My experience in Brisbane as an international student
It was a couple of weeks after graduation when one of my poly classmates and I started to realise that we were lagging behind most other classmates who already knew what their next steps would be.
Naturally to us, after polytechnic came university. Our high-achieving classmates got places in NUS and NTU, while a group of those who were passionate about hotel and tourism management enrolled themselves in private institutions that offered related degrees in Singapore.
We both had average GPAs of about 3.3/4.0 which we were satisfied with, considering we were not the brightest or most hardworking students. But that was clearly far from the entry requirements to the NUS or NTU business school, which seemed like the only options then – besides SIM of course. But I have to admit, the lack of an interesting degree back then (and the fact that its boringly just next to NP which we had already spent 3 years in) didn’t quite attract us.
With that motivation, we attended a career & study fair and came across the possibility of studying in Australia. The idea wasn’t completely new to me but also wasn’t on my mind because I knew I was too cowardly to be alone in a foreign country without my family.
But somehow, imagining studying a subject I enjoyed and graduating from a top 100 university in the world despite my very average results outweighed that fear. We signed up straight away and it went from no-idea-what’s-next to mum-I’m-going-to-study-in-Australia-bye’ so quickly I didn’t have time to worry about being there alone.
I remember the first thing that shocked me in Brisbane was the unimaginably high parking rates in the city – it was almost $50 for about 3 hours in the mall, then I found out you could book parking tickets in advance for more much affordable rates.
Then, it was how early the shops closed when the sky turned dark, and just how dark it could get in the neighbourhood by 7pm.
Despite how scary it sounds, it wasn’t difficult to adapt to the differences especially when school started and I began making new friends in class and at the various clubs and societies. Making friends was easy since everyone was new and I soon got close to a few of them. We watched movies, drove to Gold Coast every other weekend, explored different farmers’ markets, cafes and tourist attractions and went on road trips together throughout our 2 years there.
Meanwhile, we attended classes and did assignments diligently, making sure we prioritised studies among all the fun distractions.
As for being away from family, it turned out (temporary) freedom was more amazing than I thought. I definitely did learn to be more independent, or at least shortcuts to cooking edible meals, how to get by without ironing clothes, and where to get the best bargains.
This all happened years ago, yet the memories will never be forgotten. Till today, I still miss those days which I will always describe as one of the best times of my life.
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