Debunking myths about Australia and coming to terms with the country’s cost of living were ways newly arrived international students spent their first few days in Bendigo.
La Trobe University today welcomed 12 new international students who will spend as long as four years studying at the regional campus.
Alexander Linné, 23, has left behind his native Sweden for six months of urban planning studies in Bendigo.
He described the city as similar in size and population to his hometown Malmo, but was disappointed the weather was cold on his arrival. Europeans typically associated Australia with sunshine, he said.
Used to the snug winter fashion and efficient insulation of Scandinavia, Mr Linné was also perturbed to see Bendigonian men wearing shorts in temperatures as low as five degrees.
“Hopefully it gets hot soon,” he said.
The weather was not the only surprising aspect about living in Australia for the cohort. Filipino man Justin See is used to the loud, crowded streets of Manila, a city with a population almost as large as Australia’s.
“Here, when I leave my house, I don’t see people or cars,” Mr See said, with a laugh.
The 29-year-old plans on living in Bendigo for the next four years while working on a thesis about the human suffering that natural disasters caused in his homeland. His wife has also made the move from the Philippines.
Lancaster University students Rachel Doughty and Hanna Downing, along with their countrywoman Kerry Bianchi, were part of orientation activities at La Trobe on Monday.
It was the cost of living in Australia that had made the biggest impression on the young women, particularly the price of alcoholic drinks.
A pint of cider in an Australian pub could set you back $9.50, compared to just P3 (AUD $6) at a British establishment, Ms Bianchi said.
“Just normal things like beans and pasta are so expensive,” Ms Downing added.
Mr Linné, and fellow Swede Mabel Lau, both elected to live in shared accommodation off-campus because it was a more affordable option than college life.
But it was a price the students were willing to pay in exchange for experiences only Australia could offer.
The English students spent the past two weeks getting to know their new country, spotting koalas on a road trip to the Great Ocean Road and learning the basics of Australian Rules football on the beaches of Lorne.
“Everyone is laid back. It feels like no-one has an office job,” Ms Downing said.
The Bendigo student experience was a unique one, according to Bendigo International Students Club president Tejas Deshmukh.
The community planning and development student, from India, believed Bendigo-based students were more likely to make in-roads into their host community because they did not have the home comforts available in the capital cities.
“If I was staying in Melbourne, I’d be more connected to people from my own country,” he said.
The international student orientation program included a public safety seminar with Bendigo police and a scavenger hunt around the Bendigo CBD.