Taking the gigantic leap: studying in Melbourne

By Tauhidul Islam

Tauhidul Islam is a fresher at IH from Dhaka Bangladesh, who studies the Bachelor of Commerce (accounting and finance) at the University of Melbourne. He moved to Australia in 2016 and now lives at International House, just 10 minutes walk from university. This is a story about his settling in to Melbourne.

Going to a different country for undergraduate studies can be an overwhelming and intimidating experience. For me, it was an even bigger change, considering the fact that I had lived in the world’s most densely populated city all my life, and now I was to live in the world’s most liveable city for three years.

Well, rankings are always debatable, but having spent three weeks in this city, I have realised there is no doubt that Melbourne is one of the top cities in this planet.

I heard plenty of things about the weather, and I must admit, the sun is way too intense. In Bangladesh, the mercury soars to the higher thirties during summer, but it’s humid, so it doesn’t have the burning sensation that I experienced here. Being inexperienced about the sun, I forgot to put on my sunscreen for the first couple of days; and the result wasn’t very amusing, at least for me. Even then, the low level of pollution, the high presence of trees made the atmosphere pretty revitalising, especially when the sun stayed away.

A big change has been the level of self-service that I had to undertake. While I greatly appreciate the level of freedom in making my own choices, there were places where I felt lost, but there was no one to guide or inform me. This brings into account another issue; the difference in population density. To be honest, compared to Dhaka, Melbourne seemed like a deserted, desolate place initially.

2016 Holi festival

That said, when there were people around, they were always very nice and helpful; special mention must go to all my friends at IH, who never let me feel homesick for a moment. Over the past week or so, I have grown more accustomed to this self-service culture, and it feels great doing most things by myself!

Some mention should go to the food over here. I had heard a lot about how fellow Bangladeshis struggled with the food once they went to a different country, especially Western ones. But while food in IH (and in Melbourne, too) tastes a bit different from my homeland cuisine, I am happy to say that I have mostly adjusted to the food over here. In case I can’t, I have my stock of chips, peanuts and biscuits to dive into, or take the tram to the city for some great south Asian places. It seems that my calorie intake is actually higher over here, and the only thing helping me maintain my weight is the walks to and from uni.

One amazing aspect of the life here is the honesty and integrity of the people in Australia. In fact, I believe this is what makes the self-service culture so successful. It always becomes easier to enforce and implement laws if the people co-operate, and in my eyes, this is what makes Melbourne a safe and convenient abode for its residents.

International House runs an orientation week program for new students, to help them settle in to life at college and in Melbourne. View all the photographs from o-week, and others on our Facebook page.

Published on Tuesday 12 April 2016.