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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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  • 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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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” 

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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”

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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!”

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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’.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

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

 

 

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Study in Australia: Thomson Ch’ng

Written by Student Life, Your Story

Come to Australia in 2009. Bachelor of Commerce (major in Finance and Management) at Curtin University Sydney (2009 – 2011). Master of Project Management at Curtin University Sydney (2013-2015). Project Management is imperative and essential skills. One of his favorites quotes: “Be part of the Change you wish to see in the world. Believe in making a difference in the community.”

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Thomson is one of the founding delegates and immediate Former President of Council of International Students Australia (CISA). He is a strong believer in “Creativity, Imagination, Savy and Achievement (CISA)”, taking “Why Not” as a motto with strong determination yet enjoy meeting new friends and establishing life long friendship.

It is predictable that with a strong slogan, Thomson became the Vice-President of ASEAN Youth Organisation period 2016 to 2018. Keep on reading further for the story of Thomson’s pathway to get this position through his inspiring words to everyone.

Life journey: Why Australia?

Have a Family’s friend, the area you have a connection, make you feel easier from your home country. Tend to salute and inspire friends who came to Australia without family.

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An impressive fact about Thomson is that he can speak FLUENTLY 5 LANGUAGES: English · Mandarin Chinese · Malay · Hokkien · Cantonese · Hainanese. Also, English is the third language.

He confided, on the first days he arrived in Australia, he could not totally get what the tutors said because of their strong Aussie accent. Right after that, as soon as possible, he began improving his English skills by practicing and listening to a lot. He started to involve literally and communicate with local people surrounding and Thomson took years to get who he is now.

Experienced in learning a language and acknowledge its tough, Thomson is very passionate about giving back to the community via knowledge and skills learned via study abroad journey.

* To anyone who is striving to master their language:

“Do feel free to “Drop In, Pop In and Say Hi”!”

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There’s no shortcut to any success. Studying a language is an on-going thing.
What important is creating a habit. Nobody said creating a habit is easy. Metaphor as to learn how to ride a bike: the first few step takes much energy, by the time the bike starts moving, there is where the momentum has begun and it no longer requires the similar amount of energy compared to the first few steps.

Let’s start to do it every day: subscribe newspaper and started reading early morning while having breakfast and know what’s happens in Aus, mainstream, SMH, Telegraphs,… hard to network with people when come to an event have a topic to discuss about, read and practice from times to times.
Thomson’s aspiration is to become a politician or diplomat at the same time which gives him a tool to help more people and create changes.11008070_10205291427819481_3214111792837263802_n

* To everyone start building your success:

Plan everything at the beginning
You need to be inspired and empowered. Look up in the future, let’s do it in a team, a group, to support.
A lot of international students are a lack of supports from universities and community in general Join International students societies and feel free to share your problems to receive advice and helps in advance.

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No part-time job!

Thomson found himself too hard to get many things done at the same time. So he chose to focus on the key things: studying and master the skills he thinks that are the most necessary ones. Here are some words from a project management student to anyone looking for the key to being good in time-management:

If you think you can combine to do many things at the same time very well, feel confident to do it.
If not, let’s spend more time in your target and less time in other things. Make it perfect, exquisite. Acknowledging yourself, strongly focusing on one thing and practice as much as you can, you will get what you want in the meantime.

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To many people, communication skill is the most important, and with Thomson, this philosophy is more crystal than ever. To him, one of the best thing to being an international student in Australia is: have friends from different countries in the world!

Here is a True story: Thomson has been travelling with his family to many places around Asian’s countries, from Vietnam to Thailand and so on, and he enjoyed it because he always has friends whom he has met in Australia hosted him and his family around when they were in their country. Imagine you travel with a local or guided by a local will be much easier and safer, is it?

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* Last but not least, to every single one who is still studying:

  • Let’s make mistakes and do not be afraid of MAKING MISTAKES! Making mistakes as much as you can before you leave school because you will learn a lesson from your mistakes, FOR FREE! This is the best time to make mistakes, after that, ever mistakes are risky and counts your success.
  • Do not be afraid of REJECTION. This is what you will learn: the more you are rejected, the more you understand things better and the pros and cons; since then you will be very high-confident (but not over-confident) because you understand yourself and what you can do Tips from Thomson:
  • If you are high-confident, you might not be successful soon, but if you are NOT confident, you will definitely never going to be successful anytime.
    Be humble, be open-minded.

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Study in Australia: Serena Dong

Written by Your Story

Serena Dong is currently a writer in VOIS Magazine as an editorial intern. This amazing girl is taking a Bachelor of Communications and Journalism at University of New South Wales in Sydney. She described her identity as “mixed”, different from what most people would call themselves. She concluded: “I can not identify myself with one specific place because I don’t have just one home”.

Serena was born in China but studied primary school in New Zealand for 4 years before moving back to China to study at an American Private school, absorbing a mixture of American and British culture. Now, she is here in Australia for her bachelor degree since February 2015. As a result of her background, she can speak Chinese and English fluently.

Although Serena enjoyed her years in New Zealand and China, she craved for a new environment to establish a vibrant university life. Upon a trip to Australia in September 2014, Serena fell in love with the people and most importantly, the University of New South Wales. After living in different countries for so many years, Serena freely shares her perspectives on the differences between China and New Zealand:

  • New Zealand is so clean that you can walk on bare feet and the people living here are well-mannered
  • China is not clean and you will have to wear shoes, the people are pretty rude (e.g: aggressive drivers go forwards at the same time).

Overall, Serena she loves the life she has now in Australia with her new friends and of course, her boyfriend.

How has studying overseas changed yourself?

In Australia, Serena started to live all by herself for the first time without her family. It is hard, but it has taught her how to get used to things, learn skills to explore many places and to be independent. Many first times such as cooking, washing the dishes, dealing with bad manners and problems, contacting for help when something in the house needs to be fixed.

And, unexpectedly, studying in Australia is a lot harder than Serena thought. It is due to her high academic success in primary school in New Zealand that she believed in would be similar the university. However, failing her first uni assignment at UNSW woke her up to become more motivated and focused. Serena’s thinking changed eventually. She knows that she has to try harder due to the advantages of receiving financial support. In short, Serena took every opportunity that she came across.

Talking inspiringly about Journalism

  • If you are starting to hate this major, remember that practice will make it better
  • Write with passion because writing is a way to express yourself
  • Being a part of the news industry helps you keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the world

If you are a UNSW student, why don’t you try to join Blitz magazine like Serena? It will help you to get to know more people even celebrities. Serena said that she had an awesome experience with Blitz where she was fortunate enough to interview and write articles of Jane Saville (Australian Olympian in race walking), Greg Behrendt (American comedian, actor, and writer). “You’ll love it,” said Serena. “It was pretty cool!”

Overcoming homesickness and choosing your way:

  • Make good friends with different backgrounds to go through hard times, to hang out and share cultures
  • Call parents whenever you feel like you need to.
  • Keep in touch with high school mates. They will give advice and be there for you.
  • A partner can comfort and mentally support you as well
  • Experience life – go for beaches (e.g: Bondi, Coogee), tasty cuisine, cool coffee shops, amusement parks, zoos, picnics and barbecues in the park.

What is your next step in the next few years?

“I do not want to be so sure about the future.”

Serena has plans to live in the moment right now, but also has plans to stay and work in Australia for a few years after graduating. She’s excited for the days when she add more countries to her list of travels which already include Hawaii, Las Vegas, Yellowstone National Park and various cities around China. America or London are other potential work destinations since the publication industry is well-developed there. Time management skills, film industry, and public relations knowledge are also other areas Serena intends to improve on in the future.

What is your new year’s resolution?

“Drink more water, be healthy. Get a job and save money. Work hard in university.”

What would you say to inspire international students?

“Do not be shy. Interact with locals. Branch out. Make new friends. Learn different cultures and languages.”

“Brace yourself before starting anything.”

– Serena Dong

 

 

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Study in Australia: Seema Vittal Serigara

Written by Your Story

Seema is an active girl who comes from United Arab Emirates (UAE). She arrived in Sydney to “learn hard and play as hard.” She came to Australia in 2009 and was doing a Bachelor of Digital Media, which has an excellent student service. Seema called herself a person of ‘celebration’.

She explained: “I like all kinds of celebrations such as birthdays, graduations and so on. Because I guess I just need any excuse to start a riot and party. But I strongly believe that’s how it should be.”

A balance between the good and bad, or else how boring would life be? What an interesting girl!

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Australia is economical for education, or not?

According to Seema, Australia seemed to be good for her financial situation. It also has a developed educational system and its credit recognition is highly regarded.

Talking about her degree, Seema said that she had no regrets. The Digital Media course was very practical and interesting.

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“I use what I learnt everyday at work now so I guess it was a good investment,” Seema expressed.

Seema did not hesitate to share her skills that she learnt from her course such as video editing, 3d animation and modelling, sound editing, photography, graphic design, branding, typography and history about filmography.

“If I am still in university, I would join this short film festival –“Film it and show it”

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Working in Australia is a different story

5 years living and studying in Australia has taught Seema to think independently, be humble and be a self-made person. By meeting a lot of friends from different backgrounds, Seema also learnt to respect people from different races, cultures and religions more.

However, as many international students have suffered, Seema could not avoid a huge culture shock, experiencing different time zones and homesickness. No matter what happened, UNSW had a positive impact on its student by launching an awesome student service and psychology service. Besides, Seema also had a strong support network and system of good people who were always ready to help her.

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“I learnt to work hard and party just as hard (and) meet amazing people from all walks of life”, Seema said.

After graduation, Seema has focused on getting her finances more stable and building up a brand name for herself in the working field.

However, she did not choose to work in Australia due to a seemingly horrible  job market. So she returned home to Dubai.

“I am working well now and am at a good place financially. I feel secured.” said Seema.

And so, she has become more professional and hard-working, sticking to plans. Seema will also love to improve her marketing background. But, of course, “There is no easy way to achieve your goals”, she said.

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Seema is also very keen on doing volunteering. Some activities she did were:

1. Donating hair to Locks of Love (i.e. to people who had custom wigs made due to loss of hair from chemotherapy for cancer)
2. Keep it clean co-recycling and cleaning up the local beaches
3. Giving baths to local cats and dogs at a shelter near her house
4. Recently joined the “Volunteer in UAE” community and their many programs. She recently attended the marathon for handicapped people and also a sign language program

Volunteering has taught Seema a lot, as she said: “All in all I learnt that there is so much more I can do. I know I am busy but one must try to always give back. I learnt to appreciate people more. Be more patient and humble.”

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

“I think I have mentioned this before but always work hard but also party just as hard. Your life should be a celebration of you and never assume anything about any body. You have to give respect to get some.”

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

Hard work, hard work and hard work. Also bubble baths help.

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Study in Australia: Anupriya Sharma

Written by Your Story

Coming from India, a hard-working woman and her husband chose Sydney to start their new journey. Here, Anupriya does her Master of Commerce in Finance at Macquarie University, while her husband has a part-time job. Despite the homesickness, Anupriya decided to keep herself busy with her university work (“I can’t live without studying PhD”), friends and travelling.

 

Childhood inspiration is always essential

Anupriya graduated from university back in India, completing an MBA in Accounting and Finance. Her father, who is a bank auditor, has always been her role model. As Anupriya loves learning, she started to save money, supported by her husband and parents, she came to Australia for a higher education about Finance.

Although it is hard, Anupriya’s determined quote is “Never give up!”, so she does not mind failing and starting again.

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What are the differences between studying in Australia and India?

It is more practical to study in Australia. This is very important and Anupriya was very satisfied  this quality. Students who did or are currently doing a PhD may know that self-studying is the most essential skill that they have to learn. According to Anupriya, her method is to divide the subjects into small sections so she can easily catch up on parts that she missed.

Homesickness, one of the most common yet undefeatable problems that international students face. However, joining international student groups will properly help you to overcome hard-time. As Anupriya confided that even though Australia is a multi-cultural country, you can still feel left out due to the distances of language and customs in a group of local people. In an international students’ group, everyone somehow has one similar thing – living far away from home. Despite different backgrounds, people speak the same language, English. This is a strong bond connecting people together to create friends.

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Part-time job and volunteer jobs are important for international students

Anupriya used to have a part-time job as a store team member at Coles. This is a great job opportunity which brought her extra amount to save. However, as she had to focus on studying more, she stopped working there.

On the other hand, Anupriya has a volunteer position at VOIS Magazine, writing advice for international students about studying and daily living. Even though it is volunteering, she loves this job as it not only helps reduce stress and homesickness, but writing has been her passion even when she was young. Since writing is done in her spare time, Anupriya is very keen on doing it, and can write a piece in 30 minutes when feeling inspired, such as The Hunger Games, the Light Festival or Job Searching.

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Beaches and wines, please!

Beautiful coasts like Avalon, Newport and Bondi…who can deny the warm sunshine, cool wind and good wines? Anupriya does not also love these things, but is also interested in getting a tattoo done. However, this will happen “once I save enough to get a tattoo from Bondi Ink”, Anupriya said.

Talking about this, she said that many people did not know that tattoos were one of the traditional customs in a few places in India (“not mine, remote villages though…I know this because of my Bachelors in Anthropology”, she said). The custom is commonly known as “Godna”.

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Last Xmas 2015, what did you do?

As Anupriya believes in Hinduism, she shares further her philosophy about Christmas and her religion: “Christmas is not our festival, but still, India being a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic (as per Preamble to the Constitution of India) we respect each religion and their culture, customs and festivals. We do have public holidays in India on Christmas…Supermarkets and shopping malls are decorated in same way as anywhere”.

Concerning Christmas, Anupriya said that she went for shopping on the next few days to buy gifts for her near and dear ones in Sydney, thus respecting and adapting to the Australian culture.

As Anupriya is also an international student, this wonderful Indian woman advises everyone of us to enjoy their time with friends, colleagues as it will never come back.

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“Money comes and goes but memories are cherished forever.”

– Anupriya Sharma

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Study in Australia: Hellen Indrawan Jie

Written by Editor’s Picks, Student Life, Your Story

Hellen is active and sociable Indonesian girl who has graduated from UTS with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, majoring in Journalism. She experienced her high school life in Singapore but decided to move to Australia for a university. In 2012, after Hellen finished high school, she moved to Australia for new experiences.

Being asked about her passion for Journalism, Hellen said she was inspired by her role model: Anderson Cooper. Talking about it, she told me that one time, she read a book written by him, where he documented his experience in war zones: “I got inspired, so I thought I would give it a go,” Hellen said.

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Journalism, according to Hellen, “was assignments-focused” so she did not really have to study regularly. Anyone who is interested in studying Journalism, especially in UTS, can take a look at Hellen’s shared information:

  • “UTS Journalism was interesting because they wanted me to have practical experiences.”
  • We were not taught to write properly but we were motivated to go out there and talk to people, find issues and write them”.
  • “I have heard from friends doing journalism in other universities, and they didn’t have much of this journalism experience outside.”
  • “UTS really motivated us to get our stories published, like building a portfolio. So your assignments became your portfolio!”

Hellen was interested in gaining practical experiences in the industry, so she focused more on internships and volunteering work. Most of her volunteer experiences were in the arts and event industries and she started doing them during her time at university.

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Once, Hellen volunteered for a Korean Film Festival as an usher. The program ran only for a month, but she was able to gain insight into event management. Her purpose was: “I would like to work as a journalist and communication skills are important.” And what she learned was precious: people skills and how to communicate efficiently.

Currently, Hellen is volunteering for an Indonesian tabloid, managing their social media, and is also a radio broadcaster for an Indonesian community radio.

What was your best experience at university?

“Joining the Indonesian students society!”, Hellen said. From there, she got to meet people from her country and undoubtedly, everyone would be very passionate to share the culture to UTS community.

So, if she had a chance to go back to university time, you might see a more active Hellen joining different clubs to meet different people and, of course, a more hard-working student.

What are the differences between study in Australia and Singapore?

“I became a lot more critical!” Hellen expressed. Since Singapore is similar to other Asian countries, all Hellen did was memorization. Whereas in Australia, in a Western-style classroom, she became a lot more critical and bravely shared her opinion: “When I have my own opinion, I would say it out loud,” Hellen said.

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Sometimes, everyone cannot avoid their hard times. At one point, Hellen felt like giving up on the major and swapping to something else. But, she kept reminding herself that at journalism was something she “has always wanted to do”. She held her head up and achieved her goal.

What are your new goals?

After graduated from UTS, Hellen has been looking for a full-time job and she hopes to be in the industry soon.

“I am very diligent looking for jobs and applying to all sorts of available ones.”

Interested in learning about consumer behavior, Hellen is thinking about taking a Master degree in Marketing. Hellen also revealed that she is taking social media courses related to media at the moment.

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

“Just take chances whenever you could.” – said Hellen

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

“Learn and gain as much experience as possible while you are here in Australia. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an internship and volunteer works or even jobs in retail.”

“Don’t give up.”

– Hellen Indrawan Jie

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