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How I was able to Study in Australia During a Pandemic: A Filipino Nurse's Journey

Denise Liban is currently taking a postgraduate degree in nursing at Monash University, one of the leading universities in Australia. IDP had the privilege of meeting Denise and she happily shared her journey to becoming an international student during a global pandemic.

Choosing nursing

Denise’s pursuit of an international education is grounded in her advocacy — serving humanity. After four years of studying in the University of Santo Tomas, she came to a realization:

“Dispensing care to mankind gave me a purpose in life. Every time I was able to help a patient, I gained this sense of fulfillment that no material thing can match.” 

This sense of purpose drove her to seek a nursing education that would familiarize her with global healthcare standards.

Choosing Australia and Monash University

When asked about the factors that influenced her choice of study destination, Denise shared that beyond having relatives in Australia, the nation’s cutting-edge education drew her in. Australia offers world class quality education, which she hopes will open doors for her both locally and globally, at a relatively affordable price. Her decision was also influenced by her belief that Australia is one of the safest and most welcoming places in the world for international students like herself.

In choosing an institution, Denise sought help from her aunt and her IDP Education Counselor. Her aunt told her to look for postgraduate degrees that would eventually lead to registration as a nurse in Australia. Her Counselor then directed her to consider Australia's Group of Eight universities. Denise decided that Monash University was the perfect fit, as it is one of the best nursing schools in Australia and the campus is close to where she would be residing.

Applying to study in Australia amidst a global pandemic

Moving to another country is always nerve wracking, with or without a pandemic. Denise credits IDP for her smooth application. 

“IDP guided me throughout the process.” 

She mentioned that all of the waiting process was particularly taxing, as the usual one-month visa approval period instead took five months due to the pandemic. During this time, she anxiously reflected on her decision and took care of her young son. Denise also talked about how she qualified for travel exemption in her vlog. She shared that to be eligible, you must be in your final two years of university, taking up a healthcare related course, and have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice. However, even with the additional paperwork and requirements, Denise was resolute that studying abroad was worth all of this.

Moving to Australia

The move itself was a seamless transition for Denise in all aspects. She has a solid support system in her aunt and uncle, with whom she resides. Australians have accepted her with open arms, and she observes that most of them are warm and welcoming; strangers have no problem greeting each other on the street. In terms of university life, she has been meeting her professors and peers through Zoom. She was also able to land a permanent job in healthcare two weeks after she observed self-quarantine.

When I asked if she has encountered any difficulties or culture shock, she says the only confusion she’s had so far is with Australian slang. 

“[For example], the word ‘arvo’ sounds really far from what it means, which is afternoon!”

Beyond the slang words, Denise enjoys the differences between the Philippines and Australia. As her degree only holds synchronous workshops twice a week, the flexibility is a welcome change from the Philippines’ five to six-day school week. Denise also developed her time management skills, as she juggles her job with Monash University’s pre-recorded lectures and workshops. Overall, the university’s holistic approach, which includes the opportunity to book meetings to discuss how the students are coping, is something that she appreciates.

Looking to the future

Ultimately, Denise believes moving to Australia during the pandemic was the right call. After completing her master’s degree, she plans to save money to fulfill her childhood dream of studying and eventually working as a medical doctor. At the end of the day, she remains fueled by her advocacy. She longs to one day return to the Philippines and serve her Inang Bayan, bringing with her the lessons and the skills she gained from Australia.

Given her own experience, Denise encourages others to continue following their dreams. She shared that the initial fear a person may feel when faced with this decision is to be expected, but it shouldn’t stop them from pursuing their goals.

If you’re ready to study abroad like Denise, IDP is here to help you through the process! Fill out the inquiry form on this page to get started.

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Written by: Gabrielle Therese Lombos

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