The Victorian Government formally welcomed international high school students last Wednesday at its International Student Welcome Reception, an event attended by Victorian Government schools, independent schools and Catholic schools.
The event was a special occasion for all students in attendance who were excited for what would lie ahead in the new school year.
Following opening speeches from Governor of Victoria, Her Excellency the Honorable Linda Dessau AC, Parlimentary Secretary to the Deputy Premier Judith Graley and Victorian International School Students Awards Winner, Ying (Winnie) Li — who each encouraged international students to create lifelong friendships in Australia, participate in their communities and contribute to Melbourne’s rich melting pot society — we spoke with some of the excited and enthusiastic teenagers at the event.
Jessica Xiyang Yan, a Year 8 student from Koonung Secondary College, said that she loves being in Melbourne. Hailing from from Beijing, China, she particularly loves Melbourne’s weather where it is free of pollution. But adjusting to Melbourne’s weather was one thing; adjusting to language was another.
“Apart from learning English, we have to learn another second language at my school which is either French or Japanese,” she said.
Though it has been a struggle to learn both English and French at the same time, Jessica is fortunate to have help from her friends and teachers who’ve made her feel more comfortable and confident at school.
Vietnamese student, Sharon La, meanwhile found it difficult early making new friends, something many international students can relate to.
“It was hard [to make friends] at first, but I feel better now and I [have become] more confident,” she said.
Sharon, who loves studying Mathematics at school, mentioned that her favourite thing about Melbourne was its “beautiful people”.
Erwin Diesta, a Year 10 student who has lived in Melbourne for two years, migrated from the Philippines to study here.
Like Jessica and Sharon, adjusting to a new culture was also difficult at first but he has since made new friends and built a support network that has helped him settle.
“I love my school because everyone is very friendly and the teachers are really supportive as they encourage students to do their best,” he said.
With his sights set on one day becoming a doctor, Erwin also mentions that he loves the food culture in Melbourne and appreciates its architecture.
For Iranian secondary student Kiarash Nikoo he is excited for the opportunities that await him. He has only been in Melbourne for three months.
“I think that there are a lot of opportunities that everyone can achieve here such as in the field of sports, mathematics and physics and in my country we don’t have much of these opportunities,” he said.
Unlike some of his fellow students, however, Kiarash is fortunate to have arrived in Melbourne with his mother. Keeping a positive attitude has also helped him adjust to life away from home.
“It was hard at first to adapt here but my friends at school are supportive [and] friendly, especially the local students,” he said.
Having an interest in software engineering, Kiarash believes that Melbourne could be the best place for him to achieve his dream to become an electrical engineer in the future.
These students and more have a huge journey ahead of them, one that is atypical to many international students who come from overseas only to go straight into university or TAFE-based learning. But based on the hopeful attitudes of the young students in attendance that morning, it looks like their journeys will be an incredible one.