The primary task for international students


Ma Yao with her homestay mother. (Photo by Kan Jiang)
Ma Yao with her homestay mother. (Photo by Kan Jiang)

Australia is growing into one of the most popular destinations for international students.

Last week was the beginning of a new semester as well as a brand new start for them.

How international students choose accommodation during the time they are away from family is one of their main concerns.

There are three main options including homestay, dormitory and share house.

Ma Yao, is a first year The University of Queensland student arrived in Brisbane two weeks ago from China when her homestay mother Helen, picked her up at the airport.

“My older sister who used to live in this homestay recommended it to me, she thinks the homestay parents are friendly and the atmosphere is harmonious. For me, it is definitely a must for getting into the Australian life more quickly,” she said.

Chinese students in share house watch Chinese TV programme. Photo by Kan Jiang
Chinese students in share house watch Chinese TV programme. Photo by Kan Jiang

“I feel good in these last two weeks [because] Helen took me to the bank, shopping mall and bus station and she showed me how to go to university.

“We have dinner together every night and talk a lot about everything and I think I can improve my English quickly.

“Last Sunday, Helen took me to the local market called Northey Street organic market and it opened my eyes.”

Helen told The Source News “this is the 11th year that I have been involved in homestay.

“I think the most important reason for international students to choose this kind of accommodation is that someone can prepare three meals for them, so they don’t need to worry about being hungry.”

Ma added, “I really enjoy homestay, however, the fee of homestay is expensive, approximately $250 per week so my sister, Cao Yang, left there when she got used to living in Australia last year.”

Cao Yang’s house is in Garden City and 20 minutes away from university by bus, which she found through the advertisements and the internet.

“It costs me $120 per week, less than a half of homestay,” Ms Yao said.

“There is a Korean girl and an Australian boy in the master room and two Chinese girls in single rooms.

“We all feel liberated in this house because there are no supervisors or parents.

“However, apart from the communication with the couple, we talk to each other in Chinese, so this is not good for us to improve our English.”

Even so, Cao Yao does not want to move as it is the most cost-effective way after all.

A different situation again is Abdul, who is a PHD student in engineering from Iran, is currently living in the students’ dormitory on campus.

“What I appreciate most is that I walk to the class just in five minutes,” he said.

“The eatery provides us three meals a day.

“If I miss a meal time due to classes, it will offer me a seven dollar voucher to get meals in any cafe on campus.

“I also can use the free shuttle bus to the shopping mall at weekends.

Abdul’s dormitory on campus. Photo by Nannaphat Sritakoonrut
Abdul’s dormitory on campus. Photo by Nannaphat Sritakoonrut

“However, I can’t get enough communication with others in the dormitory.

“Everyone closes their doors so I feel lonely, even if there is a community hall on each level.

“Worse still, it costs me $330 per week so I am thinking of moving to share house with my friends.”

There is no single best solution of accommodation, students solve the problems in different ways.

It is a part of being more independent and managing their lives in a foreign country.


Kan has worked in the media producing news and current affairs for the past 5 years in China. Kan has a special interest in social media in natural disaster as well as travelling,hotel managementl,etc.
You can contact Kan @hlmer570

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