Hai Chi Tran Author

Studying in Australia: Adelene Ooi

Written by Your Story

Religion is always an interesting subject. Meet Adelene Ooi, who can speak 4 languages – English, Mandarin, Malay, and Hokkien (dialect), and find out what made her keen to learn the Bible and become a Christian.

Hello, I am Adelene Ooi. I am from Penang Malaysia which has good food and great tourist attractions. I came to Adelaide, Australia in July 2015. At that time, I had just finished by high school and started a course of Accounting at TAFE SA. I chose Adelaide instead of Sydney or other busy cities because I like country atmosphere and I feel safe living here. It is so peaceful, quiet and I get to be surrounded by nature.

I would say that I did not find it so difficult to live in Australia without family because coming to Australia for my future studies is my dream. Language is not a challenge for me; however I will still need to keep improving daily by communicating with friends, reading, and more.


How did studying overseas change you?

I feel much more confident about my communication skills. I am more independent and cooking better. Overall, I am still trying to improve myself everyday.

During high school back in Malaysia, I played many sports competitively such as volleyball, running marathons and jogging. After relocating to South Australia, it eventually suited me a lot and felt just like my second home. Whenever I felt tired of studying, I go hiking, cycling, enjoy sunsets by the beach and more to energize myself.

Australia is a beautiful country and the local council also does a great job at maintaining the national parks for visitors to stay safe.


If you are in Adelaide, I would recommend the top of Mouth Lofty in Adelaide Hills. You will get to see the stunning Adelaide landscape at the top look out and the sunset/sunrise. While you are there it is also great to go hiking and explore nature around you. If you are really lucky, you can meet joeys, see koalas hugging trees and different types of birds.



How did you manage your time and improve your personal skills?

I do not have any part-time job, so I am not struggling with time management. On weekdays, I go to class and do all the homework, and I have the weekend free to relax and do what I love to.

Local people living in Adelaide are really kind and friendly. I try to involve myself in English conversations everyday to improve my English skills.


What did you find interesting and inspiring about your major – Accounting?

“I do enjoy it! If not, I really am having hard time doing it….”

Never regret starting from TAFE because the classes are small and more of the course work is focused on practical skills. Since the class is small, teacher and students have time and chances to know each other. There will be a lot of homework, but the lectures give us support. So just make sure that you are hard-working, and you will eventually get on the right track. For me, I love the subjects I am doing.

“I will finish my course in TAFE for 2 years and then credit transfer to university.”


What do you do to reduce stress or enjoy studying?

In my free time, I go to church on Sundays to catch up with friends and chat about life. I also like to go hiking for short distances such as coastal walks along the beach by myself.

I volunteer to coach basketball and other sports to special education high school kids. It requires me to have a lot of patience and compassion. In return I do learn many things like team work, problem solving, initiative and enterprise, planning and organizing, learning, using technology and self-management.


How did you become a Christian? 

Everyone has awesome history to begin with, that’s why you have your awesome today! My introduction to church was a little bit random. I met a girl at the beach some time in April and after a great chat she invited me to go to church for Bible studies. She thought I wouldn’t turn up, but I eventually did.

After that, I went to the church more frequently and begin to read the Bible. To know what the gospel is about, you also need to dedicate yourself to reading, investigating and asking questions. For me, just listening to the preachers wasn’t confronting enough.

From just a random encounter at the start, in the end it was far from random. I just decided to make the first step and see where the surprising (but trustworthy) invitation led me. Now I believe that becoming a Christian was not my duty, but my destiny. We are not born perfect, we all need each other to play our part to reach out to people who need help.


  • If you could give an advice for international students what would it be?

    Stand up for yourself, don’t be afraid for everything. Don’t be scared of anything. And work hard!

  • What would you say to inspire international students to get better in the future?

    Join some clubs. You can go to the church to meet new people. Show yourself, and be cool for volunteering to see the world.


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4 Best Mooncake Flavours in Sydney

Written by Editor’s Picks, Entertainment

What is your favourite type of mooncake?

Mooncakes are eaten during the annual Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival on the 15th August of Chinese Lunar calendar. Originally, this festival celebrated the moon. The moon is seen as a symbol for family unity and harmony as well as an abundance of harvest. Since it is a very popular festival, mooncakes are sold in almost every Asian food shop.

Cre: Purple Cane Malaysia

There are various types of fillings based on the culture or the region’s tradition. In Australia, since it is a very popular festival, mooncakes are sold in almost every Asian food shop or bakery. One of the most common places that have the most types of Chinese mooncakes is Breadtop or Market City. In Breadtop, besides the traditional flavors, there are a few more special fillings such as white lotus seed paste with triple yolks, lava custard, low sugar white lotus seed paste and macadamia nuts, mixed nuts with ham and so on.

Lava custard mooncake (Cre: Miss Tam Chiak)

Cre: Purple Cane Malaysia

Interestingly, new generations of mooncakes can have transformations in taste and dietary needs, since people are more conscious about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, bakers created low-fat, low-sugar mooncakes with ingredients such as yogurt, jelly, and fat-free ice cream. They also offer a healthier choice of filling like green tea, ginger, fruits or veggies. According to some brands, one baked lotus seed paste mooncake with one egg yolk weighs about 180g, has 790 calories, and contains 45g of fat.

Jelly Mooncake (Cre: http://kay.vn)

Here are more types of mooncakes around the world:

1/Vietnamese Mooncakes

Mooncakes in Vietnam are widely known as ‘Banh Trung Thu’ with two common kinds: Baked sticky rice cake and plain sticky rice cake. Both are prepared from cooked glutinous rice. The mooncakes have a crust consisting of cooked glutinous rice powder, sugar and water. The filling consists of delicious ingredients like jam, mung beans, eggs, lotus seed and watermelon seed.

Banh Nuong (Baked Mooncake) (Cre: thegioiphunu.net)

Homemade Vietnamese mixed fruits and nuts mooncake (Cre: Savourydays.com)

Colorful Banh Deo (Colorful Sticky Rice Mooncake) Credit: http://kenh14.vn/

2/Green Tea Mooncakes

Mooncakes and tea are a traditional combination of Chinese food and together they create a new flavour. The green tea mooncakes are made by adding green tea powder to the other fillings and some lotus paste.

                         Mövenpick Green tea Mooncake and Tiramisu with Cheese Mooncake (Cre: Mövenpick)

3/Geppei (Japanese Mooncakes)

Mooncakes in Japan are known as Geppei. The red bean paste (Azuki) is the most popular filling, followed by chestnuts and beans. Unlike other mooncakes, Geppei does not make use of egg yolks as it is not preferred by many Japanese people.

Rabbit Wagashi Mooncakes (Cre: Little Miss Bento)

4/Ice Cream Mooncake

Sounds exciting, right? The ice cream mooncakes are usually square or round in shape. The crust is made from dark or white chocolate and the fillings can be an ice cream flavour of your choice. It also consists of egg yolk and is popular among youths.

Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Mooncakes open yolk (Cre: Häagen-Dazs)

***Tip: Buying a box will be cheaper! Have a wonderful evening tasting mooncakes with friends or family with cups of hot tea!!!

What are your favourite flavours?

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Study in Australia: Amy Sumin Wong

Written by Your Story

Have you ever heard the word “Ubuntu”?

According to Amy Sumin Wong, it is an ancient African word that means “I am, because you are” and highlights the interconnectedness of everyone and everything. As an only child, Amy can be quite independent and used to be doing things by myself. But this word reminds her that she is a part of a bigger picture and that no matter what country, background, status, job or anything.

We are all in this together and have profound effects on one another whether it is indirect or not. Amy also relates this to charity work. “As sometimes we can care so much about Australia and forget the issues of the rest of the world. But we are ultimately one humanity! It is not us versus them, but us AND them!”, Amy said.

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“Hi, I am Amy Sumin Wong, a World Vision Youth Ambassador and Committee Member of MASSA (Malaysian and Singaporean Society Association) at UTS. I am from New Zealand, but both of my parents are Malaysians. Hence, I did not need to learn a new language and the culture is more similar than moving to, for instance, China! I am recently on a gap year and thinking of continuing Engineering combined with Creative Intelligence and Innovation at UTS next year”.

In 2012, I came to Australia to complete my high school and it definitely was a massive change for me and a pivotal moment in my life. I was incredibly homesick for 2 years as everyone who knows me well knows that I am an extremely patriotic kiwi! Apart from that, I love how Australian universities rank so highly in the world and especially how UTS have access to such great resources and facilities! It is such a blessing that this is one of the first countries have them and we often take for granted.


This first time really widened my experiences and view of the world. It made me a lot more aware of different issues, cultures, worldviews and lifestyles! I love how diverse and multicultural it is in Australia, since it was less so back in Auckland. Although starting high school was definitely a challenge as I felt as the whole environment was quite different. I came from a high school where most people were quite nerdy in the fact that we all cared about doing well in our studies. However, my high-school in Australia was much more casual about it. Also, it was interesting trying to feel like I “belonged” in a place that was so different and foreign in culture to me.

Besides studying, I have part-time worked at Boost Juice and Nadia’s Café. These taught me efficiency, team-work and customer service skills that can be applied to all areas of life! I am currently a World Vision Youth Ambassador which is absolutely amazing. This is where I learnt public speaking skills, social media awareness skills, fundraising skills, networking skills and much more! All of these skills will be absolutely valuable in the workplace.


What is the best experience have you had in university?

I am a Committee Member on the MASSA group which is for Malaysian and Singaporean students! We host events such as parties, eating social gatherings and Malaysian-movie-nights and so on! It is super fun and I am so glad to be a part of such a great community within UTS. I highly suggest you all, newies or odies in a university, to join a group such as MASSA and get connected and involved in student societies and voluntary programs! This will be one of the best times of your life! And I have no regrets since I started university life.


What do you do to reduce stress or enjoy studying?

I need a clean room and space for studying! Also, I make sure I go out with friends and live a balanced life because that helps me to focus more when it comes to actual “study time”.

If you could give an advice for international students what would it be?

Right now, you might feel like you don’t belong or that Australia is not home. But Sydney is actually incredibly multi-cultural and welcoming of different cultures! Find a community of friends or society that you can plug into. There are so many amazing opportunities here, so get involved and the sky is the limit! I am from New Zealand and never thought I could be an ambassador for Sydney.


What would you say to inspire international students to get better in the future?
I would say: “Find something that makes you passionate and run with it! Keep a positive can-do attitude and don’t be afraid of failure! Be the best you that you can be!”

If I can do it, so can you!”

– Amy Wong

Photo credit: Amy Sumin Wong

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Study in Australia: Nurafiqah Adabiah binti Yusof

Written by Your Story

“What’s life without a bit of a challenge!”

Agree?! Let’s meet Nurafiqah Adabiah binti Yusof, a Malaysian teenage girl who soon to be 18, and see how is a life of a teenager studying in Australia.


Cre: VOIS Magazine

I am currently living in Sydney and just finished a diploma in accounting at TAFE. I was residing in Saudi Arabia with my family and did high school there. Choosing Australia to study mainly because I have always wanted to go to this country, where the accent is unique, nature is beautifully filled with beaches and parks. It is also close to Malaysia and a little bit cheaper than universities in America. Plus, I have a friend who is studying in Sydney so my parents thought “Why not? At least I will have a friend.” I came to Australia last year in August. In the beginning, I had a little issue of making friends, but as class started, I managed to make a couple of friends. I also had a few difficulties with public transport because I have never had to use it before.

Apart from a few difficulties with public transport because I have never had to use it before, moving to Australia has not changed much about me. This is because I have been overseas basically my whole life. I do feel incredibly humbled to be able to study abroad and meet people from various cultures and backgrounds. It enriches my understanding of the world and helps me learn ways to coexist. One of the best things about Australia is that I think Aussie accent is distinctive and lovely, but I still have an American-ish accent.

IMG_1148Although I have a close friend in Sydney, sadly we do not usually meet. This is because I am underaged, and I have to stay in a homestay. There are rumours of how terrible homestay life is, according to many international teenagers. However, the woman I am staying with is such a pleasure to be around. She comes from Greek, is a widow and her children are both married and have their kids now. She cooks great food and always makes me feel welcome at home, especially when she has some friends coming over. My host is pretty chill if you just follow the rules and do not be rude.


“Be open to various opportunities and don’t be afraid to take small (or big) steps out of your comfort zones to improve yourself. It is all about learning and enjoying the process.”

A challenge I faced when I first started TAFE was trying to understand what is being taught in class. I had never done Accounting before, and I was afraid that it would be a boring subject. Though it may be challenging at times, Accounting is a versatile field, and every industry will need an accountant. It was not bad after all.


I was lucky to have a reference point for when things in the class did not make any sense to me, and it was a friend of my mum’s who teaches Accounting in the University. I asked her for help with some homework assignments. Also, I had a study group with a few people from my class. It was great to collaborate on questions and learn things from each other.

To reduce stress, I watch some TV shows or a movie. Also, I might go out with friends over the weekend and enjoy what Sydney has to offer, and sometimes I record those adventures too. I also love photography, and for my photography, you can find it on my blog at nrfqhysf.wordpress.com.


My objective is to make something of myself to support my passions and goals. Short term goals would be to survive the first year of university and to enjoy it at the same time. I plan to go to higher education after TAFE. It may be an Accounting degree at University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). I choose Accounting basically due to its versatile, and every industry needs one although it will be hard for me. However, hey, what’s life without a bit of a challenge!

I have not figured out the specifics of my long term goals yet, but right now it is probably just to get a job and settle down here.


The first step is to make myself open to different opportunities and taking baby steps out of my comfort zones. If I had not stepped out of my comfort zone, I would not have gotten the internship position at VOIS Magazine! So I am glad that worked out. I sent my resume to VOIS after I saw an ad in the MASSA group that Thi posted and a few days after, I went for an interview. Then a few more days after, I was accepted as an intern. At the moment, I am an intern but probably soon become a writer.

If you could give advice for international students what would it be?

“You will always be able to find home away from home if you let yourself.”

What would you say to inspire international students to get better in the future?

“Everyone has got their way of studying so it is important for you to figure yours out so that you can always try your best at school. Understand what works for you and roll with it.”


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“No Compensation For Thousands of International Students”: The Airlines Ticket Scam

Written by News

Earlier this year, January 2016, in a letter sent to the NSW Police, more than 300 international students around Sydney and Melbourne had been cheated when buying airline tickets via Facebook ‘Vi Tran’. However, last week the culprit has been caught and convicted.


This woman, who went by the name Vi Tran, was convicted of 313 counts of fraud, misappropriation of up to 466 000 AUD and has received 18 months of Intensive Correction Order. Detective Nolan Bennett, from Sydney Property Investigation Team of the NSW Police, explained this punishment as a detention at home. It includes 32 hours contributing to community service per month. This can be a considered as alternative constraints (detailed at the State Parole Authority Justice pages of NSW).


Victims unable to claim money back

Unfortunately, although My Truc Le was ordered to refund the damage to the victims, the highest amount that the local court could obtain was $100 thousand dollars ($100.000 AUD).

According to Detective Nolan, it may not be possible that the victims will receive any compensation.


Because, even if the Court ordered (compensation), but if the defendant can not pay, then it just turned into a command debt…Despite knowing that it will cause frustration for you (the victim), but the police we can not do anything to help you get back the money.” – Detective Nolan stated in the letter that was sent to the victims.

The account under MY TRUC LE name

The account under MY TRUC LE’s name

When the case became widespread on the news earlier this year, My Truc Le’s family in Vietnam had promised to refund money to the victims. However, there has been no sign of this compensation.

giphy (14)

Detective Bennett Nolan also added that, if they want to pursue it to the end, they must follow it as individuals. However, he also reiterated, if the defendant does not have money, then things will be difficult.

In April 2016, when the case was first heard, SBS News held an interview with Toan Nguyen, a lawyer. His answer as to whether the victims will receive compensation was that it would be unpredictable.

Due to my experience, the chance to be compensated at 100% is rare. Also, there may be no authority or organisation for compensation.

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Except for those people who have purchased any travel insurance, they are possibly claiming money from their insurance depending on the insurance policies of those who bought airline tickets.“- said by lawyer Toan.

To those who wished to to pursue and reclaim their lost money, individuals are advised to contact a lawyer or visit the Access Law Section: Does someone owe you money?

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5 cheap snacks for a healthy body

Written by Health

Besides doing cardio exercises for losing belly fat, providing a reasonable amount of food will help your workout become more effectively. Many of us love snacks and fast food, but due to the consultation from multiple sources, the experts suggest the top 5 common food that can become our daily snack which supply energy without causing the excess grease preventive:

1 / Almonds:

Almonds contain protein, fiber, and vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. It also contains magnesium, a mineral that is vital for the production of energy, build and maintain muscle tissue and regulates blood sugar. Always keeping some almonds in bags will highly replenish energy and restrain the hunger.


2 / Bananas:

Bananas contain a high amount in potassium, a substance that helps limit the amount of sodium in our body. Eating a banana every day to reduce swelling and cramps effectively, especially avoid abdominal fat accumulation.


3 / Soybeans:

Soybeans contain enough protein, fibre and antioxidants. The foods containing soybeans easily carried away include tofu (would recommend cooked as soup rather than fried) and milk.


4 / Apples:

A big apple contains fibre and 85% water, to help you quickly feel full. Eating one or two apple to not worry about the junk food cravings.


5/ Dark chocolate 70% (or 80% or 90%):

Dark chocolate which contains more than 70% cocoa containing compounds protect against heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. My favorite brand is Lindt – Dark Chocolate 90%!



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‪#‎YOUthCANLEAD Youth Leadership Conference

Written by Editor’s Picks, News

Sydney was raining cats and dogs over the first weekend of June 2016, but it was extremely heated at the ‪#‎YOUthCANLEAD Youth Leadership Conference, organized by City of Sydney and ISLA. It was a fantastic full day event with leadership activities, honored guest panel and, last but not least, the mind-blowing Human Sound Project. I was kindly invited by VOIS Magazine to experience the Youth Leadership Conference and learn what it means to be a great leader.

youth leadership photo 2

The speakers shared their experiences as successful young adults. They said, among other pieces of wisdom, that a leader must be able to listen to people. Participating in group games also fostered thoughts about myself: “What are your capabilities?”, “What sort of leader do you want to be?” and “How can you optimize yourself to lead better?” It was a game in which we had to raise our creative visions to think of ideas that could help develop the community.


The Human Sound Project‎ was the most spectacular finale. The lyrics were composed by words related to leadership that each group had brainstormed during the day. By singing and moving, we released our internal power and were unified by our motivation to lead.


At first, we had no clue how the program worked. However, after following the instructions, everyone was surprised at the amazing audio their performance created. If anyone attended VIVID on the 10th of June, VIVID: The Human Sound Project – Interactive Song Making Experiences will give you an idea of how the project was run by such a large group.

youth leadership photo 1

This was the first ever conference I have joined, and it was an impressive introduction. Despite the severe weather, ISLA remained professional and organized, even providing a hotline phone number in case there were any issues. I met old friends and made new ones, networked and took photos to save the moments. It was a great break after a hectic week of assignments and a heavy workload.


As I sat in the heart of Sydney, among more than a hundred students from nationalities such as America, African and Japanese, it reminded me of the reason I chose Australia to study – multi-culture. I realized that this event was also successful in teaching me one last lesson: that leadership was also about connecting people with different personalities together.


I would send a heartwarming thank you to the City of Sydney for creating such an enjoyable experience. It has helped young people have more faith in themselves, widen their knowledge and network and start to be successful leaders of the future. I am looking forward to more events from the City of Sydney or ISLA as equally as extraordinary as this one.

YOUth can lead!

Photo credit: VOIS M and ISLA 

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6 Best Spots in Sydney to explore

Written by Student Life

Need a new place for your next profile pic or running out of photo ideas? Here are five Sydney spots to satisfy your artistic side.

Spice Alley

Recently, this is one of the most popular check-in places and photos of young people living or visiting Sydney!


Spice Alley is a new downtown of a new lifestyle and dining culture on Kensington Street. It is locate in the heart of Sydney CBD, designed by Greencliff. It is filled with delicious and beautiful dishes as well as artistic internal designs. Comprised of interlacing streets inhabited by local modernisers, Chippendale is home to creative businesses, cafes, bars, restaurants and galleries, such as Spice Alley and the Kopi-Tiam, Mekong, KYO-TO, Bar Chinois, Glider KS, KOI Bar Dessert, aMBUSH Gallery, Kensington Contemporary, Spot 81, Galerie pompom, MOP Projects and White Rabbit Gallery. This is a great place welcoming curious visitors, rendezvous with old friends, meeting up with new ones or artists looking for inspiration.

Ash Street

Ash Street Laneway and see a Europe in Sydney. It is one of the most enlighted side streets in Sydney, the little strip of 19th-century buildings is riddled with bars and restaurants. Traveling to Paris and slowly tasting a drink at Ash Street Cellar

Ash St. Cellar (Cre: Merivale)

…or enjoy a classy lunch at Felix Bistro. A casual stroll down this alley will easily turn into a longer stay.

Felix Bistro (Cre: Merivale)

Angel Place

Right around the corner of Ash Street is the attractive Angel Place laneway – an exit from city life and an entrance to Romanesque architecture. The path is a cozy vintage walk with a slice of postmodern street art; all you have to do is look up to see 120 birdcages hanging from the sky, and capture some photos with whatever you have on hand.

Forgetten Songs (Cre: Ted Szukalski Digital Photo Gallery)

Those birdcages are the work of artist Michael Thomas Hill, which used to be an homage to the many species of birds living in the area before urbanization. You can also hear some birdsongs played on nearby speakers and enjoy thoughtful works of art appropriately named “Forgotten Songs.”

Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

Photographers who are looking for one of the best spots for a million likes with hashtag #sydney or #travel  need to put this place on their checklist now! Rob Potter generously scored this spot 10/10 as an ideal location for landscape and portrait photography with a “unique and very Australian backdrop”.

Cre: Rob Potter

How to get there? Enjoy a walk from the Sydney Opera House, through Botanic Gardens or by public transport from Circular Quay Station. If you are traveling by personal vehicles, there is meter parking on Mrs. Macquarie’s Road.

Best time for a shot? Rob Potter suggested the best photos taken from Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair is sunset when the sun is going down behind the Sydney Opera House. However due to the iconic view of both the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge being so close to each other, this photography location will offer you great photo opportunities all day long.

 The Rocks

The Rocks is an authentic visit place in Sydney. It is one of the premium photography locations for photographers to explore and capture amazing photos of this city.

There are a lot of little cobblestone streets and alleyways in The Rocks. The largest and most frequented is Playfair Street, where The Rocks Markets are held every weekend. However, another one worth visiting is Nurse’s Walk, which is a pathway through Harrington Street and George Street.

Cre: Rob Potter

You can take stunning photos at Dawes Point Park at any time but according to many experienced photographers, the best time to photograph this place is predawn or just after sunset.

Cre: Rob Potter

As you can see from these photos, Dawes Point Park allows you to get up close and personal with the Sydney Harbour Bridge on one side, while another walk away path allows you to photograph across the water and capture the Sydney Opera House.

Farm Cove

This is a beautiful small bay right in the middle of the Botanical Garden. Come over in the early morning and just after sunrise you will have the sun shining straight on the Sydney CBD. Use the walking path as lead-in lines to your main subject, the city.

Cre: Mel365.com

From Farm Cove, you can take unique photos with the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge right behind.

Besides, Vivid Sydney is happening and those places may be lighted up at night. Are you excited enough? Set up your cameras and phones, be ready to capture Sydney!

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Study In Australia: Dann Nguyen

Written by Your Story

Meet The An Huy Nguyen, otherwise known as Dann Nguyen. He is a Vietnamese international student, the main singer of “The Calligraphers” band and an adviser of VIET Youth Australia. Here’s what he had to say about his experiences:

Why did you choose Australia? 

Choosing a place oversea to follow your dream is hard, but I am always eager to learn about Western cultures, new knowledge and techniques in a course related to music industry. Apart from looking for a high-quality school/institution, you will have to see if the place you are going to is safe and saving enough or not. After taking ages to conduct my personal research, I decided to go to Australia instead of the America because:

1/ Australia is a safe country.
2/ I can work part-time legally.

So I landed in Australia and well, this is an “open-minded society”. I mean it because it is where people do not care about your appearances, abilities and the way you behaves, as well as there is no gossip and creating a network for business is easier.

“You are not a tree to stay in a place” 


Tell us a bit about your academic experiences:

I finished high school back in Vietnam and right after that moved to Australia with my passion for acoustic music in February 2015. Since I was under 18 years old at the time, I started with a Foundation program in UTS: Insearch, and graduated with quite a high grade. Honestly, I found Foundation very easy. Future students not to be apprehensive about it. Some tips to survive:

  • You just need to work very carefully and notice the details about English —> It is ALL about English!
  • Try to be financially stable! —> Learn to cook, home-cooked food is good and cheaper!
  • Take more risks and be open!
  • Do not skip many classes

After the Foundation program, I then took one semester of ‘Bachelor of Sound and Music Design’ in the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), skipping all the core subjects and theory classes because I was so excited to learn about what I could do. However, I felt as though I needed a more hands-on experience and so transferred to SAE Institute, majoring in Audio Engineering to save time and money on the way to reaching my dream.

“Do not care about haters. Because you have your values”


How would you describe yourself?

I am a bold, daring, optimistic and confident person! I am not afraid of taking risks and doing what I am keen on. I defined it as my pros and cons, as it helped me to ignore public opinion and focus on myself and what I love. However, it also makes myself become quite a bit hurry and hasty when handling problems that I always think it has nothing to worry about.

I have an endless love with acoustic music and guitar. And my dream is to be able to create an acoustic guitar brand. Therefore, I chose to study the “Bachelor of Sound and Music Design” at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). This subject and major are pretty hard to find in Vietnam, so with a passion for acoustic music and guitar, I came to Australia, enroled in the top university in this major to pursue my ultimate goal of my life.

Remember: “You are you! Do not be fake!”


You mentioned that you were in a band, how did your passion for music start?

Since I was in high school, I joined many music clubs, set up Phu Nhuan Acoustic Club. I also recently won first place in “VIET Youth Has Talents 2015” with my band “The Calligraphers”. After I came to Sydney, I also joined all Vietnamese student music events such as “VDS Gala” and “VietYouth got talents” (I call it ‘enthusiasm’), and am currently an adviser for the organisation of “Viet Youth Australia”. I also still keep in touch with my team in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) despite the distance and different time zones. I mainly write their training contents with the knowledge I gained from reading books or by asking famous international Vietnamese students, and create useful projects for the students about things such as the ‘Mindset’ and being an ‘Entrepreneur’.


What is some advice you can give to other international students?

“Do not wait for an opportunity. Find it or create it yourself.” I like this quote because it can be applied to anyone, in any situation and think it is especially inspirational to artists. Although I love Vietnam, I still wanted to leave and find an opportunity to bring new air to my homeland’s music industry. I love my country’s music and desire to do something new, to proofread the acoustic music. The music industry in Australia is all filled up; even Westerners cannot get a job. In Vietnam, the music taste of young people is westernised.

At the moment, I am having a three-month holiday before the new semester starts at SAE. I took a chance during this long holiday to come back Vietnam and prepare for my treasured event as a director of “Ngan Ngo – The Concert”. This concert, in the form of musical theatre, is to orient new thinking about arts to young people and enhance their knowledge of humanities. All music clubs from every high school in Ho Chi Minh City will be able to contribute to this enormous project and perform at Hoa Binh Theatre which can fit up to 2000 people.

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“There are 7 billion people so why don’t you be confident?

It is not about who you are; it is about you.

Because you are different!”

– Dann Nguyen

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Study in Australia: Laura Liu

Written by Your Story

Travelling from Shanghai (China) to Adelaide and then Sydney 6 years ago, Laura Liu – a Chinese girl has become a more and more active international student. When Laura arrived at Australia in 2009, she held an IELTS certificate scored 6.5. She did take it again and got overall band 7.5 by reading and listening to Australian news: “I suggest ABC News 24”, Laura said.


1. Foundation lesson: “Talk to people! Don’t be shy!”

Laura began learning English since she was about very young but her very first problem studying in Australia is eastern culture studying. She took a Foundation degree in Adelaide transaction period. Here is where she improved her language skills the most by talking with local people living in the area. They are super duper friendly and interested in talking with international students since there were not a lot of international students at that time. The course taught her ‘critical thinking’ and break the eastern culture barrier in studying: keep asking questions.

2. Bigger city – Bigger opportunity

Laura was born and growing in Shanghai, the capital of China, which is a very large, active and developing city. She acknowledged the opportunities a big city can bring out due to the comparison between Shanghai and other cities in China. Therefore, Laura decided to move to Sydney for an undergraduate degree. From 2011 to 2014, she did a Bachelor of Communication (majoring Public Relations) at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). Despite the challenges this major towards international student in terms of language disadvantages, Laura was so eager to learn and here are her philosophies:

  1. Passionate with communicating to people and helping to solve the problems
  2. Communication is very practical: in everything, you have to communicate to transfer information or requests, to persuade, trade and achieve the goals.
  3. It is very rewarding in the third year of this degree in UTS: you will be received offers of internship via emails, UTS Online forum or UTS Career Hub –> You should subscribe to these media platforms and update the information regularly to get an appropriate internship.


Taking a chance, Laura applied for an internship position at the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet. She successfully got the position and after a month working, the organisation signed a contract with her for an official paid position. Since then, Laura was working with them for half a year and then stopped when she had to pursue her master degree.

Even so, Laura gained a lot of experience due to ‘big’ chance she found in Sydney through ‘big’ events from ‘big’ organisations located in Sydney.

During 2014, Australia held the G20 Summit and managed a series of government visits. Laura was the only mandarin speaking project assistant from DPC and she arranged numerous translations between the Chinese media representatives. She also assisted in translating English and interpreted their words through face-to-face communication.

Laura was invited to manage international and national media groups when the President of China arrived in Sydney using her bilingual skills, collecting foreign media’s feedback on the day and acted as a bridge between the state government and Chinese media. After the event, she approached Chinese media and collected their feedback and comments. Laura was also responsible for translating written Mandarin news stories into English and these have contributed to the State government’s database. As a result of her support work, the 2014 Leaders Forum in Sydney achieved worldwide media coverage and the Chinese delegation team was deeply impressed by the host city Sydney.


Laura also assisted by creating major time grids for the International Leaders’ activities within Sydney. They were instrumental in managing and allocating staff to manage specific events for each other. During the G20, she put five-time schedules for different international leaders into an integrated time chart. Since a lot of the activities were happening on the same day, she had to use her coordination skills to make sure schedules would not clash. She successfully merged them together and provided the team with a core file to work with. Her strong attention to detail and multicultural background has positively contributed to the success of hosting high profile events such as Australia-China State/ Provincial Leaders Forum in Sydney.

Prior to the arrival of the President of China, Laura attended preparation meetings with the Chief Management Staff at the host venue and made critical suggestions on the design of the venue to incorporate a pleasing cultural perspective. The level of detail was much appreciated.

3. “I wish I did…”

Laura did regret not to put all efforts in studying some skills that she thought it was so basic. You may be ‘good’ at computer skills such as Microsoft Words, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoints, etc. but the company will require they are professional. Sometimes, ‘good’ is not enough, and its term is true in most of the situations. Plus, if you are keen on working in Public Relations’ industry, learning how to use social media to administrate or manage the posts will be a strength and highlight point to put in a resume and appreciated by hirers.

And yes, she really meant it when she said: “I wished that I learned or used those tools before so it wouldn’t take more time to learn about them”.

So, here is a quite important reminder for Communication students!


4.  A Proactive attitude

One of the most significant achievement of Laura for a whole time studying in Australia is her attitude: from a shy person and usually felt left over because sometimes she is the only international student in the class, Laura becomes more active and approaching. This attitude brought her positive Master of Management at the University of Sydney.

To those who are thinking of doing Master of Management, let’s also thinking of 3 key ideas Laura took from this degree and decide whether to take it or not:

  1. Global society: it is people that drive this world around
  2. Communication does matter: a rapid way to approach a conversation to get what you want –> Practical skills needed in every organisation.
  3. Apply networking: talk to your teachers/tutors/professors regularly to share your personal goals, ask for their advice/references/networking –> job offers, opportunities.

5. An intergration between working and studying

  • Culture:
    • how to talk and communicate with colleagues = experienced people, clients
    • working as a team
  • Attitude: obstacles to phone someone and listen to harsh words if they are not in the mood or have a tired day.
  • Adaption: need to start changing yourself to adapt to new environment and be resilient


6. Earn experience and find a solution

Now: volunteer for NGO: Social Enterprise

  1. support the Human Sound Project: Business Development Plan –> interested in connecting people through sound
  2. collaborative experience
  3. volunteer = she saw the value of this project and was willing to help –> she contacted to the director of this organisation and asked to join the project.

Message: “Enjoy the fun”. Earn experience and find a solution.


 “Success is not just about what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you inspire others to do”.



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