The girl stumbles out of the arrivals gate, hair disheveled and clothes a mess. She’s sweating even though the airport isn’t that warm. The luggage trolley she’s pushing feels horribly heavy with the weight of her entire life which she’s left behind back in her home country. It’s for her education, she understands that. It’s why she’s somehow squashed more than half her closet and room into two suitcases and a handbag two weeks after Australia announced that their borders will open internationally without travelers needing to quarantine.
The first night in Perth was tiring. From Wi-Fi connection issues and having virtually no way to contact anyone, the girl had nothing to do but cry herself to sleep. She’ll figure out the rest of her day tomorrow, and hopefully, it will be much better than today. Even so, she had trouble falling asleep with her mind constantly focused on the foreign noises emanating from the machinery around her. Morning couldn’t come any faster.
The next day, everything went a lot better. Her newly installed Australian SIM card finally worked and so did the Wi-Fi, miraculously. She could almost cry again out of happiness and relief. After gathering her emotions (and taking a shower), she felt much better. Today, she’d get to settling into her new accommodation and also contacting her lecturers to inform them of her arrival. She’ll be okay, she thinks.
Studying abroad is never easy, whether it’s for three months, six, two years or even four, the idea of it is daunting. From the legal matters to the settling in and getting used to a whole new place, being an international student is never easy. You’re plunged into a new environment, alone and without many people to turn to for help. If you’re lucky, you’d have a couple relatives already in the country or coming with you. If you’re not, then you’d have to navigate a new foreign place where you don’t know the tiniest things, like where the nearest supermarket is, or who to call for help.
Curtin University, at least, has the university support office – Curtin Connect and the Student Guild which are available to assist those who are lost and in need. Students who need help navigating the campus alone, and those who struggle with learning to live by themselves are able to turn to these support services for help. But it’s still incredibly difficult to settle in. It’s even harder when you’ve missed Orientation Week or happen to be in the middle of your studies when you transfer back to in-person learning. You miss out on meeting new students and friends and the wide array of club stands for you to visit.
Thankfully, it’s the age of social media and information is readily available on the Internet. While it may be hard to adjust at first, the numerous university events every month soon take up your schedule. The Guild Instagram frequently announces ongoing events and where to find them, not to mention the newsletter sent straight to your email when an event is going to happen. The university website also displays all of the active clubs and the contact information. Most clubs even have their own Facebook group and Instagram page which makes contacting them more accessible if you can’t find them physically on campus.
On the 25th of May, the International Student Committee arranged an International Students Welcome event. The icebreakers and stands available were perfect for socialising. Before you knew it, you’d have made a friend or two just by participating. It’s these events that bring students together and it’s always worth it to keep up with the events occurring on campus.