Student stories: “Studying in Melbourne changed my life forever”

AFTER leaving her Singapore home and moving to Melbourne, Hui Jun Ng went from pampered princess to self reliant super chef, DIY diva and published journalist. 

Hui Jun Ng

Studying in Melbourne has changed my life forever. Back home in Singapore, I had been so protected all my life that I was absolutely clueless about everything, especially household duties.

Looking back, I was beyond pathetic. I simply took everything for granted. I didn’t know how to operate the washing machine or use the oven.

When I first came to Australia, I didn’t even know how to boil water, so I stocked up on bottles of mineral water. Upon learning how, I tried to cook pasta by pouring the boiling water over it. It was a total flop, and it still took me a while to learn how to turn on the stove.

To worsen the situation, I was homeless for the first two weeks of my new life in Melbourne. I spent the first week at a friend’s place and the second at a hotel. All the apartments were being leased to someone else instead of me.

By the third week, I finally got an offer and I jumped at the opportunity. I recall dragging my belongings across various streets from the hotel to the apartment in the cold winter rain without any help. It was a horrible experience.

When I arrived at my new home, I was eager to plop myself onto a comfy bed and surf the internet, but my entire apartment was unfurnished and there was no connection available. It took a month for the internet to start working.

As for the furniture, I eventually bought it all from Ikea, but it had to be assembled and I had nobody to help me.

Part of me wished I was back in Singapore where I wouldn’t have to lift a single finger for anything. Still I knew that sulking wouldn’t help, so I forced myself to get down to work. Upon completion, I was beaming with pride that I managed to fix my furniture by myself.

Fast forward two years and I can now easily whip up a three-course meal for a party of 10…. Melbourne forced me to grow up and I did.

Fast forward two years and I can now easily whip up a three-course meal for a party of 10. Of course, this new knowledge came at the expense of two permanent scars on my hands.

I’m also so much more independent.  From the moment I arrived, my priorities instantly changed – it was all about surviving and surviving on my own. I also learned that life is not a fairy tale. If I want something, I have to work hard to make it happen.

Melbourne forced me to grow up and I did.

I never thought I would be able to use a hammer and screwdriver to assemble furniture. I never thought I would be able to bake and cook recipes. I never thought I would be able to wash my own clothes and clean the toilet.

I never thought I would be able to work in a paid productions project. And I never thought I would see my writings published. But I’ve done all that by myself and I can tell you, it’s so much more satisfying that way.

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