I am Kasun Kalhara, studying Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at Queensland University of Technology, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. Since high school, I was interested in advocating peer students and support them.
The Confucius Institute is a non-for-profit organisation which aims to promote Chinese language and culture. QUT Confucius Institute was established in 2008, the first in Queensland. It has worked with both QUT and local schools to deliver educational workshops and Chinese language classes.
While studying in China, I had heard about the Confucius Institute program where you can go overseas to teach Chinese. I was very interested in this opportunity, however, you need a teaching degree to be able to apply, so I wasn’t eligible.
After studying in Australia, I realised QUT has a Confucius Institute and I emailed them to show my interest in volunteering because I’m still very keen to teach Chinese even though I’m studying business. ( If you are also interested in volunteering, you can just email email@example.com. )
One event that I participated in this year is Queensland Chinese Speech competition where both primary, middle and high school students from various parts of Queensland attended. They were grouped by age and background (being Chinese-speaking and non-Chinese speaking). I was very surprised to see the big turnout of both students and parents.
While volunteering as a floater in the competition room, I also got the chance to sit and listen to students’ speech. Some students stumble, others very fluent. Regardless of it, I can see how much effort they put in learning another language and how much support the peers show to each other.
Recently, QUT Confucius Institute hosted a thank-you event to thank the efforts all the volunteers put in during this year. Some previous volunteers also showed up and they now teach Chinese in local schools. So if you are a teaching/education student and are interested in gaining some experience, start with being a volunteer at Confucius Institute because they have a lot of teaching opportunities and collaboration with Queensland schools.
P.S. If you are interested in learning Chinese, QUT Confucius Institute run basic Chinese classes every week. 🙂
After having studied at QUT for two years, finally I will be graduating this month. This is the best moment, and to look back at my university life and sharing some experiences with students.
I am going to describe three main positive acquisitions that I have gained during my studies, including time management skills, networking, professional and practical learning.
As an international student, there are so many things I have to do on my own and probably have never done before in my home country. For example, having a part-time job, studying, volunteering, doing an internship, attending workshops and events, doing housework and so on. The most important thing is to finish what you have to do first and then prioritise tasks as well as balance them with your limited time. This is a really useful skill that is also discussed in several workshops or orientation events. It’s not an easily seen skill, but I am sure this skill will significantly influence my future life. After these two years, I understand how and what I should do to multitask that will help improve my future job efficiency as well.
2. Social network
During these two years, I’ve met and made numerous friends from all around the world. There are always some great people who I can learn from for example what they think and do, but also their friendship and support will be there for our future career.
3. Professional and practical learning
QUT is definitely a university for the real world. Although it also means the learning could be stressful for many students. I rhave learnt a lot in classes, assignments, and also working on practical projects for Australian companies. These experiences have given me the ability to deal with problems and finding the solutions.
To sum up, studying in Australia has been a great process for me to understand what my passion or interest exactly is and build enough confidence and learn relevant skills to achieve these goals. Luckily, I have already got a full time job offer before graduating and it is strongly related to my profession and interests. I really appreciate everything and everyone that I have met at QUT and in Australia.
Finally, please feel free to leave your comment below and don’t forget to enjoy your study and keep following this QUT blog!
Now it’s finally time for my master graduation ceremony. Can’t believe time goes so quickly, my study journey in Brisbane has almost come to an end.
Coming to Australia to study was a big decision. After planning my study journey for a long period of time, taking all the factors into consideration e.g. tuition fee, living expenses, independent life etc into account, I eliminated the hurdles and eventually boarded the flight to Brisbane three years ago. I was working for a while before going abroad to save up some money for my education and also to gain some life experience.
Initially I thought I am pretty brave to leave home and go overseas alone, but there are actually many people that are doing the same travelling from all over the world. Attending the QUT orientation program is definitely a good way to get to know people from all around the world who will be studying at QUT. I got to know friends from Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan and many other countries. I met up with my Japanese friends in Tokyo when I went for a graduation trip to Japan recently. I feel happy that the friendship we developed QUT could continued even though we don’t see each other regularly. Don’t miss the opportunity to make friends with the locals, they are all nice and friendly!
The adaptation period could be the hard time to go through. Most of the shops close at 5pm and the streets become quiet. No mummy’s dinner is ready for me while I go back home from university. Dining out could be a burden in living expenses, so I still have to prepare my own lunch for university to save money. I didn’t know cooking at all previously but now I think I would be able to cook a few dishes for the families.
Studying in an all English environment has been a challenge for me. My native language is Mandarin and I grew up in a mixed language living environment. At the beginning, most of the time I felt lost during the lectures, discussion and conversation with course mates. As the time progressed, I think I was getting better in communicating in English even though there is still room for improvement. Living in an Australia is definitely a good way to improve your English skills.
All the written exams, assignments, practical tests and oral tests have never been easy to pass through. You really have to study hard to pass the different tests. I am glad that it’s over now!
I’m so lucky to have got a job offer before graduation. I’m going to leave Brisbane soon after my graduation ceremony and heading to Perth to work as an optometrist. Thanks to the support of my family that helped make my dreams come true. Not sure how the future is going to be but I believe ‘If you can dream it, you can do it’. Lastly, I wish all the graduating students all the best with your future endeavors.
Bye Brisbane! Till next time 🙂
p.s: Hopefully my sixty posts make you understand more about the international students’ life at QUT. I wish you enjoy your QUT life to the fullest!
When I first arrived Australia in July 2015, I literally had no idea what to expect. Studying in Australia was a prompt decision but my impression of Australia back then was limited to kangaroos, koalas and surfing.
The first day in Australia have left me with a vivid memory. I was new to this country and couldn’t even communicate properly in English while trying to open a new account at a local Commonwealth bank.
Things started to get better after joining student clubs, volunteering as a student mentor and talking to people in the class. Now looking back at the past 2.5 years at QUT, I don’t think I have any regrets! I made good use of all the resources at QUT and met incredibly nice people that I look up to.
I went on 3 short-term exchanges, attended 1 conference as a QUT delegate and went for 2 international travels just by myself.
At the beginning of this month, the grades of the final two subjects was released and that’s when I finally felt graduation is so real and so soon.
Although there aren’t always happiness and success while studying overseas, especially when you have no family here, the 2-year study life in Australia definitely made me feel more confident and mature as a person. I feel that I’m more comfortable to work with people from different countries and have a genuine interest in the world.
However, due to internship commitment, I won’t be able to attend my graduation ceremony. In spite of that, I don’t feel so bad because I enjoyed every second whilst living in Australia. The process itself means celebration for me!
“Graduation is a time of completion, of finishing, of an ending, however, it is also a time of celebration of achievement and a beginning for the new graduate.”
All the best to my fellow students who are also graduating this semester! I wish you a bright future ahead!
Today I handed in my last assignment which gave me a bittersweet feeling — only one exam left until I graduate.
As the graduation season is approaching, I got asked quite a few times from family and friends what my plan is after finishing study. To be honest, I’m still not too sure.
I remember before I left China, I was super excited and decided that I would stay in Australia and find a job there because of the good weather, great beaches and higher paying jobs than my home country. Now two years have passed and I start feeling unsure what I’m going to do or where I’m going to go.
I haven’t worked in China, but got told how fast it is developing and how many opportunities there are. I remember last time when I was doing training for the dragon boat race, a friend of mine who just went on a business trip to Shanghai said: “OMG, so many big deals are happening right now in China!”. It made me really tempted to go back and be part of this rapid change. The thought of joining the booming market made me feel excited.
However, I also have concerns about going back. First of all, there are so many Chinese students returning home every year. Some of them graduated from top universities from all over the world. Therefore, if I go back, I have to compete with all those top talents to get a good job which make me feel very pressured. Secondly, regardless of the chance of getting a good job, I’m not too sure whether I will like the fast pace and busy lifestyle in the finance industry back home.
On the other hand, working in Australia sounds both exciting and full of uncertainty. Will Iget a job? What I should do? Will I stay here forever? I heard from my friends who have already graduate that getting a job, a good one, here in Australia is very hard. As an international student, you sometimes might feel left out among your colleagues because of different lifestyle and communication barriers. However, the work life balance is definitely better compared with China.
Even though I had two years to think about my future plan and career path while studying overseas, I’m still not too sure where I should go. I think time will tell what choice I should make, but for now, I will follow my heart!
I think money issue is one of the main worries for most of the international students in Australia. Being an international student in Brisbane, I have to keep a close eye at the digits of my bank account to make sure that I have enough money for my rent, food, transport, social activities, travelling and last but not least, the tuition fee.
There are many options to do your groceries in Brisbane for examples Aldi, Woolworths, Coles, IGA, K mart, Big W, Costco, Asian Groceries Stores etc. Normally the large grocery stores may carry most of the stuff you need but different brands. Compare the prices between the grocery stores and the different brands they carry (grocery home brands are often cheaper) if you want to save some money! Furthermore, the big grocery stores may have discount for different types of products every week, so join their mailing list and keep an eye on their specials.
Other than the regular promotion, some products which are approaching expiry date will have a further price reduction. I always buy discounted ice coffee which makes my day haha!
As a member of one of QUT’s student organisations you may have discounts for stores across Brisbane. For instance, QUT Malaysian Students Association provides special discounts for members who shops in one of the Asian grocery stores in the city.
I would suggest you buy fruits and vegetables from the markets, as it’s normally cheaper than the grocery stores. You can find out more about Brisbane markets from my previous post: https://blogs.qut.edu.au/student-life-in-brisbane/2016/11/01/markets-culture-in-brisbane/
I have shared some saving tips in my previous blog post: Public transport in Brisbane.
There are many options for accommodation for examples homestay, students apartments, shared acommodation etc. The weekly rent could range from AUD $100+ to $300+. Personally I think shared accommodation is the cheaper option, however, it all depends on what your requirements are.
Travelling could be very affordable if you plan well in advance. Brisbane has a great geographic location and is near most of Australia’s major travel destinations. Join the airlines’ email list so you don’t miss the cheapest ticket. Instead of flying, you can choose to do a road trip to any of the beautiful places surrounding Brisbane. You can read my previous post regarding my visit to the beautiful places surrounding Brisbane.
If you plan to visit some tourist spots which require entrance tickets e.g. Lone Pine Sanctuary or all the theme parks on the Gold Coast, I would suggest you buy the ticket in advance. Check out some travel agencies in the city or suburbs as they would be able to sell you the tickets with a better price than the venue. You can read my blog post with some travelling tips about Gold Coast Theme Parks.
5) Social activities
I enjoy dining out with friends, however dining out in Brisbane could be very expensive. Some restaurants serve very big portions, so it is a good idea to share with a friend if you have small appetite. The portion of food sold by food trucks is normally not that big. You could check out my previous blog to know more about the food trucks culture in Brisbane.
Hopefully these tips could save some money whilst studying as an international student in Brisbane!
Toowoomba is a city located in the Darling Downs region of southern Queensland. It takes around two hours to drive from Brisbane CBD. A friend of mine and I planned a road trip to Toowoomba for the Carnival of Flowers which occurs in September every year. Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers is an award winning event about spectacular gardens, live music and local food & wine etc. It’s an event loved by locals and visitors travel from all over the country to take part.
The first place we went to was Queens Park which had many beautiful flowers.
After finishing our picnic, we went to the Japanese Gardens to see more flowers.
After relaxing at the Japanese Gardens, we went to a mountain in Highfields, which is around twenty minutes drive from Toowoomba. We didn’t know a lot about the place before going there and there were no clear signs telling you which trail to follow, so we didn’t explore too much. However, we got to see a wild kangaroo jumping in the bushes.
Toowoomba is a great destination for a road trip. Nonetheless, I would suggest you going on a day with good weather as it could get very hot and cold.
Byron Bay is a coastal town in New South Wales. It is a popular holidays destination for beaches, surfing and scuba diving. It takes around two hours to go there by car from Brisbane CBD. It is a perfect destination for a day trip when you want a getaway from heaps of assignments.
We departed from Brisbane CBD at 8.30AM and arrived at Cape Byron Light House at around 10.30AM. Other than seeing the breathtaking view from the viewing platform near the light house, you can also do some light hiking there.
Besides going to the well-known Cape Byron Light House, Byron Bay is also the place famous for skydiving. I gave myself a birthday challenge last year which was to fly in the sky.
Can’t believe that I did it still! If I never challenge myself to do skydiving, I will never get to enjoy the breathtaking view up there. It’s the same in our daily lives: If you don’t challenge yourself, you will never realise what you can become. Become a better you from stepping out of your comfort zone.
Mid-autumn Festival is widely celebrated in many Asian counties to celebrate the season of harvest. In China, this festival is a time where families get together to enjoy the beautiful moon and eat sweet mooncakes.
This year, Mid-autumn Festival happens to be during the Chinese National Day period so that Chinese people get a long holiday of 8 days. Most of my friends back in China choose to go overseas for holiday or return to their home town to spend time with their family.
On the other side of the world, myself as an international student in Australia decided to celebrate this festival with the QUT community. I’m so glad that Mid-autumn Festival is one of the flagship events at QUT where students can come to enjoy the cultural performance as well as taste free mooncakes.
The celebration event included Chinese Tai Chi, traditional Chinese musical instrument performance, lantern-making, calligraphy workshop as well as lion dance. As the venue was located near the Goodwill Bridge, a lot of passengers passing by was attracted by the music and came to join the festival together with students.
Even though I cannot be at home to celebrate this festival together with family, I don’t feel lonely because Brisbane is so multicultural. I felt a sense of community seeing so many people coming together to attend this event, whether international students or domestic students.
Mid-autumn Festival marks the end of autumn and the celebration of harvest. This period at university is also almost the end of the semester. Dear friends, let’s study hard, get through this busy period and celebrate the harvest of our effort soon!