From leaving their homes in India and travelling to Australia, to becoming scholarship winners and studying nursing, Ratika and Jenish are going through almost identical student journeys at La Trobe College Australia and La Trobe University: “We have the same timetable, same degree, everything!”
Close friends Ratika and Jenish took us through their tips for getting a scholarship as an international student, the power of social media when it comes to finding a community, and their plans for the future.
Pathways to success through La Trobe College Australia
Jenish, from Gujarat, and Ratika, from Punjab, both found the decision to move to Melbourne and study at La Trobe University an extremely easy one. For Jenish, it was the recommendation of a counsellor and the ability to access the La Trobe College Australia pathway program that convinced him it was the right choice.
“It was a bit difficult for me to get a direct entry into a Bachelor of Nursing, so La Trobe provided me the pathway program, which was easy for me to get into the Bachelor without losing one year of my study,” he says. “I knew studying here would be a different and beautiful experience, and I would leave the University with the confidence and competency to pursue my career further.”
For Ratika, too, the La Trobe College Australia pathway program made the University the perfect place to study, along with its strong ranking and international reputation.
“La Trobe’s excellent ranking for teaching nursing was my first impression,” she says. “Secondly, after finishing Year 12, the short program Diploma of Health Sciences leading into the Bachelor of Nursing was perfect for me as a student.”
Making new friends in the digital age
The stage was set for these two friends to meet – they had similar backgrounds and the same interests. That’s where Facebook stepped in.
“There was a Facebook group that La Trobe created for international students,” Ratika says. “As new students from India, we preferred to engage in conversation with people from our own country so we could understand each other better. Jenish sent me a friend request, and we realised we were doing the same course.”
“We met face-to-face during orientation. We had the same timetable and we ended up attending all our classes together,” Jenish adds.
Having a fellow student in the same position proved invaluable for the two of them.
“Not only did we discuss our studies, but how we came from India and how we’re settling into our new lives and jobs – it was a similar experience for both of us,” says Ratika. “We supported each other during this time and became friends.”
Nowadays, the students, both in their second year at La Trobe University, have expanded their friendship group. They have even decided on the best spot in Melbourne to work out any problems they might be having.
“We love sitting at the riverside – it’s so peaceful and calm,” says Jenish. “We chat about our studies, jobs, accommodation, future plans – everything we’re currently going through. We also solve each other’s problems and support each other through all ups and downs.”
Studies and scholarships
For Jenish, who completed high school in India, studying in Australia was an entirely new experience.
“I was not very good at my studies back in India,” he says. “But coming to Australia and La Trobe, studying doesn’t feel like a burden anymore because there are so many people, including the staff and fellow students, that keep pushing you towards your goal and to achieving what you’re here for. Studying here was the best decision that I made.”
In 2019, both students were awarded the La Trobe University Excellence Scholarship, giving them a 25 per cent reduction on course fees. Their feelings towards winning were mutual: “It was really surprising – I could never have done that without Jenish’s support, and Jenish would have never done it without my support,” Ratika laughs.
“It’s the biggest thing we’ve ever achieved, thus far,” Jenish adds.
For fellow international students pursuing scholarships in Australia, Jenish has this advice: “If you attend regular classes and listen to the lecturers and do things on time and be on track with everything, you don’t have to stress yourself out studying really hard. Remain calm and believe in yourself. Work hard and don’t worry.”
Advice for fellow international students
As for students who are heading to Australia for their studies, the friends offer firm advice.
“Many international students come here and they do not focus on their studies, which is wrong because you’re wasting your money. If you put in effort, you’re going to get an outcome,” Ratika says.
“Australia is famous for its education. Currently, we’ve noticed that there are a large number of Indian students who are coming to Australia or planning to come, so I would tell them that you are investing a huge amount in studying here, but the amount will get back to you in another way,” Jenish says. “The quality assurances that a university provides, especially La Trobe, and our qualification after the course is completed, are accepted worldwide.
“If you’re thinking about coming, you shouldn’t waste your time. Come to Australia and get going, because once you get going, you’ll have everything you need to push you forward towards your goal.”
In addition, Ratika believes Australia’s shorter nursing degrees are a big drawcard.
“Nursing, which is four years in the US and Canada, is only three in Australia. This is a major point for Indian students, because Indian students want to finish their studies as soon as possible,” she laughs.
They started their journeys together, and Jenish and Ratika plan on having extremely similar futures, too. Both friends want to pursue further study in Australia, after a few years of experience in the field.
“After a few years of work I might do a postgraduate degree or get into becoming a GP and going to medical school,” says Ratika. “Because I’d have a strong background in working in hospitals, I hope I’d easily be able to go to medical school.”
“As Ratika mentioned, she wants to get experience,” says Jenish. “I want to do the same – in hospitals, community health, aged care. Gaining that experience in different places would set me up for more challenges in the future.”