International student Preeti's story - My journey of studying in Australia
We, international students have 1000s of questions and doubts while making the decision to study overseas. The chapters showcase my reflections and challenges during my experience studying in Australia. Furthermore, I will tell you how living in a regional area has changed my mindset of countryside life!
When Dreams Come True
Right from my childhood, I dreamt of studying abroad but due to lack of knowledge and financial constraints, I could never express my dream to my parents. However, I never gave up my dream and it was on one such day, over the cup of coffee with my husband and in-laws, I expressed my interest of taking my career to a next level by upgrading my educational qualifications and without a second thought, they all said, “Go for it” we all are with you! These simple words from my family changed my life for good. It felt as if I got the wings and now I just need to get closer to my dream.
The moment I landed in Australia brought an impeccable smile on my face and I told myself I will never give up on my passion.
The Beginning of the New Chapter
I started my educational journey at La Trobe University in Master of Education and Leadership with the aim of learning skills on curriculum design and the progressive methodology of teaching and learning. The education system is different in Australia as compared to India, and I took this as a challenge to practice my critical thinking skills. Getting back to Uni after 13 long years was a bit overwhelming for me initially but my determination to adapt kept me going. My husband and 4 Year old daughter were my biggest strength in the midst of changes that I was experiencing. Slowly and gradually, I started understanding the education system and stepped outside for my first job at the Laundromat.
My first day at work in Australia made me ponder many questions such as will I be able to make it as I have no experience in this kind of work? Will I be able to respond to customer queries given I struggled at first to understand the Aussie accent? But as the saying goes, where there is a will, there is a way and with my open mind I started to look for my way to understand the work culture in Australia. Initially when I started my interaction with the locals, the only thing I could understand was NO WORRIES... (HAHA) and I used to think will I ever be able to understand the slangs and the accents of the locals?
But as time passed, I started communicating more with people and feeling comfortable in sharing my views and ideas. This helped me gain confidence as well as mingle in the Australian culture.
The Turning Point in my life
I engaged myself into volunteering activities and I became a mentor for non English speaking students organised by AMES Australia. The purpose of the program was to help immigrants and refugees understand the basics of English Language. This experience triggered my traits of helping others and it prompted me to think about studying Masters in Social work.
The turning point of my life occurred when I first took the guidance from an educational counsellor at IDP Melbourne. Amrita Chauhan was the counsellor appointed to handle my case at IDP. She not only provided me with the best possible options but also helped me to understand the entire process. When I first met her, I had heaps of questions in my mind as to what will be the impact of changing the course or university on my current visa? Will it create any problem in the future if I wish to apply for my post study work visa and how am I going to extend my visa for my new course and will I be granted an extension or are there any chances for the visa refusal?
My IDP counsellor was kind and patient enough to answer all my queries and helped me choose the course in Social Work after knowing about my interests / goals. She provided me all the relevant information, its English language requirements, its assessment authority and its future relevance to my career and it was at that time I took a sigh of relief and told myself, “Preeti, you are finally in good hands, trust her and go ahead with the change that you have been always keen to explore.”
The memories are still so fresh in my mind as I rightly remember that IDP applied for Master of Social Work at Federation University on December 9, 2016 and I received the offer letter on December 15, 2016. I could not believe that the entire process could be so fast and it is on this day today, 17 March 2019 that I proudly say that I am a qualified Social Worker.
Having done my placements in Mental Health and Community developments has not only helped me grow as a person but has changed my entire vision to view life and what is the role of social workers in bringing a positive change in the life of vulnerable people. I feel that by completing my course, I have given myself a chance to reflect on my views and opinions independently.
Therefore, I believe that one expert advice to the international students can change their entire outlook on how to proceed forward on their educational journey in this LA LA Land.
Life In Regional Australia
As I started my course at Federation University, Ballarat Campus I decided to move from the hustle bustle of city life and look for a peaceful life at the country side. I moved to Ballan, a small town near Ballarat with only 3000 people in the town. The serenity of the place made me fall in love with it as soon as I moved there. I still reside in Ballan with my husband and 7 year old daughter and regard my decision of experiencing a country life as the most beautiful part been in Australia.