SOCIAL & CULTURAL

ADJUSTING TO LIFE IN AUSTRALIA

While living, and studying abroad may be an exciting adventure, it can also present a range of challenges. Having decided to study and live in Australia you will be undertaking adjustments in many areas of your life including cultural, social and academic. It is also important to remember that while these changes are occurring you will be embarking upon a new semester of study (for many of you in a different language) and be away from your usual supports, networks and resources. Adjustment to a new country and culture is a process that occurs gradually and takes time. The values, beliefs, traditions and customs of your home country may vary greatly from those in Australia and adapting to the Australian way of life may take some time.

DURING A STORM


There are some things you can do to stay safe:

  • Stay indoors and away from windows.
  • Unplug sensitive electrical devices like computers, televisions and video recorders.
  • Listen to your radio for weather updates.
  • Don’t use a landline telephone during an electrical storm (Source: NSW SES)




IF YOU ARE CAUGHT OUTSIDE DURING A STORM


  • Get inside a vehicle or building if possible.
  • If no shelter is available, crouch down, with your feet close together and head tucked in.
  • If in a group – spread out, keeping people several metres apart.
  • Don’t try to drive through flood waters.Floodwater may be deeper and faster flowing than it appears and often contains hidden dangersand debris. (Source: NSW SES Floodsafe)





CULTURE SHOCK

Culture shock is the feeling of being out of place in an unfamiliar environment. The initial excitement of moving to a new country often subsides when different cultural expectations challenge you to attend to daily responses and behaviours previously taken for granted. The potential stress of dealing with these persistent challenges can result in feelings of hostility and frustration with your host country as well as a profound longing for home.

OVERCOMING CULTURE SHOCK


Once you realise you have culture shock, getting over it and moving on to better adjustment with the host culture will depend on you. It is you who must take some positive steps to feel better, and the sooner you take them, the better!

  1. Recognition: First, you should remember that culture shock is a normal part of your adjustment and that you may have some of the symptoms. Some of your reactions may not be normal for you; you may be more emotional or more sensitive, or lose your sense of humour. Recognising your culture shock symptoms will help you learn about yourself as you work your way through it.
  2. Be objective: Second, try to analyse objectively the differences you are finding between your home and your host country. Look for the reasons your host country does things differently. Remember that host customs and norms are (mostly) logical to them, just as your customs and norms at home are logical to you!
  3. Set goals: Third, set some goals for yourself to redevelop your feeling of control in your life. These should be small tasks that you can accomplish each day. For example, if you do not feel like leaving your room, plan a short activity each day that will get you out. Go to a post office or store to buy something, ride a bus or go to a sports event. If you feel that language is your problem, set daily goals to learn more: study fifteen minutes a day; learn five new words a day; learn one new expression each day; watch a TV program in your new language for 30 minutes. Each goal that you achieve will give you more and more self-confidence that you can cope.
  4. Share your feelings: Fourth, find local friends who are sympathetic and understanding. Talk to them about your feelings and specific situations. They can help you understand ideas from their cultural point of view.

(Source: Rotary International Youth Exchange)





AUSTRALIAN CULTURE

OVERCOMING CULTURE SHOCK


Once you realise you have culture shock, getting over it and moving on to better adjustment with the host culture will depend on you. It is you who must take some positive steps to feel better, and the sooner you take them, the better!

  1. Recognition: First, you should remember that culture shock is a normal part of your adjustment and that you may have some of the symptoms. Some of your reactions may not be normal for you; you may be more emotional or more sensitive, or lose your sense of humour. Recognising your culture shock symptoms will help you learn about yourself as you work your way through it.
  2. Be objective: Second, try to analyse objectively the differences you are finding between your home and your host country. Look for the reasons your host country does things differently. Remember that host customs and norms are (mostly) logical to them, just as your customs and norms at home are logical to you!
  3. Set goals: Third, set some goals for yourself to redevelop your feeling of control in your life. These should be small tasks that you can accomplish each day. For example, if you do not feel like leaving your room, plan a short activity each day that will get you out. Go to a post office or store to buy something, ride a bus or go to a sports event. If you feel that language is your problem, set daily goals to learn more: study fifteen minutes a day; learn five new words a day; learn one new expression each day; watch a TV program in your new language for 30 minutes. Each goal that you achieve will give you more and more self-confidence that you can cope.
  4. Share your feelings: Fourth, find local friends who are sympathetic and understanding. Talk to them about your feelings and specific situations. They can help you understand ideas from their cultural point of view.

(Source: Rotary International Youth Exchange)





PUBLIC HOLIDAYS & SPECIAL CELEBRATIONS

Australians hold certain days each year as special days of national meaning. We may recognise the day with a holiday for everyone or we can celebrate the day as a nation with special events. Most States and Territories observe some of the public holidays on the same date. They have others on different dates or have some days that only their State or Territory celebrates. In larger cities, most shops, restaurants and public transport continue to operate on public holidays. In smaller towns, most shops and restaurants close.

DURING A STORM


There are some things you can do to stay safe:

  • Stay indoors and away from windows.
  • Unplug sensitive electrical devices like computers, televisions and video recorders.
  • Listen to your radio for weather updates.
  • Don’t use a landline telephone during an electrical storm (Source: NSW SES)




IF YOU ARE CAUGHT OUTSIDE DURING A STORM


  • Get inside a vehicle or building if possible.
  • If no shelter is available, crouch down, with your feet close together and head tucked in.
  • If in a group – spread out, keeping people several metres apart.
  • Don’t try to drive through flood waters.Floodwater may be deeper and faster flowing than it appears and often contains hidden dangersand debris. (Source: NSW SES Floodsafe)





HOME FIRE SAFETY

International students are increasingly appearing in statistics related to fire incidents and deaths in Australia. Sadly, most of these fires are preventable. You can take some simple steps to reduce the risk of fire in your accommodation. Follow the fire safety tips below to help you reduce the chance of fire in your accommodation.

OVERCOMING CULTURE SHOCK


Once you realise you have culture shock, getting over it and moving on to better adjustment with the host culture will depend on you. It is you who must take some positive steps to feel better, and the sooner you take them, the better!

  1. Recognition: First, you should remember that culture shock is a normal part of your adjustment and that you may have some of the symptoms. Some of your reactions may not be normal for you; you may be more emotional or more sensitive, or lose your sense of humour. Recognising your culture shock symptoms will help you learn about yourself as you work your way through it.
  2. Be objective: Second, try to analyse objectively the differences you are finding between your home and your host country. Look for the reasons your host country does things differently. Remember that host customs and norms are (mostly) logical to them, just as your customs and norms at home are logical to you!
  3. Set goals: Third, set some goals for yourself to redevelop your feeling of control in your life. These should be small tasks that you can accomplish each day. For example, if you do not feel like leaving your room, plan a short activity each day that will get you out. Go to a post office or store to buy something, ride a bus or go to a sports event. If you feel that language is your problem, set daily goals to learn more: study fifteen minutes a day; learn five new words a day; learn one new expression each day; watch a TV program in your new language for 30 minutes. Each goal that you achieve will give you more and more self-confidence that you can cope.
  4. Share your feelings: Fourth, find local friends who are sympathetic and understanding. Talk to them about your feelings and specific situations. They can help you understand ideas from their cultural point of view.

(Source: Rotary International Youth Exchange)





SUN SAFETY

Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. In fact, one in every two Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point during their lifetime. The good news is, it can be prevented.  By minimising your exposure to the sun’s damaging ultraviolet radiation (UVR), you can protect your skin and prevent the development of skin cancer.

SUN PROTECTION


Skin cancer and skin damage are caused by being exposed to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVR). The key to preventing skin cancer is to protect your skin from the sun by practising sun safe behaviours.

There are six simple steps you can follow to reduce your risk of skin cancer and protect your skin:

  1. Minimise your time in the sun between 10am and 3pm
  2. Seek shade
  3. Wear suitable clothing that provides good sun protection
  4. Choose a broad brim, legionnaire-style or bucket-style hat that will protect your face, neck and ears
  5. Wear UV protective sunglasses
  6. Apply SPF 30+ broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen 20 minutes before you go out into the sun.





BEACH SAFETY

Understanding the ocean is very important – the more you know about how waves, wind and tides affect conditions in the water, the better able you are to keep yourself safe, or even rescue others, from danger. Recognising danger signs and awareness of surf conditions is an essential part of lifesaving.

REMEMBER THE F-L-A-G-S AND STAY SAFE


Find the flags and swim between them – the red and yellow flags mark the safest place to swim at the beach.

Look at the safety signs – they help you identify potential dangers and daily conditions at the beach.

Ask a surf lifesaver for some good advice – surf conditions can change quickly so talk to a surf lifesaver or lifeguard before entering the water.

Get a friend to swim with you – so you can look out for each other’s safety and get help if needed. Children should always be supervised by an adult.

Stick your hand up for help – if you get into trouble in the water, stay calm, and raise your arm to signal for help. Float with a current or rip – don’t try and swim against it.

And remember – NEVER

Never swim at unpatrolled beaches
Never swim at night
Never swim under the influence of alcohol
Never run and dive into the water
Never swim directly after a meal




THE SURF ENVIRONMENT - RIPS


A rip is a strong current running out to sea. Rips are the cause of most rescues performed at beaches. A rip usually occurs when a channel forms between the shore and a sandbar, and large waves have built up water which then returns to sea, causing a drag effect. The larger the surf, the stronger the rip and rips are dangerous, as they can carry a weak or tired swimmer out into deep water.

IDENTIFYING A RIP

The following features will alert you to the presence of a rip:

  • darker colour, indicating deeper water
  • murky brown water caused by sand stirred up off the bottom
  • smoother surface with much smaller waves, alongside white water (broken waves)
  • waves breaking further out to sea on both sides of the rip
  • debris floating out to sea
  • a rippled look, when the water around is generally calm




SURF SKILLS


Escaping from a Rip

If you are caught in a rip:

  • Don’t Panic – stay calm
  • If you are a strong swimmer, swim at a 45 degree angle across the rip and in the same direction as the current until you reach the breaking wave zone, then return to shore
  • If you are a weak or tired swimmer, float with the current, don’t fight it. Swim parallel to the shore for about 30 – 40m until you reach the breaking wave zone, then swim back to shore or signal for help.
  • Remember to stay calm and conserve your energy.




NEGOTIATING THE SURF


Before entering the surf, always make note of a landmark such as a building or headland that can be seen from the water and used as a guide for maintaining a fixed position. Also check the depth of any gutter and the height of any sandbank before diving under waves – this will help prevent spinal injury.

When going out through the surf, negotiate the shallows by a high hurdle type of stride until the breakers reach your waist or until your progress is slowed.

Waves of any size and force should not be fought against and should be negotiated by diving underneath, giving you time to reach the bottom and lie as flat as possible on the sand while the wave passes over.

Your hands can be dug into the sand in front at arm’s length for stability and as a pull forward when ready to surface.

If the water is deep enough, bring your knees up under your body so you can get a good push off the bottom, like an uncoiling spring. This gives added force to your next dive. Repeat this process until in chest-deep water, and then start swimming.

If a broken wave approaches when the water is not too deep, dive down and run or crawl along the bottom. In deep water, do not use extra energy trying to reach the bottom; instead duck dive to just below the turbulence. Wait for the wash to pass and then push or kick to the surface (off the bottom, if possible).

Stick to your predetermined path on the swim out. Check your position by occasionally raising your head for a quick look when swimming on top of a swell. (Source: Surf Lifesaving Australia)





BUSH & OUTBACK SAFETY

Australia has many extraordinary and beautiful places to explore. If you are going on a trip, travel with other people, make sure someone knows where you are at all times and stay on a road or a walking track.

SMOKE ALARMS


When you are sleeping, you cannot smell smoke. Smoke alarms save lives. They wake you and alert you to the danger from smoke and fire. You MUST have a smoke alarm where you live, it is the law. All homes must have a smoke alarm on each level. Landlords are legally responsible for installation of alarms in rental properties. Tenants are responsible for testing and maintaining alarms. If you live on campus, there will be a smoke alarm in your room. If you live off campus in a house or flat there must be a smoke alarm outside your bedroom. Look after your smoke alarm; it can save your life.

  • Test your smoke alarm monthly by pressing the test button.
  • DON’T remove the battery
  • DON’T take the smoke alarm down
  • DON’T cover the smoke alarmReplace the battery in your smoke alarm yearly.
  • Regularly vacuum over and around your smoke alarm to remove dust and debris to keep it clean.

If there is no smoke alarm or it does not work report it to your landlord.




ELECTRICITY


The safe use of electricity assists in preventing house fires.

  • Improper use of power boards and double adaptors can lead to fires. A double adaptor or a power board plugged into another double adaptor or power board creates a danger of overloading the system. For safety, use a single extension cord rather than joining shorter cords. Leaving an extension cord coiled while in use or placing a cord under floor coverings can cause overheating
  • Be careful to keep electrical appliances away from water. A hair dryer takes time to cool down. For safety, allow this to happen on an inflammable surface before storing it.
  • Computers, monitors and TVs can overheat and cause fires even when not in use. They should be turned off after each session. Good air circulation is necessary around TVs and videos. TVs should be turned off at the set, not only with the remote control.
  • Light globes can become very hot. It is dangerous to cover a lamp with any type of fabric. To dim a lamp it is recommended that a lower wattage globe is used. (Source:Fire and Rescue, NSW)




HEATERS


It’s nice to keep yourself warm in the cooler weather, but remember heaters are a major cause of house fires

  • Read and follow the operating instructions for your heater.
  • All clothes and curtains should be at least one metre from the heater.
  • Turn off all heaters before you leave your room or go to bed.
  • Before you go to bed at night or leave your home, ensure heaters are turned off at their power source and fires are extinguished.




CANDLES, OIL BURNERS AND CIGARETTES


Candles, oil burners and cigarettes can all be dangerous fire hazards.

  • Do not smoke in bed.
  • Dampen cigarette butts before putting them in the rubbish.
  • Make sure your candles are on properly designed candle holders.
  • Don’t leave your room when a candle or oil burner is alight.
  • Don’t go to sleep when a candle or oil burner is alight.
  • Do not put candles or oil burners near windows; be careful, curtains can catch fire easily.




COOKING


Most house fires start in the kitchen.

  • Prepare food only in the kitchen.

  • Always stay in the kitchen while food is cooking.

  • Hot oils and fats catch fire easily.

  • DO NOT use water to put out an oil fire.

  • Use a dry powder extinguisher, fire blanket or saucepan lid to extinguish,

  • “If Safe To Do So”.

  • Turn off the cooking appliance before you leave the room or go to bed.




PLAN YOUR ESCAPE


In a Fire:

  1. Get down on the floor. Crawl to the door.
  2. Get out of your room.
  3. Close the door. This prevents smoke and fire from spreading
  4. Alert others.
  5. When outside stay out.
  6. Call 000

(Source: Fire and Rescue, NSW)





STORM SAFETY

Storms can happen anywhere and at any time of the year. Storms are more common during storm season – from October to the end of April, but it is important to be aware all year round. Severe storms can cause major damage. They may be accompanied by torrential rain, strong winds, large hailstones, loud thunder and lightning. Storms can cause flash flooding, un-roof buildings, and damage trees and powerlines. You can also be indirectly affected by storms even if your property is not damaged; such as losing power, or access roads being cut. The SES is responsible for managing the clean-up and helping people during and after a storm. For emergency assistance in floods and storms, call the NSW SES on 132 500

DURING A STORM


There are some things you can do to stay safe:

  • Stay indoors and away from windows.
  • Unplug sensitive electrical devices like computers, televisions and video recorders.
  • Listen to your radio for weather updates.
  • Don’t use a landline telephone during an electrical storm (Source: NSW SES)




IF YOU ARE CAUGHT OUTSIDE DURING A STORM


  • Get inside a vehicle or building if possible.
  • If no shelter is available, crouch down, with your feet close together and head tucked in.
  • If in a group – spread out, keeping people several metres apart.
  • Don’t try to drive through flood waters.Floodwater may be deeper and faster flowing than it appears and often contains hidden dangersand debris. (Source: NSW SES Floodsafe)





DANGEROUS ANIMALS & PLANTS

Australia is home to a variety of native animals. Even if they seem friendly to you, do not touch or feed them – they are not used to close contact with humans and may hurt you. If you are visiting any of Australia’s beautiful parks or forests.

DURING A STORM


There are some things you can do to stay safe:

  • Stay indoors and away from windows.
  • Unplug sensitive electrical devices like computers, televisions and video recorders.
  • Listen to your radio for weather updates.
  • Don’t use a landline telephone during an electrical storm (Source: NSW SES)




IF YOU ARE CAUGHT OUTSIDE DURING A STORM


  • Get inside a vehicle or building if possible.
  • If no shelter is available, crouch down, with your feet close together and head tucked in.
  • If in a group – spread out, keeping people several metres apart.
  • Don’t try to drive through flood waters.Floodwater may be deeper and faster flowing than it appears and often contains hidden dangersand debris. (Source: NSW SES Floodsafe)





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