Interview about life in Melbourne: from Culture Shock to University admission

Close-up of colorful flowers in bloom during springtime

Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет

Today we will get acquainted with the story of Yulia Perera, a Russian woman who found her home on the other side of the world, in Australia. She shared with us her experience of adapting to Australian culture, talked about the nuances of admission to a local university and revealed the peculiarities of everyday life in Melbourne — from cold houses in winter to the absence of stray animals on the streets.

If you have money, it is not so difficult to come and legalize in Australia.

Moving to Australia on my wife’s visa

— My name is Julia, I am 37 years old. I am currently studying to be a nurse at an Australian university. I have two children — two boys (7 years old and 4 years old). I am married to an Australian who is originally from Sri Lanka. We have been living in Melbourne for the last 8 years.

Before meeting my future husband, I lived in Japan for 5 years and worked as a sales manager for a company that exported cars around the world.

If you have money, it is not so difficult to come and legalize in Australia. It is also desirable that your profession be in demand in this country. And knowledge of English, of course, is also required.

However, for most immigration programs there is an age limit of 45-49 years. The exception is investor visas, where age does not matter. Also, parents of Australian citizens can immigrate regardless of age.

It is best to assess the chances of moving with a migration agent, since everyone’s situations are different.

I moved to Australia on my wife’s visa, at the same time I received a residence permit. And two years later I was granted citizenship. Therefore, everything was relatively simple for me.

Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет


Admission to an Australian university and features of study

— After the birth of my second child, I thought about what I want to do when the children go to school. When the eldest son grew up,I decided to enroll as a nurse at a local university. The reason was that I had the opportunity to observe the work of nurses during the 5 days that I spent in the hospital with my son. Subsequently, I also wanted to master this profession.

What the process of my admission looked like:

  1. I started preparing around the middle of May. Applications for applicants began in August.
  2. In June, I passed the mandatory English exam and got the required score.
  3. It turned out that you can immediately enroll in the second year on the basis of an existing higher education. That’s why I transferred my 2014 Russian diploma and my school certificate. And of course, I attached an Australian passport (a certificate of citizenship is also suitable) — it helps to save on tuition.
  4. In addition, it was necessary to complete a 3-month course in anatomy and physiology. I finished it around October.
  5. While I was finishing the course, in August I applied to the university, indicating by what time the course would be completed.
  6. After completing the anatomy and physiology course, I attached a certificate at both universities and waited for the results.

The first results came around November – I was accepted for a two—year course in La Trobe University. A month later, I received a notification of admission to another university, but it was too far away, so I chose the first option. Thus, having applied in August, I already received a notification of enrollment in November. Classes began in February 2023.

It is important to note that the application dates may vary greatly from university to university. There are options when admission opens every three months, with the possibility to start studying in June, October, and so on.

In general, it usually takes 3 years to study in Australia to get higher education; sometimes 4 years if we are talking about obtaining a double specialty: for example, those who enrolled in nursing and midwifery study so much at my university.

Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет

Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет

— Now I will tell you directly about the learning process

After Covid, most classes and lectures at universities in Australia continued to be conducted online. Each student has access to a platform that has all the information about the necessary subjects. Each module contains lectures, training and additional materials, as well as links to them.

After each module, you need to take tests — also online. In addition, written papers and essays should be written for each subject. And then there are exams, during which the knowledge gained in practice is evaluated. 

For each module, we have one workshop, which you need to come to the university in person. There, classes are structured as follows: we are divided into groups, the lecturer gives us a topic, then asks each group a question about it, and at the end we discuss it all together. In addition, there are also laboratory classes where we practice clinical skills (how to take blood from a vein, put an IV, give injections, etc.).

In one or two subjects per semester, we have an internship, without which the entire subject does not count. It lasts for 2-3 weeks at first, and in the last semester — for 6 weeks. As a rule, the practice takes place in a hospital, and special clinical teachers are next to the students all the time, who evaluate their skills and suggest everything that is necessary.

Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет

Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет

— As for the cost of training I can only tell you about my experience and about my university. My payment is 7000 Australian dollars per year (~4650 USD), since I am a citizen.

If a foreigner arrives on a student visa, the cost already increases to 26,000 AUD (~17,266 USD) per semester — a girl from my university shared this information with me. And she, already being in Australia, applied for a scholarship. She was given it in the amount of AUD 13,000, which covered half of the tuition. Of course, no one can guarantee a scholarship, but, in principle, it is possible. 

I personally got into the program that the former Prime Minister was already promoting as part of his election campaign. Then he promised to make education for nurses free. He was chosen, and education became conditionally free for applicants in the 2023-2024 academic year. 

I got into this program because I started studying in 2023, and as part of this, 3,000 AUD (~2,000 USD) is credited to my card at the end of each academic year. And if I work in a state hospital for 2 years after graduation, I will be paid another 7000 Australian dollars.

When I first arrived in Melbourne, I was struck by the lack of people on the streets.

First impressions and comparison with Japan

— At first, it was very difficult for me to get used to life in Australia, because the rhythm of life here and in Japan is completely different. In the latter, life is in full swing: there are a lot of people around, bars and karaoke are filled at the end of the day, parties are constantly held.

And when you arrive in Australia, you feel like you are in a big village: many establishments and shops close early, there are few passers-by (especially in residential areas), there is silence around. And at first it was very depressing for me. But over time, I got used to it, especially when the children were born. It is much more comfortable to raise children here.

The big difference also lies in the fact that in Japan you will never become “your own” — no matter how long you lived there and no matter how perfectly you knew their language. I often had it happen when I talked to them in perfect Japanese, but they still answered in broken English — this is their automatic reaction at the sight of a foreigner. Moreover, not so long ago in Japan, foreigners were issued ID cards, which were called alien cards. This, perhaps, speaks volumes. 

In Australia, the situation is completely different: a huge number of nationalities live here, and you can immediately meet an Arab, an Indian, and a black man on the street — this is absolutely normal and familiar. That’s why everyone here accepts each other. 

Moreover, great attention is paid to this acceptance of all cultures at the state level: there are days when events are held in schools and concert halls, when everyone can come in their national costume and tell about their country and culture. Even at our university there was a subject in which we studied how important it is to respect other people’s cultures and perceive all people equally. I consider all this a big plus of living here.

Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет

Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет

— The availability of food in Japanese restaurants and the opposite situation in Australian establishments are also striking. This is especially true for lunches, during which good Japanese restaurants offer decent discounts — you can eat a hearty meal for $ 10. In Japanese stores, you can also always buy ready-made fresh food within 10 dollars.

In Australia, food is much more expensive: in the most budget restaurant, pasta will cost about $23. At the same time, the portions here are very large and the food itself is very heavy — often it is not accompanied by vegetables or salad at all. That’s why I prefer to eat at home, except that sometimes I go out to coffee shops. 

And another important point: it is very difficult to live in Australia without a car since transport is not as well developed as in Japan. The metro lines in the latter even reach remote towns and villages, and it is possible to travel between cities by high-speed trains. And in Tokyo and Okigawa — I lived in these two cities — you can quickly get from point to point, even with transfers. Transport runs frequently and by the hour.

In Australia, there are nuances to this: you have to wait from 20 to 40 minutes for the bus. The situation is better in the center, but it is still more convenient to travel by car. Therefore, almost every family has it.

Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет

The features of Australia that struck me

— When I first arrived in Melbourne, I was struck by the lack of people on the streets. It even caused me some depression. The fact is that in the city center, people mostly only study and work, but live in residential areas around Melbourne. And here almost everyone moves by car, so there is practically no one on the streets. After Japan, this feeling of desolation was especially unusual.

Another feature that is still difficult for me to get used to is the lack of central heating in apartments. In winter in Melbourne, the temperature outside is about +13 degrees, and indoors in the morning it can be +15-17 °C; in older houses it is even colder. There is gas heating here — special devices in the ceiling, from where warm air blows. But the use of such heating leads to high gas bills. I remember we had about 400 local dollars in 3 months. That’s why we installed solar panels, and now we use air conditioning in the living room instead of a gas heater.

Due to the cold, even at a temperature of 20-21 ° C in winter, the floors remain cold. I wear ugg boots and a hoodie at home, but it’s still cool. It turns out that you have to wear warm clothes at home for almost 6 months of the year.

By the way, I was surprised that according to the law in Australia, you can not change the light bulbs in the house yourself — you must definitely call an electrician. Apparently, there have been some incidents on this ground in the past.

The quality of cafes and restaurants in terms of atmosphere often leaves much to be desired. Especially not in the center. Even with delicious food, the room can be dirty. A restaurant can look like an ordinary cafe. Fast food establishments, such as McDonald’s, are rarely clean. Of course, there are beautiful places, but in residential areas the quality is mostly average. Most often, complaints arise precisely to the interior and the setting.

I compare it with Russia, although I have not lived there for a long time. If it is customary there to dress up for a trip to a restaurant, then here people calmly come in shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops.

And there are no stray dogs and cats in Australia. All animals are chipped and have owners. If you see a dog alone on the street, most likely it is lost. In this case, you need to call a special service that will pick up the animal and find the owner by chip.

Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет

Living with children in Australia

— It is very comfortable to live with children here. Firstly, there are few people here, and secondly, there are many opportunities and appropriate infrastructure. This is due to the fact that there are many families here, including those with many children (up to 5 children in a family is not uncommon here). There are many playgroups and centers in each area. And of course, kindergartens and schools. 

The only drawback is that kindergartens are very expensive. Our kindergarten costs 145 AUD per day (96 USD), but thanks to the subsidy, we pay only 58 local dollars. Families who cannot afford kindergarten have a hard time.

An important point: vaccinations are taken seriously here. They are allowed to go to school without them, but not to three— and four-year state kindergartens.

I like that the state helps families well. Single mothers are provided with assistance. If there is a person with mental or physical disabilities in the family, the state can provide a free assistant. They also support those who want to leave a family where there is violence. The social support system is very developed here.

Leisure and travel in Australia

— As a leisure activity, my family and I try to go somewhere. If we take a vacation, we like to travel around Australia, stay in different cities, rent a house. We can just rent a house for a few days and explore the surroundings. Now that I’m studying, I often spend weekends in the library. It takes us more than an hour to get to the sea, so we rarely go there, especially in winter.

There are many attractions around Melbourne, in our state of Victoria, which can be reached by car. Beautiful nature, famous places like the Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles. There are interesting small towns around Melbourne that we also go to sometimes.

You can stay on farms, rent a house there. Farmers usually live and work in one part and rent out the other. It is very interesting to stay in such places with children.

There are zoo reserves around our state and not only, where you can come to feed kangaroos and take pictures. 

Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет

Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет

Finding your first job in Australia is not easy.

Salaries, taxes and real estate in Australia

— I like that the standard of living here is quite high. Good salaries allow you to live without interrupting from penny to penny.

The average salary of an adult working full-time is 98,000 Australian dollars per year before taxes (~65,300 USD). But everything strongly depends on the specialty: IT specialists earn a lot, and kindergarten teachers do not earn much (55-60 thousand Australian dollars per year). Nurses initially earn from AUD 80,000 per year (~USD53,300). Work experience and additional education allow you to earn more.

In general, for a comfortable life in Australia, I think one adult needs 80,000–90,000 Australian dollars (~53,300—60,000 USD) per year before taxes. In this case, you can go to a restaurant once a week or order food, save up for travel, go somewhere with your family every year, pay the mortgage and so on.

Finding your first job in Australia is not easy. Some are looking for 1-2 years. The difficulty is that Australians look at the work experience in their country. Even if, for example, you have experience as a manager in a large Russian company and good English, it will be difficult to get a job in the same specialty here. As soon as you gain local experience, even in another field, you will be more willing to be hired.

In-demand specialties in Australia: nurses, design managers (working on construction sites), civil engineers, kindergarten teachers, business analysts, programmers, electricians, cooks, social workers. Working specialties, by the way, are very well paid here.

The tax in Australia is progressive Questioner: the more you earn, the higher the tax. If you earn less than AUD$18,200 per year (US$12,130), there will be no tax. Then it is distributed as follows:

  • With a salary in the range of 18,000–45,000 AUD: 19 cents for every dollar over 18,200.
  • 45,001–120,000 AUD: 5,092 plus 32.5 cents for every dollar over 45,000.
  • 120,001–180,000 AUD: 29,467 plus 37 cents for every dollar over 120,000.
  • 180,001 and above: $51,667 plus 45 cents for every dollar over 180,000.

Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет

— Our family with two children spends $250 a week on groceries — this is an average figure. Before the pandemic, it was cheaper, about $150, but prices went up a lot after COVID-19.

Basic food prices in Australia: milk costs 1.60 AUD, 12 eggs — 5 AUD, bread — 2.90 AUD.

As for real estate prices, I can say that in Sydney, for example, it is very difficult to buy your own home. Most of the real estate has already been bought and rented out. You can find your own housing only on the outskirts, and that’s not a fact.

As for buying a house in Melbourne, it’s still possible. Closer to the center, prices start at 2,000,000 Australian dollars (~1,330,000 USD) per house.

We bought a house in a residential area that had just begun to be built for 350,000 Australian dollars. Now it costs more, as the area has developed well, there is a lot of infrastructure around: kindergartens, schools, shops. When we arrived, there was a wasteland all around. In such areas under construction, which are located away from the center (we need to get there in 40 minutes by train or car), housing will cost less.

You can rent decent housing in Melbourne in the range of 250-350 local dollars (166-233 USD) per week. We are talking about renting one bedroom in an apartment or house. The kitchen will be shared, and the toilet will be either shared or private.

Many people from Melbourne moved to Brisbane after the pandemic. I’ve heard that housing there is no longer as affordable as it used to be. The prices are almost the same.

A significant disadvantage is the remoteness of Australia from other countries.

The pros and cons of living in Australia

I will summarize the main advantages and disadvantages of living in Australia.


  • High standard of living and good salaries. 
  • A well-developed social support system for families, single mothers and those in need. 
  • A multicultural society where everyone accepts each other. 
  • Comfortable conditions for living with children. 
  • Safety. Of course, there are disadvantaged areas where you can face robberies, carjackings, etc. I had an internship at a hospital in such a place, and there was even an escort service: if you park on the street, and not in the hospital parking lot, security can escort you to the car. But in most areas everything is fine. 
  • Beautiful nature and many attractions for traveling. 
  • Open and friendly locals. They can strike up a conversation at the mall or in line, make a compliment. Everyone is smiling and pleasant. Such “pitches” are already part of the culture in this country.


  • Distance from other countries. What I don’t like is the remoteness of Australia from other countries, including from Of Russia. To go to my hometown of Khabarovsk, you need to spend a lot of time: a flight through Dubai takes 40 hours with several transfers.
  • The lack of central heating in the houses. 
  • The high cost of kindergartens. 
  • Expensive real estate.
  • Difficulties in finding a first job for immigrants. 
  • High prices for sending parcels abroad. For example, sending a small parcel weighing 500 grams to Kazakhstan will cost 40 AUD (26.5 USD).
  • The need to have a car. 
  • Superficiality in communication is the reverse side of those same pitches. When the locals ask how you’re doing, they don’t want to hear about your problems. That is, no one here aspires to deep conversations. 

Tips for those who are planning to move

— Some tips for those who are planning to move to Australia:

  • Eat your fill of cheesecakes, cottage cheese and dumplings, because it’s not always easy to find them here, especially in small remote towns. 
  • Bring all your diplomas and even children’s medical records. 
  • Bring baby tights if necessary, as they cannot be found here. They only wear leggings with open socks here.
  • Take warm clothes and wool socks with you, because in winter you will have to dress warmly in houses in Melbourne.
  • Bring good shoes. Here it is often of poor quality, and a good one is very expensive. By the way, do not take a lot of shoes with heels, they are almost not worn here. They prefer practical shoes, sneakers.

And yes, save up more money before moving.

Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет

Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет


Интервью о жизни в Мельбурне: от культурного шока до поступления в университет

Yulia Yanukovych Editor-in-Chief

I am responsible for the work of the editorial office. I write expert interviews and guides.


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