Working while Studying

I was on a student visa which allowed me to work 40 hours per fortnight. I got a job at the Sofitel Melbourne on Colin (a five star hotel).

I was the club attendant at the Executive Club Lounge at the hotel. My number one reason for working was for living: to earn some cash to pay my living expenses. Hospitality is very popular for international students, but to be able to work for a five star hotel I had to have networks and previous experience in a related field. I was lucky, as when I was in Vietnam I was trained in hospitality and had spent a few years working in 5 star hotel, so I got my job in the very first week that I arrived. I had been aware before arriving in Melbourne that living costs were very expensive, so before I left Vietnam, I had already sent out my CV to the hotel to try and get a head-start.

I loved working for Sofitel – it paid well, it was legal as I had proper insurance and paid my taxes and they offered the training needed. The hotel is beautiful too, with lovely customers and beautiful colleagues. My boss was very supportive and always looked out for me. The hours were flexible and the location is right in the middle of the city, which was very convenient.

Apart from working for the hotel to get some income, I also volunteered for KOTO International as Marketing & Communication Manager, managing marketing and fundraising activities for KOTO and volunteers for some other organisations like Pink Hope Community and Breast Cancer Network Vietnam.

My Top 4 for Box Hill Institute

  1. The Lecturers – they were incredibly supportive and some of them remain close friends long after I have left.
  2. The International Student Services – their support for me made a huge difference; I had never travelled outside Vietnam, or even been on a plane, before I arrived in Melbourne, and they helped me to overcome some of the anxiety and difficulties that being a newcomer presented. They arranged lots of activities for us internationals, including camping excursions.
  3. Friendships – to this day, some of my closest friendships are those made while a student at Box Hill
  4. The course – I studied lots of things that were really useful to me and enjoyed the lectures and the lecturers.

My Top 5 for Melbourne as a Study Location

  1. The coffee! I love coffee and Melbourne has the best coffee on earth
  2. The public transport system – it’s brilliant in Melbourne. I think it’s probably the most convenient transport in the world.
  3. The People: my host family, my friends, my teachers who became friends, people in school, in college and in the surrounding community – the people in Melbourne are beautiful.
  4. The City – the city is so well connected, easy to get around, has lots of beautiful parks, art, events and festivals.
  5. The Food – it is easy to get the Vietnamese ingredients that I needed to cook my own food. But it is also a very multi-cultural city so there is a lot of different cuisine to experience.

Finally, a word of advice for future Box Hill students…

My main advice for those who are going to study at BHI, is not to focus just on studying for top marks because life as an international student is a lot more exciting there. Study hard but also join the clubs and activities provided by school. Don’t panic if you get stressed: you can seek help from the school, and from the people around you, with your studies, assignments or personal issues. Allow yourself to get familiar with those around you; it is easy to feel lonely in the first few months but that’s very natural and common. Make friends, enjoy life, talk to local people. Study Abroad is about experiencing differences so don’t stick to your own community but get involved in the local activities.

I met so many people and I kept in touch with many of them. Box Hill was like a little family for me. The teachers there are so wonderful! Many of them then continued to support my work when I was back in Vietnam.

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