There are so many reasons to study in Australia. Sunshine, incredible beaches, multicultural cities, hiking trails, and diverse career opportunities often come to mind. But, what’s it really like when you hit the ground? Not only do you need to find accommodation and a job. You need to make new friends.
Emily Kwong is originally from Hong Kong and has studied overseas twice. Once in the UK and now in Brisbane, Australia. At a time when prices are rising internationally and accommodation isn’t as easy to find, she has made it work. Read her interview to find out why she chose to study in Australia. You’ll also learn more about how to navigate the move and have a great time while you’re here!
Why did you choose to study in Australia rather than another country?
I have experience studying abroad in the UK and I have always wanted to come to Australia. One of the reasons I chose Australia is because the language is easy. People in Australia speak English, so I haven’t had to learn a new language and there are no communication problems. It’s also a similar lifestyle to what I am used to. I felt that Australia would be a nice and different choice of location compared to the United States or Europe.
The weather and the nature side of Australia also really attracted me to come here. When I was studying in the UK, I was much younger and I didn’t really have the time or leisure to enjoy the city and country. I was mostly focused on just studying. Now that I’m studying later in life, I have the opportunity to explore Australia. I’m not just here to study, I’m also here to travel and educate myself.
After so many years of working in the same industry, I was finding my career a bit repetitive and tiring. So, I just needed a break. Then COVID happened and I definitely needed a break. I had this travelling rage, which I think a lot of people have in their blood now. For me, this is a year off from my career, maybe more, so that I can see if I can do something different to what I’ve always done. I’m studying social media marketing, but my background was in retail fashion. I have always had an interest in marketing and I wanted to build a digital skill set. I figured, why not just do something very different?
How did you decide what course to pick?
I spoke to an agent that was based in Melbourne, Australia. I mentioned that I wanted to do something marketing related and she gave me a list of what was out there for marketing and communication. Social media marketing stood out to me because I think it’s the next big thing. It’s also a dream to be able to work from anywhere.
How did you navigate the move to Australia?
Honestly, it was not as easy as I thought it would be. Finding accommodation was definitely a challenge because Brisbane has become a more popular place to live. I had some friends who told me it was going to be very difficult and it was. Transport has been fine, but it would be convenient to have access to a car.
Renting takes a bit of luck. I’ve shared places with people before. Sometimes people don’t work out, but sometimes you meet a great person and you’re ok. If you already have friends in Australia, definitely ask around first because building connections here is actually really useful. Just spread the word and ask as many people as possible, because there is always someone letting or looking for a roommate. My second piece of advice is to make sure you check out the area before you move there. Especially if you’re new to a place or city, you should always walk around where you want to live to get a sense of it. It’s also good to check out the transportation to make sure it’s actually convenient for you.
Also, make sure you learn the rules. There are a lot of tenant rules in Australia that are different. Read the contract and make sure you understand. If you don’t, then ask friends who are living here and know a bit more than you do.
What do you enjoy the most about living in Australia?
The weather is so nice and there is a lot of sunshine. But, be careful when you’re out walking in the sun because it’s easy to get sunburnt. Australia is also big and the natural environment has a lot to offer here. I love being outdoors, so that makes me excited. I’m just a few months into my stay and I know that there is still so much for me to see.
How did you find work while you were studying?
It has been difficult, but I might be able to land a part-time job soon. Throughout each interview, I have needed to explain why I am studying in Australia and choosing to apply for that job. My student visa only allows me to work part-time, which can work for certain sectors, like hospitality and retail, as well as some office jobs. However, it’s quite competitive.
I think that employers hesitate when they hear the word visa because they think of the paperwork involved. But I know friends who have started as an intern or part-time and eventually became full-time employees. It does happen, but it’s a challenge to find your first role in Australia when you don’t have local experience or connections.
What has been the most challenging aspect of living in Australia?
The most challenging thing for me so far is putting myself out there to meet new people and expand my network. I have a bunch of friends that I know well, so coming to a new country has been a little bit intimidating. The first thing I did when I moved here was to put effort into making local and international friends, anyone really. Knowing people really helps you to deal with a lot of things along the way.
If you have problems with accommodation or banks, you can always ask your friends for their opinion, because some of them have lived here for many years and can give you advice.
Apart from that, I wouldn’t say that I have had a challenge living here. Sometimes I still get nervous about accommodation, but it’s more just been adjusting my lifestyle.
What unique skills did you gain from studying in Australia?
Learning how to put myself out there. The ‘new Emily’, is like let’s just try and do that, why not? I’ve learnt to be more open-minded and to meet more people. I’m definitely becoming more adventurous and I’m looking at being in a new country as a restart.
Do you plan to stay in Australia or take your skills back home?
I really hope to stay in Australia, at least for a year. That’s why I’m trying to land a job or gain a part-time internship. I want to get more experience in my field and I really do like it here. There is still so much more for me to see.
I don’t want my stay here to have just been a holiday, I want to have a full experience. I’d love to make the most of the opportunity and see if I can enjoy living and working in Australia.
How is studying in Australia impacting your career prospects?
I don’t think it matters where I learn my skill set, it could be in Australia, Canada, or anywhere. But, if I can stay here for some time, it helps me show to people that are hiring that I have a purpose and am achieving it. In terms of career, it helps me to show to my next employer that I’m willing to challenge myself and do something very out of scope.
How do you recommend other international students make the most of their time in Australia?
Go and travel! Don’t just work, study, and go to the coffee shop on the weekend. Go to the beach, go hiking, go wherever. I’m an outdoors person and I like to see nature. You could even go to a different town. The Gold Coast isn’t far from Brisbane. Just see everything while you’re here. You can fly to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide if you do your planning. When I was in the UK, I didn’t really see much because it was a different time. But, while you’re here, just go and see everything that Australia has to offer.
Are you ready to study in Australia?
If you have any questions about your study options, migration opportunities, or career pathways in Australia, please get in touch with our friendly Student Care Team. You can reach out using the Live Chat feature below, in person at one of our campuses, or via our online contact page.