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Saturday, January 29, 2022

This int’l student is eager to return to the University of Melbourne

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Australia has long been a leading study abroad destination for international students, with many choosing to study in Melbourne. It is not surprising, given that the Land Down Under is home to many of the best institutions in the world such as the University of Melbourne.

However, the pandemic and the state’s strict border restrictions have not been kind to the many international students who have been anxiously awaiting return to Australia. On November 29, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that his country would delay the reopening of its borders from December 1 to 15.

Amrit Korob, a 25-year-old Sri Lankan student from the University of Melbourne, can testify that it has been an emotional journey of ups and downs to keep abreast of updates regarding the easing of Australian border restrictions. His decision to study at a prestigious university in Melbourne pushed him to work hard, but doing so remotely was a draining process. We walk him into more on this topic below:

Where does your interest in information technology come from?

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I have always been passionate about technology from an early age which prompted me to pursue my undergraduate studies in Information Technology. There, I have to focus on the larger business side of all things IT related.

Thus, after two years working in the IT industry, I felt it was time to expand my knowledge and experience a foreign culture by pursuing a postgraduate degree.

What prompted you to study at Melbourne and the University of Melbourne?

It was the first option that came to mind. Firstly, I loved the diversity, culture, lifestyle and authenticity of all the Australian cities that underpinned my decision.

Secondly, I had a lot of family and friends who supported my choice to study in Melbourne. I also had a few friends who attended the University of Melbourne and got to know how much the institution is respected.

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The fact that it was so hard to get into the business made me work hard to ensure I had a solid application.

Many international students choose to study in Melbourne, which has top educational institutions such as the University of Melbourne. Source: Willian West / AFP

What challenges did you face with your choice to study in Melbourne?

I would say the whole process of studying online is mentally and physically draining. When it comes to time difference, looking at the screen all day, group meetings via Zoom, and completely zero physical interactions is tough.

I remember having a certification training that was done at 3:30 in the morning which is pretty crazy.

While these negatives are in place, I have always tried to stay positive as my studies progress by working with colleagues who have gone through the same thing.

In order to overcome these challenges, I made sure to make a weekly plan with all the times of lectures and tutorials to local time. This weekly plan also consists of relevant items for the week such as readings, watching lecture videos, and preparing for tutorials.

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Plus, I took note of my semester deadlines which helped me get an overall view of what I was up against. I recommend “Imaginary“For all students because it’s really helpful for taking notes, creating weekly/monthly plans, and keeping a calendar of all your deadlines.

Another way I overcame the challenge of not being able to study in Melbourne was by seizing every ‘online’ opportunity with open arms. This can be through additional seminars, guest lectures, free uni programs/certificates, and simple things like speaking during classes to get more involved.

What do you think should be done more to help support international students stranded outside Australia?

Australia recently announced the extension of a certain amount of work visas and flexibility when it comes to including remote students in visa applications. This is definitely a step in the right direction but I also feel there is a lot the country can do for international students.

It is essential to show sympathy and understanding to those who have been stuck abroad for nearly two years. Some temporary visa holders haven’t seen their families for a long time either.

Australia is understood to protect its citizens and national interests, but students and visa holders are a vital part of the country’s culture and diversity. The steps governments have taken with the new COVID-19 variant prioritize safety, but we all know there will be many different variants in the future.

We must learn to live with the virus. We are all willing to do our part – vaccinate, wear masks, social distance, and sanitize regularly.

Have you received any support from the University of Melbourne?

Yes, they provide maximum support especially during the early stages of the transition to distance learning. They provide us with the tools to set up a Zoom Pro account as well.

The lecturers and teachers were also very understanding and showed empathy by supporting our learning in the best possible way. This was done through e-learning materials and additional support sessions.

What advice would you give to international students who want to study in Melbourne or Australia?

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I still say Melbourne is still on my top list of my choice of study destinations. Although there may be many false promises and hopes, I suppose the country will change its attitude towards students and skilled immigrants as they realize how important they are to Australian society and society.

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