An Air Angel in Adelaide
Those are some names people in Manila used to call me. I was a radio presenter, events host, and pre-school teacher. But I had to leave all of that behind to be in Adelaide. Eight months ago, I left a familiar life in Manila to start a new chapter in a foreign land. The year 2011, for me, was marked with a milestone and a life-changing decision – going back to uni at 30 years old. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. I had to swallow my pride, leave my family and friends, resign from teaching and radio presenting – the two jobs I cherished with all my heart and was passionate about – in order to pursue a postgraduate certificate course at Flinders University. I would often find myself staring at my dream notebook filled with pictures and inspirational notes and calm the nerves by saying, ‘keep your eyes on the goal’. It actually feels just like yesterday when I had to take that long flight from Manila to Australia. Good thing I did not have to do that alone – my-then-boyfriend-now-husband was there to accompany me and help me settle in with ease.
When uni finally commenced in February, I was surprised at the number of international students in my course. That in itself was comforting – knowing that I was not on this journey alone. So to all the international students who are just starting their uni life, I would like to say ‘Welcome to Adelaide!’ I know you will have the best days of your life here. I would also like to share some tips that you may find useful during your stay in Adelaide:
(1) Give yourself time to become familiar with your environment by joining the campus tours and local tours.
(2) Familiarise yourself with the public transport system. I find that Google maps is especially helpful in giving the bus schedules and the best ways to get to and from a place.
(3) Remember the important numbers. If possible, save it on your mobile or keep a list on your keychain or wallet.
(4) Keep in touch with family and friends. If you don’t have enough credits on your mobile, there is always facebook and skype for that.
(5) Try to get work experience a few months into the course or program to give yourself time to get used to the workload and demands of uni. Once you’re comfortable with everything and you are confident that you will be able to balance work, uni and your social life, then by all means go for it. If you don’t really need paid work, you can always apply for volunteer work –this is what I have been doing since February 2012.
(6) Be willing to start from the ground up. It may come as a big blow to one’s self esteem but they conduct things differently here in Australia. We need to abide by the state and government rules and that means we need the qualification (cert III or cert IV) for many professional jobs. We can either get our skills recognised or look for a job that will recognize our work experience or provide us with the proper training for it.
(7) Always smile and be ready to communicate with others. There are lots of other international students here and just like you, they are going through the rollercoaster of emotions of adjusting to a new environment and a new life.
(8) Make friends. Just because you are starting uni does not mean your social life has to suffer. Devote the weekends to doing activities with your friends. It can be as simple as eating out, enjoying simple walks or watching movies.
(9) Budget your time well. The due dates and deadlines for assignments are normally outlined in the topic information books or online. Take note of these and try to plan out your schedule to meet all the requirements in the required time. This will reduce the hassle of having to cram for it and save you a lot of sleepless nights.
(10) When in doubt, just ask. You can ask classmates, people in charge of the international students in your unis or institutions or you can ask other friends. There will always be people willing and ready to help you.
Before you know it, the term will be over so make the most of each day!