On choosing Melbourne, Australia, to study


I have always been sure that I’d go studying in Australia. Or to be more exact, I have always known that I’d go to the University of Melbourne.

I was in Junior High when my older sister went to Melbourne to pursue further studies. Since then, I was absolutely sure that I would follow her path – just because, you know, we attended the same international school (it’s IPEKA International Christian School, Jakarta, on which uses New South Wales curriculum), we took the same subjects (or actually, in the end I took the subjects on which my sister had chosen years earlier), and my parents had hinted for me to do so.

Nor that I had any objection.

Most of my friends dream to study in the States. Not me. I have always been that little girl not wanting to go to the States because of its long flight. Somehow, in living the American dream, I have raised a white flag way before I entered the battle.

I graduated from Senior High School in December 2009 and applied only to two universities: the University of Melbourne and Monash University. By the following March, I was walking down the streets of Melbourne, being one of those international students who has traveled 1,000 miles from home, spoken a different mother-tongue language, and eaten rice for as long as life itself.

The first few months were not exactly what I expected. There were a lot of lessons to be learned, starting from living independently, managing your own studies, and socialising and playing hard at the same time. Speaking in English full time was hard. Listening to Australians with their thick Australian accents were even harder. But I never did once regret my decision in studying there. If I was given the chance to choose again, I would still choose Melbourne.

Here are some reasons why I choose Melbourne:

1. Being independent

This is one of the universal lessons learned when you study overseas. There are no longer comforts of being at home, pampered with parents who manage everything for you, whenever you ask for it. Studying overseas means doing your own laundry, cooking your own food, cleaning your own apartment, and taking care of yourself. These are the skills, I believe, that we all need to master. Personally, I wouldn’t acquire all these by living with my parents.

2. Good university ranking

University of Melbourne is ranked 28th in the global university ranking. For Psychology (one of the majors I studied), it’s ranked 7th. Other universities, such as Monash, RMIT, UNSW, and UTS are also great universities whose names people know around the world. I have to say, being the Asian that I am, I still can’t resist the temptation of getting into universities with good names, and hence…

3. The most livable city in the world

For students, Melbourne resembles a little bit like heaven. It has good public transport, a lot of historical sites, cultural values, and exotic lifestyles to venture. For coffee lovers, it’s even better because Melbourne is home to some of the best cafes in the world. Plus, its multicultural status makes Melbourne rich in its varieties of food – including those Soto Betawi and Martabak to satisfy your cravings. Your social network will also expand as you get to know people from all over the world. Some of my best friends are from Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. And with the existence of yearly Australian Open, international exhibitions, and Broadway shows, what more can you ask?

4. It’s far/near enough from home

It has been agreed that after university, we will become young adults who work for a living and then meet our soulmates and start families of our own. This means university life may be one of the last moments when we can truly be our parents’ sons and daughters. Six-hour flight makes it easier to go home and spend our holidays with our families back home. But yes, it’s still not that near (like Singapore, for instance), that our daily activities can be monitored heavily by our parents (and we are forced to go home every other weekend, ending up with no time for our friends, for instance). True story.

Should there be a good enough reason to choose a place for overseas study? Maybe they should, maybe they shouldn’t. But one thing I know for sure in choosing a university: let whatever your decision be, you’ll not live to regret it. Choosing university means a minimum of three to four years of living there. Look for options, ask for opinions, and choose wisely.

For me, my number fifth and ultimate reason for choosing Melbourne is because my sister is there, and living with your family member does make a difference.


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