Home Away from Home: Student One

Student One Wharf Street: 5 Bedroom Apartment Views

Moving to Brisbane has been the best decision of my life, but also the toughest because moving to a new city, adjust to a new lifestyle isn’t always as fun as people think it is. I’ve been living in Brisbane for a year now and one thing that I’ve noticed that is common for international students is the feeling of homesickness. I personally believe that your surroundings can be a factor to this feeling – which is why choosing where you will be living is one of the most important decisions you have to decide early on (even before you move to Brisbane!).

Student One is a premium student-built accommodation that provides study focused facilities (a whole floor dedicated to studying + computers you can use!), flexible room options, laundry areas, and of course – the perfect location! It’s located right in the heart of the city, which makes everything accessible and in reach. The building is staffed 24 hours which makes the environment safe and secure for students.

Study Floors at Student One

Study Floors at Student One

Computers: Provided for students at the Study Floor

Laundry Area

Laundry Area

The life of an international student is not all about studying – it can also be fun! One of the best things about Student One is the recreational areas that they provide such as: BBQ areas, swimming pool, gym area and not to forget, a sky lounge that provides you with the most amazing views of Brisbane city!

4th Floor: Recreational Area

39th Floor: Sky Lounge

Not only is the location so perfect, but the living conditions too. Based on my personal experiences moving into this accommodation, I have built not just a sense of community with friends that I know will l forever cherish, but it has made me feel as if I’m home, away from home.

For more information, visit Student One

Newbie in Brisbane

Brisbane welcomed me with heavy rain in June 2017. Growing up in a hot and humid region, Brisbane winter season made me worried. I don’t know what other people’s experiences are, but when I first arrived at Brisbane airport, my lips cracked and bled because the weather was cold and the wind hit me with no mercy. Thanks to QUT airport pick-up service I arrived safely at Iglu Kelvin Grove – Student Accommodation. I chose Iglu as my first accommodation because it was on the QUT Home website.

Iglu Kelvin Grove – Brisbane Student Accommodation

I couldn’t bear the cold and at the same time being lonely, but I had no idea who I should ask for help. I was caught up in a mix feelings that lead me to a very bad mood, until I got a message from an acquaintance.

Portrait picture of my heroine (May)

May knew that I had arrived and she was sure that I would need some help due to her past experience when she first studied abroad. May and her boyfriend took me to Westfield Chermside to buy a heater and other necessities. Without that heater I think I couldn’t make it through the night because of the cold weather. Once again, thank you May for being my heroine.

I spent nearly an entire day in both QUT campuses to memorise the map (Haha, How nerdy am I?), so I would not be running around asking for directions on orientation day.

The Cube in P Block caught my attention.

Miranda – on the left. We did not know that we come from the same country until Iglu’s staff introduced us. Surprisingly, Miranda also took the same course with me in QUTIC

Miranda and I had a great afternoon at South Bank. We were watching the sunset while drinking milk tea. I’ve heard, some people think Brisbane is boring even before getting here. Some of my friends tried to convince me to study at other majors cities, but the beauty of Brisbane touched me. Indeed, Brisbane is not very big compared to other cities, however it has everything I need.

I did not know this building is a casino until one of my friends took me for dinner in the casino’s restaurant .

View from Victoria Bridge

On the next day, I got in contact with a friend. He is a friend from high school best friend’s friend in middle school (I know, the connection sounds so complicated) , and he has lived here for a very long time.

Lyo – on the right

First, Lyo introduced me the shuttle bus from Kelvin Grove Campus to Garden Point Campus. From there we walked along Brisbane River from the Goodwill Bridge to the Story Bridge. Brisbane’s scenery along the river was calm and peaceful. It made me feel very welcomed.

Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park

At the end of the day, I knew a lot more about Brisbane and I feel so blessed to receive all the help from May, Miranda, and Lyo.

Why I become a QUTIC mentor?

Signing up for a mentor recruitment program was the first step that led me to other interesting events during my studying period in QUTIC. A quick flashback to my O-week, I remember I was nervous and excited at the same time. Everything was unfamiliar to me, and it took me quite a long time adjusting to college. This is the reason I wanted to help other international students who might face similar challenges, and to enhance their acculturation process. Below is a quick snapshot of what we (mentors) went through.

How excited we were on the orientation day for TP3, 2017?

When I knew I was selected to be a part of the Mentor Group for TP3, 2017, I didn’t expect to gain anything from this program. However, the teachers and friends who I worked together with throughout the whole period have moved my heart.  Nonetheless, becoming a mentor is not the only way to make college more memorable, there are plenty of opportunities and activities that are run by QUTIC. I strongly encourage QUTIC students to become more actively involved in social activities because you will never know what you have missed out on until you try. Watch a sneak peek of my mentor training journey.

Mentors in the jungle – (at Binna Burra Lodge)

Before this training, all members from the crew were strangers to each others. There were no greetings or a hand-waving, although we sit next to each others in classes and I didn’t understand why. No one took the opportunity to change the awkward atmosphere in the rooms, outside the classes, in the hallway, and in the eating area, or maybe it was just only me who felt that way. QUTIC is not that big, so we can get to know everyone in the same course within 1-2 weeks, but most people kept to their own.

After my mentor training, my schedule got busy due to extra work from being a mentor, but this change was a good one. I cared more about friends around me, started more conversations with acquaintances, interacted more with teachers, and invited students to join QUTIC’s activities. Despite of tons of homework waiting for me at the end of the day, I became more confident and excited to get involved in class activities more often. Eventually, I took on more roles and participated in other events because I know no matter the results, I will always have my group to back me up.

We threw a surprised birthday parties for Tony after the training.

Tony and the Girls

Tony and the Boys.

I’m glad that I made it through the program with all the members taking part in this teaching period. Everyone has directly and indirectly taught me something. I would like to give a big shout-out to Mrs. Lauren Bulter and Mrs. Suzan Gredig for their hard work with the Mentor Program. Making friends is absolutely going to make your studying journey more exciting, and there is nothing to lose. Besides, it is all about experiences and memories, and every single member of this Mentor Group TP3, 2017 are part of making my studies at QUTIC more memorable.

My first trip with my QUTIC friends

For my first semester break in TP2, 2017 at QUTIC, my classmates and I went to Cleveland to do some sightseeing as our beloved teacher Mr. Tim recommended. Cleveland? Well the story began when Lynn and I were assigned to work together for a presentation as we had lots of consultation with Mr. Tim. Since we have no prior experience with Queensland’s train system, and Lynn had never traveled “very” far away from her place, Tim suggested that Cleveland was close for a day trip. I didn’t have any expectations but I’m glad that I had Lynn and Miranda as travel buddies.

Raby Bay

We arrived to Raby Bay quite early in morning. We wanted to walk to Old Cleveland Lighthouse since it looked quite close on the map but after 2 hours of walking in the sun we gave up.

Old Cleveland Lighthouse

We soon to get bored with Cleveland Point and decided to go somewhere nicer.

Stradbroke Ferries

We got a good price when buying a ticket to North Stradbroke Island using our QUT student ID card. ($14 for return)

Point Lookout at North Stradbroke Island

We had lunch at Point Lookout while enjoying this wonderful view.

It took quite a bit of time for us to find the way to the nearest beach.

Stairway to heaven

We nailed it!

Lynn – on the left

Before the trip, Lynn and I were not that close. We were actually tired of seeing each other in the group meetings. At first, we didn’t work well together because we had different ideas, our learning style wasn’t similar due to our previous educational background and living environment. However, we put up with each other, and received a high score for the presentation. This achievement would not have happened without great efforts from both of us and a positive attitude during presentation even though we felt quite uncomfortable.

Looking back, working with Lynn was a good experience. It makes me realise that studying at QUT International College is not the only way to learn about different perspectives from other cultures. It also requires you to think about your own values and other culture aspects. Meeting Lynn is my first new friendship in QUTIC.

Harold Walker Jetty at North Stradbroke Island

I never told Lynn how grateful I am to have her as my friend, but I am sure that we have mutual feelings. After all the up and down with Lynn, she is my study buddy because we are very familiar with each others’ style of learning.

Short trip to Perth

Perth is the capital of Western Australia, situated where the Swan River meets the southwest coast. I went to Perth for a short trip to explore a bit around the city region and nearby suburbs. The flight from Brisbane to Perth took me around 5.5 hours and another interesting fact is  that Brisbane is 2 hours ahead of Perth even though both cities are in the same country.

From my impression, Perth has a similar urban design as Brisbane so it gave me a familiar feeling. I feel Perth is more spacious compared to Brisbane as I had to walk quite to get from one place to the other.

Photo: Elizabeth Quay at Perth.

Kings Park is a big park located at the western edge of Perth CBD. The park is renowned for its spectacular views due to its prime location on Mt Eliza overlooking Perth City and the Swan River.

Photo: One part of the Perth CBD landscape from Kings Park.

Photo: The view from Kings Park.

Photo: A good spot at Kings Park to enjoy the breeze with an excellent view.

Photo: Beautiful view from Kings Park with lovely weather.

Photo: One of the parts of Kings Park.

There are quite a few historic buildings turned into shopping areas in Perth CBD, so people can do their shopping under the historic ambience.

Photo: One of the shopping areas at Perth CBD.

Fremantle is the place that I would strongly recommend you to pay a visit whilst visiting Perth. I really enjoyed spending my afternoon there and I believe you would love the ambience too! Fremantle is part of the Perth metropolitan area and it is a port city.

Photo: Fremantle.

Photo: There are some entertainment facilities provided at Fremantle.

Photo: Seaview at Fremantle.

Photo: There are some street performance at the outside of Fremantle markets.

Photo: Chill away our afternoon with hot tea at Fremantle markets.

Photo: Delicious food from Fremantle markets.

Western Australia is well known for its beautiful beaches so I didn’t want to miss the chance to have a coastal walk!

I enjoyed exploring Perth. I believe you will enjoy exploring the beautiful city too! 🙂

 

Till next time.

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.

Photo: Brisbane City Hall at Brisbane City. Keen to know more about the city that I was going to stay for the next three years when I first came.

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.

Photo: My housemates and I prepared gathering lunch together.

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.

Photo: Myself with the view of Perth CBD at King’s Park. Perth, looking forward to meeting you again soon!

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!

 

Road Trip with friends

One of the greatest memories from my student life at QUT will definitely be the road trips I have done with my friends.

Me and my friends planned to go on a road trip to experience the beautiful countryside. My friends have driving licenses and cars so we just had to decide on the destination. However if you or your friends do not have a car, rental car services are very common in Australia. Pay attention to the driver requirements from rental car companies especially if you are holding a international driving licence. Do some research on the computer and you will find plenty of information.

IWe were a large group of people going on the road trip and even if it was a while ago, I still remember the beautiful day and all the laughters.

Our first stop was Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm which took us around 1.5 hours from Brisbane CBD.

Photo: Beautiful landscape at Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm.

Photo: Beautiful landscape at Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm.

Photo: You can enjoy a good meal from the chef at the restaurant there with such a great view.

Photo: We were lucky to see some lavender blossoms that day.

Photo: There are some nice souveniers available for visitors to purchase.

The next stop was Queen Mary Falls, which is located at the Main Range. The view was magnificient!

Photo: It looks spectacular while we were down under the falls.

Photo: My friends climbed up the rocks to take the photos with the beautiful falls and rainbow.

If you have an opportunity to go for a roadtrip with your friends whilst studying in Brisbane, definitely do it. It will be a wonderful memory of your uni life.

Girl friends trip at Melbourne Part 2

Exploring the city of Melbourne  is one of the main things to include in your Victoria travel itinerary. You should also plan some time to see the wonderful nature and scenery of the beautiful state Victoria.

Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives which spans 243km along the stunning coastline of Victoria’s south-west. There is a diverse array of things to do and see all across the region for examples the famous 12 Apostles, surfing and mountain biking expeditions, get up close to native wildlife and many more. The best and most fun is to rent a car and go for a roadtrip with your close friends. Otherwise, you can easily book a trip to Victoria through any travel agency.

Photo: The start of Great Ocean Road.

Photo: Somewhere along Great Ocean Road while we took a break from the long journey of car ride.

Photo: The view of famous 12 Apostles in a cloudy day.

Phillip Island is one of most popular attractions in Australia. You will be amazed by seeing the little small penguins returning to shore at sunset after a day’s fishing.

Photo: Saw a kangaroo in the bushes during the bus ride to Philip Island.

Before heading to Philip Island, we went to The Nobbies to walk along the coast and spent some time at the lookout enjoying the breathtaking scenery.

Photo: The boardwalks at The Nobbies.

Puffing Billy is Australia’s premier preserved steam railway. The journey onboard Puffing Billy takes you through the magnificient Dandenong ranges which is located only one hour east of Melbourne. I like the experience while on the ride of Puffing Billy so I would recommend a trip here.

Photo: Puffing Billy. You can still hang your feet out of the train.

Domaine Chandon is a winery located around 100 minutes drive from Melbourne CBD. There are a wide range of other wineries with beautiful surroundings in this area. You should try some of the lovely wines!

Photo: Domaine Chandon.

Photo: The beautiful backdrop that you can have there to take the photo.

Photo: We were lucky to see the double rainbows before leaving the winery.

Cape Schankck Lighthouse is the second coastal lighthouse built in Victoria. It is located at Mornington which is 1.5 hrs drive from Melbourne.

Photo: Cape Schankck Lighthouse.

Brighton Beach is the iconic beach which is well known for its colourful bath houses. Brighton Beach is located close to the CBD and easily accessible by a 30min train ride.

Photo: Brighton beach with the colourful bath houses.

Melbourne is definitely a beautiful place to travel around with friends. Start to plan your trip and explore during your semester break! 🙂

Girl friends trip at Melbourne Part 1

I have visited Melbourne twice with girlfriends. The first trip to Melbourne was a placement trip which lasted for nearly a month and the second trip was about a week. Melbourne is a beautiful and interesting place and I have lots of fun and good memories spending time  here with my girlfriends.

If you are looking to travelling to Melbourne from Brisbane, the flight takes around 2.5 hours. I will share with you guys what we did in the Melbourne CBD in this post.

Melbourne has a beautiful city landscape. Wandering around the beautiful botanic gardens is a good idea for a  relaxing afternoon. The tallest tower that you can see in the centre of the photo is Eureka Tower. You can buy tickets to go up to the skydeck, if you like to get the best view of Melbourne, the view up there is amazing.

Photo: Melbourne city landscape.

Shrine of Remembrance was built as a memorial to the men and women of Victoria who served in World War I and is now a memorial to all Australians who have served in war. It is free for admission and the view from there is pretty good.

Photo: Shrine of Remembrance.

Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building is a World Heritage Site-listed building. It is a beautiful building both in and outside. We spent some enjoyable time to chill at the botanic gardens outside of the building. Melbourne Museum is just located a short walking distance from there.

Photo: Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building.

Cook’s Cottage is a historic landmark of Melbourne which is situated in the beautiful heritage-listed Fitzroy Gardens. Visiting Cook’s Cottage is like a fascinating step back in time. You need to buy tickets to visit and there is students concession price available.

Photo: Cook’s Cottage.

Napoleon is an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. The gallery hosts a wide variety of exhibition and it is free for entry.

Photo: Napoleon.

Photo: The entrance of Napoleon.

Flinders Street Railway Station is the landmark of Melbourne. It serves the entire metropolitan rail network. This is the popular place to take beautiful tourist shots.

Photo: Flinders Street Railway Station.

Federation Square is a mixed-use development in the inner city of Melbourne. I would recommend to spend some time at the concourse outside of Federation Square to enjoy the city vibe. Don’t miss the chance to take a ride of the free city tram to see the city.

Photo: Federation Square and free city tram.

Photo: The map of Melbourne’s Free Tram Zone.

St Paul’s Cathedral is a historic building with intricate architecture. It is free entrance for public.

Photo: The exterior of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Photo: The interior of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Photo: There are many other magnificient churches along the streets of Melbourne. How good will the view up there at hot balloon be. Hopefully I can visit Melbourne again to experience the hot balloon ride.

State Library of Victoria is a Melbourne landmark and cultural icon. Personally I think it is a very beautiful building and it provides a conducive learning environment as well. I would love to spend some time to study here.

Photo: State Library of Victoria.

Chinatown Melbourne is the longest continuous China settlement in the western world. It has many good restaurants hidden inside the alleys.

Photo: Chinatown Melbourne.

Queen Victoria Market is a major landmark of Melbourne. It is the largest open air market in southern hemisphere.

Photo: Queen Victoria Market.

Photo: My favourite churros cart at Queen Victoria Market.

I guess Melbourne is undoubtedly one of the best places in the world to do café hopping. I had lots of fun exploring the cafes, being a great coffee lover.

Photo: Café in Melbourne CBD.

Photo: My favourite croissants place in Melbourne: Lune Croissanterie.

Degraves Street is a short and narrow laneway at Melbourne CBD. Spend your time to explore the good restaurants, patisserie and hipster shops here.

Photo: Degraves Street.

There are still so many other places which I missed whilst exploring Melbourne CBD. Melbourne’s weather could be fluctuating even within a day, so do check the weather report before you head out to explore this wonderful city.

My saving tips for the daily life of an international student

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.

1) Groceries

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/

2) Transport

I have shared some saving tips in my previous blog post: Public transport in Brisbane.

3) Accommodation

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.

4) Travelling

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!