This article is written by Alanna Tomazin

You are studying and enjoying life in Australia and with many of the new challenges you face it is quite easy to overlook your health and the environmental changes that may affect it. You’re embarking on this great adventure in an environment which may differ in culture, food, climate, and lifestyle. All of this can impact upon your physical and emotional well-being. Remember you have to balance things to result in a healthier and happier you!

It’s important to know your health rights when being an international student in Australia. Health is so important and it is vital that you know how to maintain it when you’re so far away from home. To help you out we’ve come up with some ways you can keep yourself healthy and safe while studying here in Australia.

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Health Insurance

International students undertaking studies in Australia and your dependents (if you have any e.g. partners and children) must get Overseas Student Health Cover – OSHC, for the entire duration that you are over here. OSHC is an insurance to assist international students like you when it comes to covering costs for visits to the doctor, some hospital treatment, ambulance cover and limited medicines if you ever need it while studying here.

There are a number of insurers here in Australia who offer OSHC.

These include:

  • Australian Health Management
  • Allianz Global Assistance
  • BUPA Australia
  • NIB

Tip: Check with your host university for recommendations of who to insure with and for more information visit The Department of Health and OSHC Australia.

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Body Health

It is important that you remember to look after yourself while studying abroad. Living in a new country often means diet changes and a western diet tends to be higher in fat than diets from other regions. This can have a bit of an effect on your health and nutritional state. But not to worry there are plenty of ways to keep yourself healthy and still be able to enjoy the yummy foods Australia has to offer. You need to have the energy to exercise, socialise and study the best way to do this is to drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, exercise about 30 minutes of day and maintain a healthy diet! Check out some healthy recipes at Nutrition Australia.

Tip 1: The best way to exercise is to join in on one of the local sports teams at your host university – don’t be shy, it’s also a great way to make new friends!

Tip 2: Keeping your body healthy also creates a strong immune system which is your body’s defence to fight off any infection or illness you may get.

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Mental Health

 Studying in a new country is a very rewarding experience however sometimes it may be a bit daunting. Even though you are keeping busy with your studies and making new friends, you may be faced with times where you are feeling uncertain in an unfamiliar environment. You may feel lonely away from your family and friends and the pressures of studying – this is perfectly natural to experience.

However, if it seems to be drowning you in constant negative emotions then you may be suffering from stress, depression or anxiety or other mental health problems which can lead to tiredness and other health issues. If you’re feeling down please don’t be afraid to speak up. You can talk to your host university’s counsellor or you can get some more information online from support services such as Beyond Blue and Reach Out.

Tip: The best way to deal with feelings of depression and/or stress and anxiety, is to talk to someone about it! Bottling your feelings up is not good for your mental or physical health.

Staying safe in the Australian Environment 

Changes in the environment can have an effect on your health so it’s important to be aware of how to keep yourself safe.

Sun Safety

Australia’s sun is harsh and protection from it is pretty vital. So to save yourself from ending up like a bright red tomato and exposing yourself to the risk of skin cancer we’ve come up with some tips.

Tip 1: Avoid being in the sun directly between 10am and 3pm as this is the peak time when UV rays are out.

Tip 2: When in the sun, always remember to put on a sunscreen of at least SPF 30, you can find this at the local grocery store or a chemist.

Tip 3: Slip on a shirt, slop on the 30+ sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade or shelter and slide on some sunnies. Check out the Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide campaign here.

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For more information on how to keep yourself safe visit SunSafe and if you’ve been unlucky and need to treat some nasty sunburn, check out the Sunburn and Skin Cancer section.

Surf and Water Safety

 Australia offers many beautiful coastlines, therefore it is extremely important to understand surf and water safety when visiting popular Australian beaches.

Tip 1: If you want to swim, only swim at beaches that are patrolled by lifeguards. You can locate one here.

Tip 2: It’s important that you only swim in the designated areas – between the red and yellow flags.

Tip 3: It’s best to stay out of the water if you’re unsure of the surf conditions or there are no safety flags as this usually means that the water is not safe to go in. It’s vital that you obey the instructions of life guards and signage around the beach as they are there to protect you and to prevent anything bad from happening.

For some more Surf and Beach safety tips check out Surf Lifesaving Australia.

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Up to date with Vaccinations

 There are no specific immunisations required for entry into Australia, however, your host university may recommend that all of your routine vaccinations are up to date. If you’re not sure when you are meant to receive shots, don’t stress here is a schedule.

The easiest way to check if you’ve had vaccinations is to review your medical records and make sure that you have been vaccinated against Measles, Mumps and Rubella, Hepatitis A and B and have received a tetanus shot in the last 10 years. This will minimise your risk of catching anything while studying abroad. You can check out the Immunise Australia Program for more information.

Tip: You might also want to get a flu shot while in Australia as flu season hits pretty hard between the months of May and October.

Overall, the key is to look after yourself physically and mentally while studying here in Australia. However, don’t be scared if you have to enter the Australian Health Care System. Whether it’s an emergency or routine medical care, you may do it with confidence. Doctors undergo years of medical training, using the most advanced technologies for diagnosis and treatment. Nothing to worry about! Remember to enjoy yourself while studying here in Australia, keeping your health as one of your top priorities. Safe and happy travels from us here at Study Anywhere.

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