Sahil Puri is from India. He studied a Bachelor’s degree in IT at Victoria University. This is his experience as an international student in Australia.
Why did you study Information Technology (IT)?
“I did a lot of online research, comparing universities and it was not an easy task. My family had invested in me and it was my whole future at stake, so I felt I had to make the right decision. It was overwhelming at the beginning, as Australian Universities have a lot to offer. But the number one thing that drove me to choose Victoria University (VU) was that they provided some of the best IT programs back then. The second best thing was the campus, which is right in the heart of Melbourne CBD. It is so convenient with a two-minute walk to public transport and one of the biggest train stations – Flinders Street Station. It ticked all my boxes for a great university, so I went ahead and decided on it as my destination.
“The course itself was great. It was very practical and, most importantly, I had huge support from my teachers to help me study and understand everything. They always had an open-door policy and we could go anytime with questions to seek assistance and help.”
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What challenges did you face being an international student in Australia?
“I was very excited, but I faced a few challenges that made it difficult to start my new life. I did not have any friends or family in Melbourne so making new friends was not easy. Especially given that I was an international student in Australia, coming to study abroad for the first time. The language barrier was also one of the biggest challenges, and it prevented me from getting full exposure to international life. Since English is my second language, I was not able to fully understand the culture at first. Also coming from India, I was a vegetarian and that was not easy. Life was like a Rubik’s puzzle when I first came but, fortunately, I had wonderful support from VU. The teachers and the International Student Service staff really helped me brave all those challenges.”
Some special friends and teachers at University
“Although it was tough to get to know people at the beginning, I must say I was very lucky to quickly adapt to the new environment and meet lots of great friends. I would like to mention four people who helped to shape my life: My International Coordinators Danielle Hartridge, Vinshy and Esther Newcastle. They were amazing. The most important person who helped me and my classmates was our course coordinator Jackie French.”
Voluntary and community activities
“I was very lucky to be involved with volunteering activities thanks to my amazing mentor Nana. She was the president of the International Student Association (ISA) at VU. Soon, volunteering became everything for me, as I made so many friends who are like family now. I also became the Vice President of the ISA, and I participated in activities for Study Melbourne, including the Lord Mayor Student Welcome Event every year.
“As an international student in Australia, I was extremely happy to contribute back to the community here in Melbourne and help other students to feel welcome. I was born in an Asian country where responsibilities and voluntary work equates to looking after your family and relatives. But coming to Australia has opened my eyes and shown me that social responsibility is bigger than just family and friends. In return, I have gained valuable experience and skills. But the most important gift was the people I met during my volunteering time. We still keep in touch and often check in to see how each other is doing. They are my friends for life.”