Surviving Abroad

Pursuing knowledge and exploring Australia from a non-Australian perspective. An article for Muslims in Tech Melbourne.

Do not allow your heart to take pleasure with the praises of people, nor be saddened by their condemnation

– Imam Al Ghazali

The Australian Hopes and Dreams

As an international student studying in Australia, I was excited to undergo my course in Bachelor of Computer Science at a reputable university in Melbourne, as they are known for their balance of practical and theoretical approach for teaching. The excitement of gaining the knowledge for building cutting edge tech solutions and meeting other fellow aspiring Software Engineers.

Coming from a developing country, it is a privilege to learn about how the software industry innovates and the pace of adoption for newer technologies in a first-world country. It is something that I would love to bring back and hopefully accelerate the growth in tech for the community back home.

In terms of following the university course, it can be a little challenging if English is not your first language. Sophisticated grammar are being thrown on top of the tech jargons within the course can be a little tough to follow through during lectures and classes. Also, it can be a nerve-wrecking experience to have that “thinking pause in your own language” to convey a particular point or message in collaborative activities.

Essential check-list for international students

With all those challenges, it can be a little discouraging at first but with a particular mindset you’ll survive and settle right in. Talking to many individuals (not only to people within a similar situation), I’ve managed to gain different perspective of thinking.

The following are my “rule of thumb” or curated list on how us international students can strive to make an impact and make the most out of our time in university.

1. Allocate at least 30 minutes each day for learning things related to your courses

In university, there are usually times where you would listen to a lecture or participate in a tutorial session to fully understand what you’ve learnt during the week for a particular subject. One thing I’d like to highlight is the fact that no matter how well you’ve understood the material, it would all go to waste in you don’t revise.

Unless you’re blessed with photographic memory, it is hard for retain the knowledge and skills learnt if there were no revision. Whether it is a quick run on exercises for your math subjects, skimming your notes on computing theories and binge watching quick 3-10 minutes videos relating to the subject.

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Allocating at least 30 minutes of your day can be a HUGE lifesaver to help you recall the materials before the big days (final exams) at the end of the semester.

2. Exercise and jog while listening to audio books or podcast

Keeping your body fit and small exercises every day or two keeps you healthy from diseases. Also, it releases the chemicals that helps your brain process things to focus and to think better. In addition to that, at times it gets you tired enough to sleep earlier during the night (….Here’s to you night owls reading)

Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live in” – Jim Rohn

For exercising, jogging is my usual go to activity. Gets me out of the house, explore the environment and area where I live in, and appreciating the clean air. While it is a linear process, just like many exercises, it is a good way to dedicate those times to also listen to podcasts and audio books. This way, you can be fit and smart at the same time ????.

3. Step out of the comfort zone of your nationality clique

One of the most common things international students do when they get to the country is to find friends of similar nationality. This is a great starting point to settling in as well as a point of contact to prevent homesickness. But, I would recommend getting to know people locally as well as other nationalities (international students from different countries) to get to know more about their culture.

Coming to a different country where you will be studying in for at least 2-3 years, you have the opportunity to make connections with people from all over the globe, who may be your future business connection or business partner. Also, it is always an exciting opportunity to try out food recommendations from different countries

4. Explore events and venues that the city offers

Australia is filled with many active events where you can meet people of all kinds of interests. It is a good way to get the vibes of different areas and communities that exist in the city where you’re studying in. I personally find it as a good way to connect with people from my background and people who share the same kind of interests.

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There are also events related to career building and discussions related to your fields of study. This is where you can connect with people who works in a position you aspire to be in and learn a the perks, challenges and day-to-days of how your future role may be.

Events such as hackathons can be a fun activity to spend on a day and it is usually a fun way to meet new people as well as shine your hidden idea/startup building skills. Events like these typically give out prizes for winners but you’ll usually end up scoring some swag or merch regardless if you don’t win. So, still a win-win.

6. Keep in touch with your people back home

Sure it can be exciting to be indulged in making the most of your time in a new country, doing all sorts of activities. But, it is also important to keep in touch with the people back home, such as your family and friends. Helps you cure homesickness and preserve authentic connection to home.

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Closing Remarks

That being said, these methods or check-list has worked for me personally though there will always be better ways or guide that fit other individuals better.

I just hope that international students will make the most of their time in overseas. Enriching their cultural knowledge and exploring the landmarks and wonderful sights in the area, on top of studies.

Cloud & DevOps

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