International Students: Your top 7 questions about Sydney answered!

By Gemma Nardone

This handy guide answers international students’ top 7 questions about living in Sydney.

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1. Orientation Day at Lexis English

Orientation Day is usually on a Monday (unless there’s a public holiday), in which case it will be a Tuesday. Lexis Sydney students can find a list of NSW public holidays here.

Arrival time for all students (including evening students) is 8.30am. Remember to bring your passport, visa and a small photograph of yourself.

You will be given some forms to complete, then tested and interviewed. It usually takes the whole morning to complete orientation, so keep the time free.

Your interviewer will explain which class you will join, the time your class starts and which room you will be in.

After lunch, one of our teachers will take those who wish on a walking tour of Manly. It’s a great way to get to know the area, make new friends and to ask questions. The tour usually leaves at 1.15pm.

Classes, books and student cards

After orientation and the walking tour of Manly, new students are free for the rest of the day. Your English classes will begin the next day.

Students who want a student card should provide a small photograph to Reception. Remember to write your name clearly on the back. If you give the photograph to Reception on Orientation Day, you will usually be able to collect your student card at the end of the week.

2. As an international student, how do I apply for an Australian Tax File Number?

International students can apply for an Australian Tax File Number (TFN) after they have arrived in Australia. Applications are free and can be completed online at the Australian Tax Office website.

3. How do I find accommodation?

House Graphic

Lexis English Students who are in Sydney for 6 months or longer sometimes take up tenancies in shared rental accommodation.

Before taking up a tenancy, it’s worth looking at the NSW Government Department of Fair Trading website. There, you will find guidance on how to start a residential tenancy agreementLikewise, the Tenancy Union has useful information about share housing, plus fact sheets and online articles, a podcast about negotiating a tenancy, as well as advice for tenants when things go wrong.

IMPORTANT: If you intend to lease a house so that you can share it with your partner or other students, make sure more than one person signs the lease with you! Otherwise, you might be responsible for paying costs you hadn’t intended to take responsibility for e.g. if one of you leaves the property before the lease ends, or if the property is damaged.

To find properties to lease, try these websites:

Suburbs close to Lexis Manly include Balgowlah, Brookvale, Dee Why, Fairlight, Manly Vale, Clontarf and Seaforth.

Private ads can sometimes be found on Facebook groups.

For youth hostel accommodation try:


For students who want to be immersed in the ‘Australian Experience’, paying to stay with a friendly Homestay family may be the ideal situation for you.

Homestay Host families generally live within easy commute of the college. The family provides some meals, accommodation and an opportunity to practice speaking English at home.

Lexis English Homestays are approved to provide accommodation for our students by the Sydney Homestay Coordinator. Your Host Family will be able to give you a truly local perspective, and can help you to feel comfortable and at home while you study.

Homestays are very popular with Lexis English students, so there is often a waitlist. If you are interested in Homestay make sure to let the Lexis English Registrars know this before you arrive in Australia.

Read this blog by Lexis Sydney Homestay Host – Belinda Eady.

Accommodation workshop for Lexis Sydney students

Lexis Sydney students can attend an accommodation workshop on Wednesdays – check your timetable for time and classroom number. At the workshop your teacher will give tips and guidance on searching for and applying for accommodation. Topics include:

  • Tips on accommodation search
  • What a lease is, and
  • What a Rental Bond is

4. Where can I open a bank account?

Lexis Sydney students will find the following major banks close by on The Corso:

As an international student you must be 18 years or older to open an account in Australia. Most banks will allow you to open a bank account online but to withdraw funds you will have to verify your identity in person. To do this, visit the bank with ID such as your passport, proof of residence, birth certificate and driver’s licence.

Which bank is best?

The bank that’s best for you will depend on what you need (and sometimes, which country you are from).

Here’s a few questions to ask:

  • Do you provide a student account?
  • What account keeping fees do you charge and how often do I pay them?
  • Is there a limit on the number of free transactions I’m allowed for ATMs, EFTPOS, counter deposits, phone, and internet?
  • What is the foreign exchange fee for the currency of my country?
  • Can I make international transfers to and from the bank in my home country? What fees are involved? How long will the transfer take?

5. I want to work in Australia. Where should I go for help?

Many international students choose to study English in Sydney because of the work opportunities here.

Lexis Sydney students can attend a guided one-hour job search workshop. Teacher led, students learn how to create and write a resume, where to look for job ads and can practice their interview technique.

Job ads in and near Manly are also posted to the Lexis Sydney blog, together with tips and useful information. Visit the blog each week or scan the QR codes that are pinned to class-room notice boards. If you are interested in hospitality or construction work you should read this article.

Below are two websites that will help with job search:

6. How do I get to and from college?

Transport Graphic

Lexis Sydney is a short ferry ride from Sydney city. Most people who work or study here prefer to use public transport or to ride bicycles.

The Trip Planner tool on the NSW Department of Transport website is handy to know about. It will show you which service to use, how long the journey will take and the cost of the fare.

Important: You will need an Opal card to travel on public transport in Sydney. You can find out about Opal cards here. Students at Lexis Sydney can buy their opal cards at Humphrey’s Newsagency on the Corso.

To buy a second-hand bike, try Facebook groups like this and websites such as:

7. Help! I lost my wallet on either the bus, ferry, tram, or train. What should I do?

This is what one of our students did to recover a wallet that she left on a bus. It was extra concerning for her because her flight to return to Japan was the next day!

  1. She completed an online lost property report here.
  2. Then she telephoned 131500 (the number to use for all lost property reports on NSW Public Transport).
  3. Next, she waited for another bus on the same route and told the driver what had happened. He radioed the depot and within a few hours her wallet was found. True story!

How to use this guide

Students coming to Lexis Sydney can download this guide as a handy reference.

Download the guide

And remember, if you need help or have questions, the friendly team at Lexis Sydney will be happy to assist!

About Lexis Sydney

Lexis Sydney overlooks the world famous surf breaks of Manly Beach.

The school provides quality education experiences in Elementary English, IELTS Preparation, Cambridge FCE and Cambridge CAE

Open 13 hours a day Monday – Friday, Lexis Sydney provides morning, afternoon and evening classes. The average class size is 12-15 and the school can accommodate approximately 438 students.

Manly is a vibrant holiday destination, a short ferry ride across the iconic harbour from Sydney City. It also provides easy access to Sydney’s spectacular Northern Beaches, the historic Hawkesbury River, as well as the beautiful Garigal and Kur-in-gai Chase National Parks. Activities in these locations include kayaking, hang-gliding, river boat tours, picnicking and walking areas, tours of Aboriginal cultural sites and some popular horse riding and mountain bike trails.

Contact us to enquire about booking a course at Lexis Sydney.

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