Many people dream of travelling to Australia. Stine Marie Damsgaard, originally from Denmark, was one of them. While at school in Denmark, Stine developed a friendship with an Australian exchange student, who ended up becoming her best friend. Once Stine completed high school in September 2012, she packed her bags to visit her friend in Australia.
It was supposed to be a year of travel for Stine. Instead, she ended up making Australia her home. She met her partner a few months into her stay and has since been living in Australia for eight years.
Stine shared her fascinating study journey with us and spoke about how she immersed herself in the Australian way of life from day one.
Settling into Australia
Stine was fortunate to have her best friend in Australia. Initially, she stayed with her family in Torquay, a beachside town in the state of Victoria. Living with an Australian family allowed Stine to immerse herself in the culture straight away.
From there, Stine moved to another Victorian seaside town, Geelong, where she found work in retail and hospitality. She also started some short part-time business courses through Let’s Go Study Australia.
Stine was also interested in studying something creative; she loved drawing, painting and indulging her creative side. Interior design was always in the back of her mind.
“It is something I had wanted to study for a long time,” she says.
So, she set her sights on the Interior Design (Commercial) course at Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University Australia.
Studying at Billy Blue College of Design
Stine enjoyed that Billy Blue is a small college; she felt connected and loved that people got to know each other better than they might in larger schools. She also found the college very hands-on and supportive.
“Billy Blue is very industry-minded, with industry professionals teaching classes. You get all the tools you need to succeed in the industry,” she says.
Stine was nominated by Billy Blue to represent the college in Cumulus Green 2020, a world-class design competition, with her Amazebalz project. The project – a series of dissolvable shampoo balls that represent an alternative to plastic shampoo bottles — received an honourable mention in the competition; a result that Stine was elated by. “I can’t help feeling proud,” she tells us.
One of the things that Stine enjoyed most about her Interior Design (Commercial) course at Billy Blue was the combination of different classes. Her studies didn’t just focus on interior design theory; they also combined courses on graphic design, communications design, fashion and photography. She appreciated that the course included many hands-on projects, which gave students a rounded understanding of what it is like to work in interior design.
Stine now has a fantastic portfolio of work, which includes a number of exciting projects she’s worked on throughout her studies. One of her favourite projects required her to improve an existing restaurant by connecting it to its local area, which had a strong maritime history. After researching the area, she re-created the restaurant space using materials from the beach and details from ships.
Stine recently landed an administrative role at a design firm, where she is now starting to help out on small design tasks.
“I hope to develop my interior design career further, and I’m already putting my skills to use by renovating a house I’ve just bought,” she says.
The Amazebalz journey
It was during a design theory class that focused on the problem of ocean plastics that Stine’s award-winning mock project, Amazebalz, came to fruition. “The main problem we had to solve was how to get products to consumers without generating plastic waste,” says Stine.
During the course of her research for this project, she was shocked by the facts she uncovered about plastic usage. One of the statistics that troubled her was that Australians use 198 million shampoo bottles per year. Her mock project, Amazebalz, was developed with the intention of eliminating throwaway shampoo bottles by designing a dissolvable shampoo bar. The experience allowed Stine to understand the process involved in developing and designing a product.
Living in Melbourne
When asked what she loves most about Melbourne, Stine was quick to mention the people.
“I love all the different kinds of people. There’s such a diverse amount of people here, and you learn so much about different cultures,” Stine says.
She also loves that Melbourne is the art capital of Australia, something that makes exploring the city even more satisfying. “I love walking around Melbourne and finding all the laneways, and the different kinds of buildings and architecture styles,” she says. She’s also passionate about taking her camera out and capturing Melbourne through photographs.
Advice for other international students
Stine says the most valuable thing you can do as an international student is to embrace the local lifestyle and surround yourself with locals. “Immerse yourself in the culture and hang out with local people so you can experience the fullness of the country,” she says. She also recommends going out, meeting people, and eating pavlova (a very delicious Australian dessert).