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The reality of Melbourne, according to international students

Trinity College Foundation Studies

Fri Feb 10 2017


Reality hurts sometimes. Although Melbourne can be paradise for many international students, others might find Melbourne’s lifestyle and qualities to be underwhelming.

Speaking to several international students from Trinity College Foundation Studies, we measured students’ expectations of Melbourne before arrival and what they were suddenly met with once they settled here for overseas study.

Food & drinks

Before arriving, students knew to expect an innumerable amount of restaurants and cafes in Melbourne and that various cuisines could be easily found. What they didn’t expect to encounter, however, was the cost which students felt were too pricey.

Tasting Melbourne’s world-famous coffee was a benefit however for those we spoke too, with one Thai student going so far as to claim that “Melbourne coffee [was] the best coffee [he’d] ever tasted”. The convenience of buying food was also observed as a positive for many students.

Public transportation

Melbourne’s public transport was expected to be convenient and of relatively low charge but once they began using it, students quickly realised that this was not the case. Others remarked that transportation facilities were quite old and could be better improved.

Still, given the accessibility of using public transportation to get around, students still find  they think that travelling around Melbourne using public transport is convenient!

Student life 

Most international students choose Melbourne to study because of its reputation. Students are told that Melbourne’s environment is safe and conducive to good learning, that the city is neither noisy nor silent and that it would also be easy to make new friends.

These expectations were all realised once they got here although not every student’s experience in Melbourne has been as fruitful. One Malaysian student we spoke to, who was raised in Singapore, mentioned that sometimes it was difficult to befriend  others from different regions as “some students only [spoke] in their own languages”.


Students we spoke with hoped that Melbourne would offer diverse sites to see and interesting activities but the reality for them was that Melbourne didn’t offer much in the way of tourist attractions.

Noting that Melbourne mostly had art museums and galleries to visit, those that weren’t interested in the arts generally found Melbourne to be quite boring. Others meanwhile acknowledged that while some of the more natural wonders of Victoria existed outside of Melbourne, these were located too far away and were of inconvenience.

One Chinese student commented that he only traveled to these sites when his parents came to visit as most of Victoria’s typical tourist destinations were too far for him to visit on his own.

These were several expectations of a group of international students who are living in Melbourne. Some of their predictions did indeed become realities! Now how about you? What did you expect to experience in Melbourne? Did you change your mind after your visit? Leave a comment 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