International students welcomed to Bendigo

MORE than 50 international students from La Trobe came together on Friday for a fair dinkum breakfast at Lake Weeroona, followed by a tour of Bendigo. 

Tanzanian student Sophia Swai, 41, said she came to Australia so she could learn skills that would help her community back home. 

"I want to improve the quality of life in my country," she said. 

"We need to do this through education at respected universities, and using that knowledge back home."

Ms Swai says her experience of Australia so far has been exceptional. 

"When I arrived in Melbourne, I didn't have a Myki card," she said. 

"I was speaking to another passenger at the tram stop.

"He gave me his wife's myki card because there was nowhere I could get one from. I did not know I needed one. 

"He was meant to get off a few stops before Southern Cross, he stayed on three more stops until I got to my stop and then he escorted me to get a ticket.

"It was so lovely."

Rushabh Shethia, from India, is an international student host. 

"When I first came to Bendigo in 2009, I had a student host who helped me to adjust to Australia," he said.

"I wanted to repay that favour."

Mr Shetbia said Bendigo had taught him to relax.

"In my hometown, Mumbai, there is a big focus on your career," he said. 

"Bendigo has shown me how to chill out and take time out to connect with other people."

In 2013, more than 95,000 international students commenced study at a university in Australia.

The most common nationality of students is Chinese, which continues to be the largest contributor to the international student population in Australia. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says most international students study in New South Wales.

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