Aileen may be a long way from home, but she's making the most of her time in Australia

When I set foot in Melbourne a year ago, I felt excited and worried. Before I came to Australia, I had an ambition that I would further my food science knowledge and learn new skills from world-class researchers so that I could become a top researcher in the future. However, when I arrived at the university, I was nervous and I wasn’t sure whether I could fit in my studies, while adapting to life in a different city.

Aileen's first time on campus
My first time on campus

Luckily, I was not alone. In my orientation and lectures, I met other students who were also in a similar situation. The University of Melbourne is an international university and students come from all over the world to study here. Through my studies, I have made friends with people from diverse backgrounds.

I’ve met a Chinese girl who was good at cooking and would seek delicious food with me on the weekends. I’ve met an Indonesian girl who was studying the Master of Food Packaging and Innovation and we would discuss study questions together. I’ve also met an Iranian woman who had worked in the food packaging industry for more than 10 years. I like talking to them and I learn a lot from them. Through study groups with my friends and asking questions to lecturers, I have been able to learn and absorb new knowledge quickly.

By studying at a world-class research university, I’ve had the opportunity to attend public lectures by famous researchers. It was inspiring to hear their passion to change the world and I learned that one should not conduct research only for interest, but also for the benefit of mankind. From these talks, I developed another goal to make a better world.

Outside of my studies, I’m also part of the Graduate Agriculture and Food Society (GAFS). GAFS is a student club at the university for postgraduate students studying agriculture and food science. As a member of the committee, I work with students from diverse backgrounds to help organise social and education events for our members. It can be challenging at times to work as a team, but we always worked together to resolve any issues.

Meet the GAFS commitee
Meet the GAFS committee 

I come from a big city in China and every time I walk around Melbourne, I am surprised that nature could be so close to the city. I like jogging at Royal Park while listening to the birds singing, walking around the Royal Botanic Gardens and viewing different plants, and walking along St Kilda beach and watching the sunset. I have also visited many national parks in Australia and the sceneries were spectacular. These have all been unique experiences for me and I appreciate every moment that I come into contact with nature as this is difficult to find in my hometown.

City from the grassland
Melbourne CBD from the grassland

Although I was nervous about moving to a different country, I've fully embraced this difference and appreciated the opportunity. I have been able to meet new people, experience a different culture and learn from different researchers. By embracing the difference, it has made my time in Australia precious and unique.

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