Dear International Students,
On behalf of UniLife, I welcome you, my student fellows, to UniSA: an innovative, modern university with the largest international university student population in South Australia. I am Kim Chau, a second year Pharmacy student from Vietnam.
First of all, congratulations on your decision to study at UniSA, because these last two years of school life at UniSA have been the best of my life. I understand it was a big sacrifice to leave loved ones, family and friends to pursue academic excellence in Australia, but I believe the international experience you will get when studying at UniSA will recompense all that loss. This will be a fun opportunity not only to learn about people and cultures from all over the world, but also to gain greater insight into your own skills, strengths and aspirations. Academic life here is probably not like the one you had in your countries—especially in Asia which is full of academic competition. At UniSA, you will have the most colourful life you’ve ever had.
However, I have noticed that when international students first come to UniSA, most of them try to avoid the school’s social life. I was once like that. I was scared of not speaking English well so I avoided as much conversation as I could. I was scared of not being able to pick up Aussie jokes so I only talked to international students. I did not understand Australian culture so I isolated myself away from any social life. All I had was academic life.
But that is not what coming to a university like UniSA is all about. University life in UniSA should be fun. Life in Australia is about a balance between friendship, joy and academic study. I started to realise that the old saying “Don’t talk to strangers” was not relevant in a university environment. While at first I felt a little uncomfortable and insecure, before long I developed a new sense of confidence in my ability to thrive in this new culture, making life-long friends from all over the world. The cross-cultural communication skills I gained while studying at UniSA have become incredibly valuable as it helped me to understand people from different cultures and make more friends. As a result I have landed myself a job at a Pharmacy store thanks to a friend’s reference.
My other personal experiences show that international students should get actively involved in the university’s activities, such as joining clubs or playing a role in UniLife. They will not cost you much time and you can simply enjoy associating with other students and experiencing the University’s spirit. Also as a student at UniSA you can have a voice or participate in many events. Since I joined Unilife, I have been enthusiastically involved and do my best to support this distinct community that I love. I am proud to say I am a UniLife member and a true UniSA student.
So, to help you get started we at UniLife encourage students to participate in our “Your Story” writing contest. This is a place for international students to share experiences and tales. It is part of a broader look at UniSA around the world—you will find that many domestic students have had similar experience living, studying and working overseas like you. We hope you will join in and enlighten us with your unique knowledge and perspective.
I wish you all the best in your years ahead at UniSA.
International Student Representative
Feature Image picked from the Your Story Photo Competition