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What international students have learnt about themselves since coming to Melbourne

CHANGE is inevitable and it’s something that everyone, international students included, experiences in some way, shape or form. Trinity College Foundation Studies students Yixue ‘Stella’ Chai, Wen ‘Jocelyn’ Ling and Yonatan ‘Jon’ K Yudistira talk to other international students to see what kind of change they’ve undergone. 

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Making the decision to study abroad is a big one and the experience itself can be transformative. The longer students stay abroad, the more they develop and learn about themselves.

Some students change fundamentally, altering their previous habits and behaviour. Others change superficially and focus more on how they might present themselves given the amount of freedom that they now enjoy. Wherever students might lie, one thing is certain: change is inevitable.

One 19-year old Chinese student who has studied in Melbourne for two years and wanted to remain anonymous when we spoke with him, said that he didn’t have as many friends here as he did in China yet he’s much happier with the friends he has in Melbourne.

“It might sound like I’ve lost friends, but I think I found better, long-lasting ones,” the student said.

Additionally, he admits that his fashion sense is a bit messier these days though he chalks this up to a matter of focus; attributing his lack of a diverse wardrobe to a greater need to budget better. As a result, the student felt more independent and overall expressed that he was happier since arriving in Melbourne to study.

Quinn, an 18-year-old Chinese girl who has studied in Melbourne for four months, mentioned that her dress style has changed significantly and she has grown to become more independent since coming to Melbourne.

“I usually wore sports suits when I was a high school student in China, but now I wear more formal clothes,” Quinn said.

Influenced by the people in Melbourne, she has changed her entire look and is satisfied with how she presents herself everyday now.

As for her independence, Quinn feels that now she has more agency to make decisions on her own. Compared to her life in China which was closely guarded by her parents, she now needs to decide things for herself.

“ I am trying to be more independent actually, I am still learning and improving.”

Another student from Trinity College said that though she feels she may have experienced changes, she doesn’t seem to notice them. For this particular student, change came in the form of how she looked to her friends back home.

She said that every time she posts a picture of herself on social media, her friends from her home country tend to comment that she has “changed a lot,” and that she is “more beautiful than before”.

Admitting that she now spends more money on brand name clothing here than she ever did in China, she also said that she feels more confident and empowered in these clothes as they help her to become more willing and forward in interacting with others. She also adds that given her expensive taste, it only makes her want to study even harder so that she can enter a career that will enable her shopping tendencies.

Whether small or big, change does happen for students and during these formative years, it is international students who especially undergo a big change as a result of independent overseas study.

Do you feel like you’ve undergone a change since coming to study in Melbourne? Was it your behaviour and focus that changed or was it your sense of fashion and appreciation of culture? Have you learnt something about yourself as a result of this change? Let us know in the comments below.

This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via meld@meldmagazine.com.au.

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About

Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

Many international students live in or around the city because of the proximity to their colleges and universities, and that was where we decided to focus our efforts first. Many of us live, work and study locally too. Our editorial team is made of both local and international students, and it has worked to our advantage in providing local content in every sense of the word.

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