch the magical fairy airplane that only costs ten dollars direct to Sydney and get the awesome $100/hr.-with-no-degree-and-no-visa job that comes complete with a luxury downtown apartment. Besides that, you're shit out of luck.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:33 AM on February 29, 2008

Listen to Civil_Disobedient, delmoi, and nicolas léonard sadi carnot.

Your education in Australia will cost a lot. Looking at the site delmoi linked to, you are looking at more than $10K US per year. From the same site: if you are on a student visa, you have to apply for permission to work, and can only do so after you arrive in Australia. I couldn't see anything on how many hours you can work per week, but I'm willing to bet that it is only part-time.

I think you need to re-think: your real goal is to get to Sydney because of this love of a certain Aussie. So, as sien suggested, why not a working holiday visa? They'll let you in for 12 months, you'll be able to work, and there will be less pressure on you to pass courses and so on. Then if things work out, he or she can do the reverse and go back to the US with you, or you could both go to New Zealand for a year (working holiday again)...there are options, but I think studying in Sydney as an international student is not the best one right now.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:08 AM on February 29, 2008

You're only young, think of your twenties as an elongated gap year and have some fun- with a fairly menial job thrown in. You can get a work visa for Australia and go fruit picking or work for Greenepeace/Médecins Sans Frontières/WWF bothering people like me in Australia's malls. People will hate you, but you will meet cute Irish girls doing the same thing.

Education in Australia ain't what is were- now as expensive as US. A plan could be to get a company to sponsor you for permanent residency (there is a skills shortage in Australia), the you will be able to start a course in the semi excellent TAFE (Tasmania and Victoria) system. TAFE is a good leg up into UNI (college) or learn a trade

Western Australia or Queesnsland destinations than NSW jobs wise.

It's a good time for young people to immigrate to Australia. Can be done.
posted by mattoxic at 3:32 AM on February 29, 2008

I mean Western Australia or Queesnsland are better destinations than NSW jobs wise.
posted by mattoxic at 3:35 AM on February 29, 2008

Totally unrequested advice: skip school, find an interesting line of work that you enjoy, go apprentice doing it. It doesn't sound like you have any real desire to be in school. It will always be there, but you can only be out of school debt once (as in now). Why don't you save some money, go have an adventure in Australia, get a job there.

Fixing boats is always a smart thing to know how to do. There are a lot of boats in California. There are even more boats in Australia. They break a lot. It's honest work, hard work and you might learn something about your laziness in the process.

I wish I'd followed this advice myself, actually.
posted by sully75 at 5:47 AM on February 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all. I do agree that I'm not out of my "youthful mistake" mode either, but I can't help but pine for what I want. I did need criticism on a "forget about moving there sooner rather than later" perspective.
posted by lain at 11:54 AM on February 29, 2008

I second that QLD is a better place to go than NSW when it comes to jobs. If you don't working hard, you can get a labourers job. With the way the economy is going now, you can make a great pay packet as a labourer. Telemarketing, fruit picking/etc are also very popular with international students.

I wouldn't go WA because you are very far from anything. Let's face it, Australia is pretty far from everything as it comes, and WA just makes things worse. Perth is (apparently, don't quote me on this) the most isolated city in the world (FYI, Perth is the capital of WA).

Brisbane is nice, sub-tropical, yadda yadda. The housing boom has created a bit of a problem when it comes to rental property, but it shouldn't be too hard to find something within a month of getting here (there are tons of youth hostels in the city so you should be set for a while). There are also plenty of Unis to pick from, QUT, Griffith, UQ. UQ is the best in my opinion (note: slightly biased, doing a PhD there). It is a research intensive university, and will set you back as much as any other in QLD so if you are at all interested in research don't look anywhere else. It is also easier to find student housing within walking distance or a short bus/ferry trip than the other two (Griffith is out in the outer 'burbs, so it is boring, and QUT is in the city centre so apartments are expensive). Plus, you'd probably end up sharing with a bunch of other internationals.

I wouldn't recommend going to Sydney. Jobs are harder to get, the city is not that much nicer (yes it is bigger and more touristy, but it is a bit meh). I love visiting Sydney, but I'd hate to live there.

I'd say go with Brisbane or Melbourne (Brisbane's advantage is that you can drive up to the Sunshine Coast or down to the Gold Coast for a nice day out). Both have world-class unis (UQ for Bris and U of Melbourne and Monash for Melb), nice enough weather (Brisbane doesn't have a real winter, Melbourne gets f-ing cold), stuff to do (moreso in Melbourne). If you love European cities, Melbourne is your ticket to happiness. If you like beaches and summer, Brisbane will be nicer.
posted by doctor.dan at 3:08 AM on March 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

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