International students share their experiences

The arrival of international students after 21 months of international border measures is a long-awaited milestone for our ACU community, with many students making the journey to Australia since the reopening of borders in December 2021.

Claire and Olivia are two ACU international students who have arrived in the country in recent weeks and will study on campus in Semester 1 after close to two years of online study and constantly changing travel advice.

Claire, a second year Bachelor of Information Technology student, began her studies online from home in Vietnam before travelling to Sydney on 6 December as part of the first cohort of the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan.

When reflecting on her time studying online in 2021, Claire said, “Studying online during the pandemic was an interesting experience. I can’t deny there were some challenges due to differences in time zones, but my lecturers were always available to provide help when I needed it and the university gave me lots of advice on how to study effectively and manage any hurdles.

“My typical day of studying online normally started at around 5 or 6 in the morning. I often attended live lectures through Zoom and then tutorials and labs where I completed activities and worked with my peers.”

 Two female students stand in front of an orange sign that says ACU

After a year of online study, Claire said she was thrilled to be selected to travel to Sydney as part of the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan.

“It was the first time I travelled to a foreign country on my own, so I was a little afraid at first. However, I met some new friends on my flight, so I didn’t feel lonely.

“I’m extremely excited as I have lots of plans and goals to achieve while studying in Australia. I’m really looking forward to being on campus, meeting with my teachers and peers in person and experiencing learning on campus.” Claire said.

Like Claire, arriving in Australia to study on campus had been a long time coming for Bachelor of Nursing student Olivia. However, unlike Claire, who was able to study online from home, the practical nature of Olivia’s course meant she had to defer her studies until she was able to travel to Australia.

With border measures remaining in place for 2020 and much of 2021, Olivia shifted her focus towards completing her English language proficiency requirements and even spent time working as a cast member at Shanghai Disneyland.

 Female student with suitcases at airport holding balloons and soft toy

“After deferring my studies for two years, I was determined to arrive in Sydney as early as possible and get enrolled. I booked my own flight ticket and after changing my travel plans four times because of border policies, I finally flew from Shanghai to Sydney and arrived on 15 December,” Olivia said.

As a student studying overseas for the first time, Olivia said she felt a little nervous to start studying on campus but was looking forward to meeting new people and joining different clubs and associations.

“I have worked as a registered nurse in China for 12 years, so I am very much looking forward to finding the differences between Chinese and Western nursing and learning new skills,” Olivia said.

Our international students have had, and continue to have, their own unique experiences during the pandemic.

“The first few weeks of semester can be a big adjustment for many students – particularly if it’s their first time on campus or if they haven’t travelled to or studied in a foreign country before,” said Peter Freeman, Senior International Student Adviser.

“As staff we all play a part in making our international students feel welcome and offering them as much support as we can.

“We have a range of academic and social support services available to international students. If a student approaches you with a question you’re unsure about, please refer them to our team of International Student Advisers.”

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