International Student, My Story

Shabnam Ahmed – Former International Student

Shabnam Ahmed is from Bangalore, India. She completed her Masters in Accounting from Macquarie University. Her goal was to complete my higher education and work in a client-facing role – something that allows interaction with people.
How was your first day in the new country?
Initial feelings were that of excitement. I felt like I was on an adventure. But I landed in Sydney during peak winter and the cold was something I wasn’t used to. So the weather, the culture shock, how expensive everything was, missing my family and friends left me a bit home sick for the first few weeks. But then as we got into the semester, I got involved in studies, started exploring the university, made new friends, tried looking for a job and just managing additional responsibilities got me into the groove of things.
What was the one thing that you grew used to in the new country within the first six months?
I used to love my Chai, but moving to AUS converted me into an avid coffee drinker. I must be honest, when I went to order coffee for the first time I was embarrassed for not knowing what a flat white, espresso, long black, latte etc was. The only thing I knew was cappuccino. Thankfully, i grew to love coffee and can’t do without my morning cuppa now. I also started working out regularly. I never did this in India. I found that it helped me concentrate on my studies better and maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle.
Were you homesick? How did you handle it? 
Yes, I was definitely home sick for the first month. My advise, from personal experience is to busy yourself with studies and work. It is only when I had a lot of free time at hand is when I missed my family and my social circle. However between attending university, going to work, going to the gym, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and doing assignments, self study, group work and exploring this beautiful city (Sydney) I found that I had little time to be home sick. Not only did this help me get used to my new life here but also helped me focus on my education and work.
What did you do to stay motivated and optimistic about your studies and future?
I tried to connect with new people. This included my peers and fellow students, staff at the university and anyone who could help me get closer to my goal. No doubt it is very difficult to be positive all the time about your future. But I find that looking at the big picture while not forgetting to celebrate smaller achievements helps me stay motivated. For example: My goal was to get a full time role that pays a minimum 60k P.A. salary or above upon graduating. I concentrated on getting internships, being part of student groups and clubs, building my professional network, being more confident in my inter personal and social skills, being active on linkdin and getting a casual job in a related field. I find that these small steps can pave way for the bigger goal.
If you could go back in time to the first day abroad, what advice would you give yourself? 
Have a can-do attitude and approach new experiences with a sense of adventure. Don’t be disheartened if your plan don’t go according to what you had predicted. If you persevere and are honest in your effort, I can tell you that everything will work out better than you expected. Attend events, be involved in campus activities and make sure you are known and seen doing lots of good work in your faculty / cohort. This way, when an opportunity arises people will remember you and recommend you.
In three-four lines, provide a suggestion/advice to the future international students. 
Get out of your comfort zone, don’t loose sight of your purpose for being here, make friends with people form other countries, be more open minded!
If you would like to share your story with Yaarmate, please feel free to email us at yaarmate.com@gmail.com.
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Yaarmate
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