Melbourne – it’s a city that serves some of the world’s best coffee, promises exquisite brunches and offers its visitors a comfortable environment to live in. But before you can begin to take in all the delights this city has to offer, your first experience of Melbourne after landing in the city for the first time may sound a lot like Ankita’s.
“I was tired as hell and roaming from one side of the airport to another to gather information… Also, I wanted to make a call to my pick-up driver since my flight was delayed but I had no connection,” the La Trobe University student said.
The Indian international student, who came to Melbourne to pursue a Masters in Business Intelligence felt lost until she came across the Student Welcome Desk at Melbourne Airport, a service dedicated to helping students like her resolve their problems.
Located by the doorstep of the International Arrivals Hall, the Desk’s team is comprised primarily of a diverse group of international student staff adorned in a sky-blue t-shirt and white cap. New students unsure about what to do, who to see or where to go can rest assured that their problems will be addressed by fellow students who’ve experienced the same daunting moments and concerns they have.
How does the Student Welcome Desk help me?
Offered at the Desk to all new students is the Student Welcome Pack, a free gift pack which contains useful information regarding public transport, support services, accommodation, events in Melbourne and all the things you need to start a new chapter in your life.
This includes a Vodafone SIM Card, which students can easily install the moment they arrive in Melbourne. Student staff like Ritika Saxena can assist students with their SIM card installation, topping it up with $10 worth of free credit and 1GB of free data.
“I say take a breather and enjoy the welcome pack,” Ritika says.
Are you sure the staff aren’t trying to sell me something?
The services offered at the desk are free and the friendly staff are simply there to help new international students find their way.
“New students [can be] quite reserved and apprehensive at first. They may be afraid someone might be trying to scam them, or sell them a Welcome Pack,” Ritika said.
Rest assured the service is legitimate. The service is an initiative of the City of Melbourne, and is supported by Study Melbourne.
“I encourage all new students to be open and speak their mind when they see officers from the Student Welcome Desk Program as our sole ambition is to be able to assist you and make sure they receive a warm welcome and a friendly encounter,” assured Ritika.
But I’m worried about my English skills and the whole situation is too overwhelming – what should I do?
Because the Student Welcome Desk is largely staffed by international students, there’s a strong likelihood that someone at the desk may speak the same language as you.
Current staff hail from countries such as India, Philippines and Taiwan, where student staff member ChihYu is from.
“Don’t be shy to make friends. Embrace, explore and be open for the new country, new city and new culture,” advised ChihYu.
With student staff members from all walks of life, arriving students are encouraged to approach the Desk’s friendly faces and ask any questions they may have about starting their new life in Melbourne. After all, it wasn’t long ago that they were just arriving in Melbourne for the first time!
Asked which question she receives the most, ChihYu says they often relate to the whereabouts of their driver or taxi service.
That’s a relief, I guess I don’t have to do this on my own!
Not at all! It is natural to be afraid of what will happen now that you’ve stepped into a new phase in your life. But just because you’re here on your own doesn’t mean you have to go through it all by yourself.
“It is important that new students understand that while they have arrived on their own and are expected to be independent, help is always present. They just need to look hard enough for it,” Ritika said.
She, along with the rest of the Student Welcome Desk team, wants to let all newcomers to Melbourne know that help is always available.
“At the airport, this help wears blue welcome desk t-shirts and white caps!”
The Student Welcome Desk is located at Travellers’ Information Service, International Arrivals Hall, Ground Floor, Terminal 2, Melbourne Airport. When you exit customs into the Arrivals Hall, turn left and the Student Welcome Desk will be on your right hand side. Look for the ‘i’ sign.
The Student Welcome Desk is open 7am to midnight, seven days a week. Find out more at the Student Welcome Desk’s Official website