HOME can be more than just an address or a place to live for international students. Trinity College Foundation Studies students Janine Foo and Vivian Ng speak with different students and ask how they personalise their rooms to cope with study abroad.
When international students aren’t going out and exploring Melbourne, most of their time is spent at home studying and completing homework or assignments. And with so much time spent at home, it’s pretty important for all students to add a personal touch to their rooms and to make themselves feel perfectly comfortable at home.
Home, after all, is where you should feel safe. Yet for some international students, their rooms can also function as a means to cope with homesickness.
Darshan, a Taiwanese student, says he keeps toy gifts from his high school friends to remind him of the times he had in school.
“I keep these two toys from my high school classmates,” Darshan said. “The white ball is made by one of them with paper clay. They remind me of the fun and hardship we used to go through together.”
Indonesian student, Mario, meanwhile looks beyond any feelings of homesickness by including inspirational motifs in his room. The airplane model that sits on his desk, he says, reminds him to carry on working hard towards his dream of one day owning his own private jet plane.
As necessary as it is to have reminders of home for those feeling alienated from a culture that isn’t theirs, students of course are also making sure their rooms are designed to be functional as well. If you’re spending a lot of time at home comfort and space is conducive to a better and productive you as Indonesian student Ivan found out.
“I rearranged the furniture in my apartment to create a more spacious and tidy living area. I think space is quite important because by having lots of space and a tidy room, your mind will be more peaceful and it will thus bring a positive influence on your studies,” Ivan said.
Chinese student Elisabeth also agrees. Living in a small student apartment with just a bed and a small study area, Elisabeth decided to instead turn her small study space into a comfortable spot to lounge in.
“I created a little cosy corner for myself where I can relax after a tiring day at school,” Elisabeth said.
“I basically just laid a soft rug on the floor, placed a cupcake beanbag on it, and filled the rest of the space with soft toys and cushions. I also have an incense diffuser in my room so it’ll always smell of sweet vanilla or refreshing lemon.”
Singaporean student, Miao Juan went one step further. For her, making her room comfortable meant livening up the colours for a personal flare.
“I added some blue and some wood texture to my apartment by getting a wooden drawer chest, a wooden pencil holder and a small wooden drawer box. I like my accessory display area because I have a really pretty jewellery stand and that area looks the most aesthetically pleasing to my eyes,” Miao Juan said.
“I will suggest that international students get little decorative items like plants or pretty lightnings. It brings more life to the room.”
There are plenty of other ways for students to make the most of their rooms. Nerida Hutchison, Manager of Edith Head Hall, Trinity College Foundation Studies’ residential accommodation, suggests students print and display photos of any good moments they may have had during their studies abroad.
Similar to how a student might keep track of their studies, it is equally important to make sure that they have documented the fun things they have done as well.
In what ways do you liven up your home to help you cope during your time overseas? Do you display personal reminders of your “true” home away from Australia? Do you try and match your room to your personality? What about inspirational designs and displays that help you move forward in life? 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.