You have found a course and have enrolled.
Studying in Australia is likely to be very different from what you are used to.
The relationship between teachers and students, the discussions that take place in class,
the expectations of punctuality and regular attendance…. What do you need to know
before you start, or while you are in the course?
The information below may help you overcome the challenges of studying in a different culture.
Remember being a school or at university? Your experience studying in Australia is likely to be very different. You will find yourself in a course with other adults. Adult education is a very different approach to learning and the relationship between teachers and students is also not what you may be used to.
As an adult learner, you will be encouraged to ask questions and you can even disagree with your teacher (as long as you can give reasons for your opinion!). You can ask the teacher and the school for help if you are finding the course difficult – many education providers offer ‘study skills support’ for students who speak English as a second language.
If you are experiencing other difficulties, for instance in your personal life, you can ask to meet with Student Services: you can talk to their counsellors about your problems.
This is up to you.
Many people enjoy the fact that other students do not know they are seeking asylum. It gives them the freedom to be themselves without this ‘label’ that they carry in other parts of their lives.
You may not want to tell other students, but it can be useful to tell your teacher or your course coordinator. They will be in a better position to help you if you are experiencing difficulties. For instance, if you have a hearing coming up with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) or the Refugee Review Tribunal, you may find it hard to concentrate in class. It will be difficult for your teacher to understand this and to provide support if they do not know your circumstances.
Ultimately, the decision to tell or not to tell is yours, and your ASSET worker will not disclose your status without your permission. Talk about this with your ASSET worker if you need some advice.
One aspect of studying in an adult learning environment is that you may be asked to answer questions about yourself in class. The teacher will often encourage students to get to know each other and talk a bit about themselves. This is just so that the class is a friendly environment – it is not meant to intrude on your privacy or make you feel uncomfortable.
If you have come to Australia to seek asylum, answering such questions may actually make you feel uncomfortable. It is up to you to decide how much information you wish to share, and you may want to prepare some answers to common questions.
For instance, think of what you would say if asked these questions:
- Where do you come from?
- How did you come to Australia?
- Describe your family
- What do you like about Australia?
- Who lives in your house with you?
- What are your plans for the future?
It is good for you to prepare a response to these questions so that you are not caught unaware in class.