How to Live Alone: Tips on Cooking at Home

Xin Chào everyone! I’m Tram from Vietnam, currently studying a Diploma in Creative Industries at QUT International College. When I came to Australia, I was shocked to see how everything here was so expensive, even a cup of juice could be $7. Then I thought I would try cooking at home, since I rented a room in a shared house with a common kitchen, to save money and eat healthier. So today I want to share some useful tips with you from my six month experience of home cooking (and occasionally eating out)!

  1. First, get kitchenware and pantry staples: Head to Target or Woolworths to get a pot, a pan, some bowls, plates and cooking utensils. You don’t need a lot of those, so try not to overload your space with stuff that you’re not going to use. If you like to eat rice, consider getting a rice cooker for yourself or chip in with your housemates for a shared one. A lunchbox can be useful for those noon breaks between classes. Also, stock up your pantry with spices and condiments of your choice, like salt, pepper, ketchup or BBQ sauce. For me, I always need to have a bottle of fish sauce at hand.
  2. Go online and find some recipes that you like: Hmm, I got the kitchenware, now what should I cook? No worries, there are plenty of online sites that can help you with that. Think of what you want to eat, find recipes and save them to a list. I usually do this at the end of the week, before my next trip to the supermarket.
  3. Make a weekly meal plan: From your list of recipes, pick out a few dishes that you want to cook. It’s better to choose recipes that have some similar ingredients so you don’t need to buy a lot of different kinds of meat and vegetables, then have to get rid of the leftover ingredients. Alternatively, you can get veggies that have a longer shelf life, such as pumpkin and cabbage. Do you know that if you wrap them up and put them in the fridge, they can last at least a month? Making a meal plan will help you get a good idea of the amount of grocery to get, save time deciding what to cook and create a more balanced diet.
  4. Make a grocery list: A shopping list will save you from the temptation of getting stuff that you don’t really need at the supermarket. Trust me, I’ve been there a few times and it wasn’t fun exceeding my weekly budget. A list will also save you some time because you already know what to get.
  5. Finally, let’s get cooking!: Don’t forget to clean up and store your food properly. It’s alright if it takes you some time to get used to cooking at home. Practice makes perfect 🙂

Student Meals

In the past six months, I’ve enjoyed learning new recipes, from Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese to Western food. I’m having a much healthier and balanced diet, compared to only eating out, and my body and my bank account love me for it. I also learned to find time in my schedule for meal preparation and most importantly, take better care of myself.  So I’m gonna leave you with some food photos and I hope you’ll find my tips helpful and consider trying to cook at home!

3 best things I have gained at QUT

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.

1. Time management skills

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.

If you are new to Australia, I can give you some advice even though I will graduate soon. You are welcome to contact me via my Instagram and Linkedin.

Finally, please feel free to leave your comment below and don’t forget to enjoy your study and keep following this QUT blog!

Plan after Graduation: Return Home Country or Stay in Australia?

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!

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!

Experience QUT Day

Experience QUT Day is an event organised for international Year 11 and 12 students studying  in Australia. Students can get an insight of what it is like to study at QUT and also network with other high school students.

Even though it was raining, about 70 students showed up to the event, some coming all the way from Gold Coast and Cairns.

I was helping with registration and was happy to see so many young faces looking forward to university life.

The event started with a presentation by Jimi Bursaw from Leadership, Development and Innovation Program on “Future of Uni, Work and You”.

Most of the students were very engaged with the presentation and which made students think about why university is important to them.

The most exciting part of the event was the Experience QUT Team Challenge. Students formed teams and then went to different stations hosted by faculties as part of the challenge. Each faculty representative was responsible for designing challenges and gave teams feedback on their performance. It was simply amazing to see students from different high schools form into groups and develop friendship.

This team challenge was hosted by QUT Science and Engineering faculty. Students learnt about simple programming and how to control a robot to take a certain route in order to finish the game.To be honest, it was not a simple task . Students needed to learn the basic programming quickly in order to finish the task. Team work  and being efficient was really important.

After almost 2-hour of the team challenge, winners and runner-ups were announced with different prizes. Students were also given the time to talk to student ambassadors about the courses and their study experience at QUT.

It made me think of myself in high school, although I wasn’t as active in seeking tips for starting uni as those young and passionate high school students. I did hope to have a chance to talk to seniors about their experience at QUT, so that I could know better what to expect. Experience QUT Day was indeed a golden chance for high school students to find out more about uni life. Good on you for attending!

Employability: Listening to QUT Alumni, Student and Graduate Recruiter

At the end of August, I was invited to talk about QUT Careers and Employment services from a student’s perspective in front of QUT international partners. Who have also been invited were a QUT recent alumni, a graduate recruitment officer from Suncorp as well as another current QUT student.

The showcase started with a 3 – 5 minute self-introduction from student representatives and the recent alumni. Each of us talked about what we had been involved with during our time at QUT and what Careers and Employment services we had used.

By listening to others’ talk, I found that it is enormously helpful for international students to take good use of QUT Career services.

Click here to access the international student panel talking about QUT Career resources.

After that, Kelly Pfeffer, graduate talent lead from Suncorp talked about her attitude towards international students from a recruiter’s perspective. I found her talk both useful and insightful for both international students at QUT and prospective students considering coming to Australia for further study.

Major takeaways from her talk are:

  • Nowadays some banks hire more IT students than business students for developing and innovation purposes
  • More sponsorship places are available to IT students compared with business students
  • Personality test result is a major factor in shortlisting candidates
  • International students stay in the company longer than their Australian peers (maybe due to sponsorship obligation)
  • A company sees the investment pays back if a graduate stays with them for at least 3 years

 

What actually surprised me or provoked my thought was to hear from a recruiter that “personality test matters” in the recruiting process. Sometimes the reason why you got rejection from a company is not because you are not successful enough, but because your personality doesn’t suit the culture of the company.
In conclusion, being proactive is a good start to get a job. In addition to that, companies are not only looking for a proactive employee; a good personality match is also relatively important.

Malaysia’s 60th National Day Celebration at QUT

QUT Malaysian Students Association hosted Malaysia’s 60th National Day Celebration at Kelvin Grove campus. The celebration was happening from 11AM to 3PM on August 31st. The activities included Henna (body painting with a dye prepared from a plant), calligraphy, games, multicultural singing and dance performances. There was also Malaysia local cuisines food stall and free Teh Tarik (a hot milk tea beverage which can be commonly found in restaurants and outdoor stalls at Southeast Asia countries) distributing.

Photo: Eating Malaysia’s popular local cuisine, Char Kuey Teow in the campus.

Photo: Chinese traditional dance performance.

Photo: Dance performance by QUT Dance Society.

Photo: Indian dance performance.

Photo: Music performance with traditional Chinese instrument called ‘Er Hu’.

Photo: Games session, speaking Malay (the official language of Malaysia).

It was a great effort by QUT Malaysian Students Association to host this event in the campus for the celebration of Malaysia’s 60th National Day. Even though we are far away from home, we can still celebrate National’s Day even in the campus.

Seeking Employment on Campus?

When I talk to my friends that I’m writing blogs as an international student for QUT and share with them my very own life in Brisbane, they always ask me: How did you become a blogger and can I become one as well?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know some of you, my readers, must be wondering as well and might want to be a future student blogger for QUT. Therefore today I want to share with you how I became a student blogger and some potential ways of finding employment on campus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About one year ago, I received an email with a recruitment advertisement in it calling for international students being bloggers talking about their life in Brisbane. It is a paid casual job and all you need to do for application is to upload your video/photos. Then I thought why not apply? So I applied and luckily got an interview opportunity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My blogging life all started from taking the initiative and applying for it! So if you come across some opportunities like this, don’t hesitate and apply!

Other tips I can give you about seeking on-campus jobs are:

It’s the first place QUT put down their recruitment ads if they are hiring students. QUT Business School recruits student learning advisers there. QUT admission also recruits student officers there.

When applying for jobs that needs more experience, check out the official QUT website.

  • Start from volunteering

If you don’t have any working experience, it might be a good idea to start from volunteering and build up your skills. Some volunteering opportunity on campus will lead to paid jobs!

 

Studying at State Library of Queensland

Personally I like to study at library because I can concentrate more easily and hence absorb what I am learning efficiently. Other than QUT libraries, sometimes I like to go to the State Library of Queensland which is located at South Brisbane with convenient accessibility and conducive learning environment.

The State Library of Queensland is the main reference and research library provided to the people of the State of Queensland.

Image: The exterior design of the state library of Queensland.

Image: The aesthetic and modern interiors of the state library.

Image: One of the study areas.

Image: My favourite reading zone.

Image: My favourite reading zone with the view of Brisbane river.

Image: One of the reading zones with natural lighting.

Image: Library members can rent the room to practise the instruments.

I really enjoy the ambience of the state library. If you want to change the environment to study or doing your assignments, the state library of Queensland will definitely satisfy you.

What I Wish To Know In My First Year At Uni

I know a lot of you just started university or are thinking about studying overseas. How exciting it is to study in another country! For me, before leaving China, I checked so many website or online BBS to see what other people’s advice is to enjoy university life to the fullest.

Their advice indeed helped me transit to a foreign university. Now looking back, I don’t really have any regrets. In spite of that, there are still three things I wish I know in my first year of university.

Beautiful QUT campus after rain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.GPA is important 

I know some of you must heard your peers telling you that it is okay to have a low GPA. If you have lots of extra-curricular activities, then the employers won’t care about your GPA.

Well at first I believe that. However, from my own experience as an international student in Australia. I can say that for lots of big companies, they will require you to attach your academic transcript while applying for jobs and some will clearly state that a 5 out 7 GPA is required.

You are supposed to spend 12 hours on one unit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Have a healthy lifestyle

While living by yourself overseas, getting sick can be very daunting. You have to take care of yourself while maintaining heavy study load.

Therefore, prevent yourself from getting sick is very important. There are so many parks and running trails in Brisbane. You’ll both have fun and meet new friends when you start working out on your body.

For me, I didn’t do any sports in my first year. Therefore in my first year, I felt it is very easy to get tired or catch a cold. When I was feeling sick during Christmas time at the end of 2015, I told myself that I would start working out the next year and try to start a healthier lifestyle.

New year resolution is to have a healthier lifestyle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Stand up for your rights

There was a big news this year of staff at 7-11 being underpaid. This big violation of employment law didn’t came to the public’s attention until someone stepped out and told the law enforcement.

For me, I was also underpaid in my job when I first started working in hospitality in Australia. Many of my friends had that experience too. But none of us stepped up to talk to our boss. Neither did we stand up for ourself and take any legal actions.

This mindset of ‘nobody will care’ or ‘getting paid is better than have no job’ is not correct. It is not okay to be taken advantage of. So check out the fair work website if you decide to work while study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope the above three tips can help you start your new life here in another country and happy studying!