Now in his final year, Chowlen reflects on his experience studying at the university

“Why a Bachelor of Agriculture?”

That question has been vexing me ever since I decided to study this course. Truthfully, I was quite surprised that I made this decision, even now.

It all began after the release of the Malaysian Certificate of Education (SPM) results in 2012. Unbelievably, I got 9A+! Everyone congratulated me and asked me which field I was going to major in.

“Was it going to be medicine, engineering or law?”

I answered engineering ambivalently then. It was normal for people from my home country to consider these courses, but after having a conversation with my brother and learning about the job opportunities in agriculture – I decided to study agriculture instead.

I told my parents about my decision and surprisingly, they supported my choice. I was glad that I have such thoughtful and supportive parents. The next question was, which university?

As I am a sponsored student of the Malaysian Public Services Department (JPA), I had to get into one of the top 50 universities around the world as listed by the JPA to meet the conditions of my scholarship. It so happened that the University of Melbourne was on the list and it was the top university in Australia. Apart from that, I have heard about Melbourne being one of the most liveable cities in the world. Studying in Australia has been my dream and I never thought I would have a chance of achieving this without my scholarship.

At the University of Melbourne Parkville campus

Studying in Melbourne has definitely been challenging, but it has also been very exciting. As this was the first time I have left the comforts of my home to an unknown place alone, I was naturally worried and scared in the beginning. During the transition period, I had to be independent in almost everything (i.e., cooking, buying supplies, doing chores, etc.). Luckily, I met a group of friends and university staff members who were friendly and helpful, and they assisted me a lot in my transition.

An outing with my friends to Sovereign Hill, Ballarat

Most of my classmates were also domestic students, and I initially experienced cultural shock and faced difficulties in listening and understanding their accent and pronunciation. As time passed, I conquered the language barrier by trying to speak to them more frequently.

After staying in Australia for some time, I have grown to love this place tremendously. I love the cultural diversity in Melbourne and the kind and friendly people I’ve had the opportunity to meet.

A site visit with my classmate to Royal Park for an irrigation and water management subject

So far, I have really enjoyed studying my course because it is practical, interesting, and intriguing. The course structure is well planned and covered a lot of aspects related to agriculture such as irrigation and water management, crop production, livestock management, agribusiness, geology, climate and much more.

I always get excited for excursions to the farm at the Dookie campus, because they provide a realistic approach to what I have learned. During winter break, I travelled to Dookie for intensive subjects and the most exciting part is I get to live at the university farm for several days.

An excursion to Dookie Dairy Farm. This dairy farm practices automatic milking system #AMS

Apart from studying, I joined the University of Melbourne Student Union International (UMSU International) to meet new people across the university. I was an International Student Ambassador (a volunteering program by UMSU International) in my first year, before being elected as an Activities Officer in my second year. I was involved in organising some of the biggest student-run events in the university such as the Night Market and Festival of Nations.

A group photo with the participants and volunteers at the end of Melbourne Adventure - one of the orientation events organised by UMSU International

I am currently in my final year, holding the position of Cultural and Social Vice President of UMSU International 2016/17. I’m so grateful that I made the decision to study here. It has been a great ride so far and I have never regretted my decision to study this course.

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