When South Korea’s Sohui and her brothers wanted to study abroad, they all agreed on Adelaide with Sohui’s brothers coming here first. Sohui says she was fortunate to have her brothers already here because they already had a house where they could all live together. While her brothers studied nursing, Sohui chose to learn in a different health field with a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) at the University of South Australia. We spoke with Sohui about her experiences studying in Adelaide
I came here because my two brothers were already here. My mum gave us the choice of studying in the United States, or the United Kingdom or Australia. I wanted Australia as it’s much safer compared to the USA.
We like Adelaide because the weather and scenery are really good. It’s much warmer than in South Korea. Adelaide is a small city compared to other cities in Australia. It’s not too noisy and not too crowded. I don’t really enjoy a crowded environment.
I live with my two brothers while our parents are still back in South Korea. It’s not bad living with my brothers. My brothers are quite sweet, and they care about me. They always ask if I need any help and support me with whatever I do, which is nice.
Many of my friends came here by themselves and had to find places to live. I was fortunate to have my brothers here first. They had a house and a car. I didn’t have the pressure to find a place for myself.
My mum is a nurse, and both my brothers are now working as nurses in South Australia. My family asked me if I would do a nursing course. But I said no because I don’t think the shift work that comes with nursing would suit my lifestyle.
I started looking at other courses I could do in Australia, and I found physiotherapy has a broad range. It’s a good job where you can help people recover from things like strokes and car accidents. You can help them get back to their usual life.
I really want to do a hands-on job where I can talk and communicate with people. I knew I wanted to work as a health professional and have an impact on people’s lives.
In the second year of my studies, we started to learn more about being a physio with an emphasis on communication skills. We’ve learned how to approach patients and what kinds of questions to ask them. Also, how we can explain to people without using our medical jargon. We need to use more patient-friendly language. Our tutors have really helped with examples of how to explain things.
I had some challenges with the program and the courses, which were quite hard. They helped me with these challenges. My teachers encouraged me to do group work, and my tutors and colleagues all work together with strategies to help.
The university also has student support services where students can get help with study plans and advice to overcome any struggles with their studies. They gave me advice on how to overcome my struggles.
I’ve done a lot of placements. In second year, they were just observational, so not hands-on. But in third and fourth years, I had placements working in two of Adelaide’s biggest public hospitals, Flinders Medical Centre and the Lyell McEwin Hospital. I worked in areas like rehabilitation, acute illness and stroke patients.
At first, it was hard to grasp what to do. I wasn’t expecting to have to do so much, but they push students to do the actual jobs and learn. At first, I was scared to treat the patient, but there are many supervisors who give us cues and instructions on what to do. They help us if we struggle. They encourage us to keep going. I learnt a lot through placements.
I found my second placement easier because I think I got used to the work and adapted quickly. I’ve learned how to prioritise and structure my assessments. And how to communicate and build a good rapport with my patients.
I already have a job working in an aged care facility which I’ll start after I graduate. It’s a really big company where I can build up my experience and go anywhere. I found the company on a jobs website and sent in my resume and cover letter. The invited me for an interview and were really sweet and kind. My brothers are citizens now, so my plan is to stay here and apply for permanent residency. Before, I would need six months to a year of full-time work. But now they changed it to three months, so it’s easier.**
Don’t be afraid to approach people. Adelaide people are really nice and sweet. You should try to make friends so your life can go forward, and you can go to lots of places together. Even if you struggle with English, you should talk to people. Do not be afraid to go out there and talk with the local people.
Also, make sure you listen carefully and focus on your university studies because it can be hard to catch up if you get off track. Keep the balance between enjoying life and keeping up with your university work at the same time.
*Sohui might be eligible to apply for permanent residency with her nominated skilled occupation of physiotherapist. Learn more about applying for permanent residency via a state nominated skilled migration visa in South Australia as an international student.