What should an international student expect when they’re coming to study in Australia? What’s their new life going to be like? And how will they cheer themselves up when things get tough?

In these interviews, conducted by Yi Gao, real international students share their authentic stories, their struggles and the things they discovered that bought them joy and comfort in their new home.

Jingyi

Having worked in marketing for a few years, Jingyi decides to upgrade her academic profile to “recharge” herself. Australia became her first choice, because of the safety, and the length of time required for a master degree.

Aussies might sometimes take the beautiful weather for granted, but this is something Jingyi found herself attracted to from the moment her plane landed. She loves the blue, clear sky and fresh air.

After spending 8 years in Beijing, where the record-breaking PM2.5 air pollution produces hazardous smog that even artificial lights find it hard to puncture, she was filled with thrill when the picturesque blue sky of her imagination came true.

“When I see through the windows the skyline just rests there.”

She knew from that moment that she had fallen in love with Melbourne.

Jingyi’s social media timelines are a record of her love-affair – a series of fantastic pictures of the pure Australian sky, the sunset and sunrise.

The sky also finds a way to calm Jingyi down when she gets stressed out with studies.

“So peaceful, really changeable, that’s the mother nature which we all should owe to”, says Jingyi sincerely.

Debora

Being granted with the Australian award scholarship, funded by the Australian government, Debora considered herself ‘just lucky’.

But coming from tropical Indonesia, where the temperature from January to December is always stable and warm, Deborah had never been bothered by the cold… until she came to Melbourne.

Debora’s Melbourne story starts in the peak of winter-time, when she was welcomed by the July chill.

“I put so many layers on…I still felt cold”, she laughs.

But Deborah’s found a way to keep warm. Hot coffee, the signature of the Melbourne culture, brings her a sense of comfort.

Flat whites, lattes, mochas…every one made from different coffee shops, with its own special smell and taste.

The battle to defeat the cold winter set off Debora’s coffee journey and warmed her up.

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Gopika

Driven by her passion for global media and communication, Gopika was determined to come to Australia to study at the prestigious University of Melbourne.

To her surprise, the city of Melbourne didn’t fully match her imaginations as a “New York” style metropolitan city, with skyscrapers and huge crowds. “I found Melbourne like a bigger version of my hometown Kerala, India”, she said.

But what makes Melbourne different from her hometown is the way that Gopika feels free from competition and pressure.

Coming from a conservative Indian family, her parents a lot of emphasis on academic achievements.

Now, in her third semester at the University of Melbourne, she fully enjoys exploring of her own academic interests without being pushed to achieve high scores and facing peer competitiveness.

Helping out to produce audio-books in a digital audio company, Gopika now finds a nice balance between work and study, which was not possible back at home. In her work, Gopika finds purpose and freedom.

Joanna

Having a multiracial ancestry and being brought up in mainly European countries, Joanna was looking forward to experiencing cultural differences. Even though prepared, she was still surprised by the Asian influence in Melbourne.

“When I first came to the CBD, I thought I was in Hong Kong”, you can hear the excitement from her voice. The cuisine used to be the biggest motivation for Joanna to travel in Asia. But now, in Melbourne, then she found herself surrounded by amazing Asian food all the time. She was thrilled.

Korean stew, Peking duck and fried noodles are the top three dishes that make her drool. The intense spice in Asian cooking, perhaps, is the biggest challenge for Joanna, someone brought up on sweet custard and greasy British fish and chips.

Despite the spice, she still finds the food hard to resist.

We had a good laugh about her using chopsticks. With the help of many good friends she’s made in Uni, she’s getting her hands on those tricky chopsticks.

Through the multicultural fusion cuisine interwoven in Melbourne culture, Joanna finds the excitement and adventure she was hoping for.

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