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(Special Feature) Life of an International Student

By Bai Faridah C. Abo – Mamintal
University of Sydney, NSW, Australia

Are you making plans to be an international student?

Here’s some personal tips for you to be properly on board.

First and foremost, you need to be properly guided by what and how you go about your would-be experiences. And for you to be able to adjust yourself with the new world you are entering into, you must keep in mind some important reminders from an insider’s perspective. I personally believe that to be international student, one must be strong physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. One must not be easily stricken by strong winds and the scorching heat of the sun, nor the falling of the freezing snows, and above all, the drowning water-level during heavy rains. In short, you know what it takes to be on that zone, where you run for your life all alone in a faraway land. Thus, the following characteristics an international student should possess can be of help to you.


One attribute that an international student should possess, must be physically strong. In the sense that, being away from your family and loved ones especially your home which had been a comfort zone, you need to do things all by yourself. Practically everything is all by yourself alone and no one else will do it for you except yourself.

So before you take-off for this plan, train yourself to certain stuff like buying grocery items to cooking your own foods with a lot of experimented menus because a lot of the menu you used to cook at home is not anymore viable, that is why most often you do experimental menu. And moving on with all these chores, you will also clean your own mess and throw your own rubbish in segregated plastic bags, to the gruesome washing of dishes and clothes, and cleaning as well apparently your room

Most of all, the struggle of taking public transportation which keeps you rushing every now and then for you to catch seems a disaster. And if you are not that physically fit to run, it will take you to wait for a quite more minutes for following buses or trains to arrive again. And the worst thing of it all with this new mode of transportation, is when you leave behind your OPAL card, (which is in the form of an ATM card where you are asked to tap on the card on a designated tapping machine on the bus entrance and exit and so with the train’s terminal entrance and exit before you can access for a ride) then you cannot ride the buses and trains, unless you will buy again a new card. Such thing as less of money transactions is one terrible experiences.

Similarly, an international student also shall be or must be emotionally stable and strong. Because whatever unwanted feelings you may encounter along the way of your study and stay in your university, you need to keep holding on. Or else you will come to the point of giving up with the different challenges that come along your way, or things you may be facing ahead.

I remember when I just arrived here in Sydney, after five days of attending our Winter class, one of our Filipino classmates was accidentally hit by a truck along the University Road due to non-observance of traffic rules, according to police reports. And just three days after such an incident, one Indonesian classmate die right before our very naked eyes due to food allergy. With these horrible incidents that happened right on our adjustment days in the place and on the people around and especially on the foods we take, this kind of encounter was for me a devastating experience if only I am not emotionally strong and stable, I would have fallen from weariness as well.

In addition to this, one should also be mentally strong, because it is hard to be in a university which is completely and absolutely having different way teaching and training learners. Being an international student, you have got to be used to reading piles of articles in a day. The assessment tasks are so strange with all this word limits, like one professor would require you to have three thousand words in your assessment submitted via university’s database system called turnitin, where it checks for possible plagiarism, if no proper referencing is made in your write-ups, which is not very much observable in our own universities.

Class reporting’s are always in PowerPoint, and soon after reporting is made, a feedback is given by the professor.

And with this new learning encounters, one should be resilient in order to have good tidings or else one will breakdown every now and then.

And above all, in almost all our desirable and undesirable escapades, I always stay strong and optimistic with the guidance and blessings of the almighty creator up above. Thus, being spiritually strong is also very important on top of everything. Because while you are in complete solitude, when there are times you have no one to talk to, and turn to when you miss everything and everybody at home, your only resort is to offer a prayer and talk to God asking Him for the help and guidance to keep your road fine and smooth in whatever obstacles that may come along.

Being away from home for quite some time is a gigantic crusade against one’s self. And during this time, you would try asking yourself, why am I risking my life with this experience when I can be just the same with all other people in my home country? Is this journey worth it? And with all what and what if’s are the never ending questions I would always ask myself of.

And I thank Allah for this wonderful world I am in as I endure it with so much love for God and even become closer to Him in asking for his infinite wisdom to triumph whatever shortcomings lying ahead.

With all the best prayers and the serenity of intentions, I shall go home with my testamur. Cheers to all!!


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