international student in Australia
What's it like to be an international student in Australia? Stephanie Chu walks us through her experience so far. Source: Stephanie Chu/Study International

Pride. That was what Wai Yin Chu, who goes by Stephanie, felt when she was chosen to become a 2020 Brisbane International Student Ambassador (BISA).

The 20-year-old was honoured to represent her home country Hong Kong among the 40 international students selected from 23 countries for the BISA programme.

To be accepted for the programme, Chu had to explain why she chose to become an international student in Australia and tick off a variety of tourist attractions and events from her Brisbane bucket list.

Some of her favourite Queensland ventures on her list so far have been a night trip to the famous Story Bridge on the Brisbane River and a fleeting visit to the Strawberry Fields in the Sunshine Coast.

There’s more to the area of the world known as the “South Pacific paradise on Australia’s eastern shores,” of course. So when she chose to share her experiences with Study International, we couldn’t wait to find out more about Australia’s third-largest city from the eyes of an international student:

international student in Australia

Chu is a valued member of the 2020 Brisbane International Student Ambassador Community alongside 40 students from 23 countries and 21 institutions and accommodation providers. Source: Stephanie Chu/Study International

Tell us about yourself. Why did you choose to study abroad?

I chose to study abroad because it broadens my career horizons and helps me to become more independent.

Plus, in Australia I can level-up my English communication skills, which is very important for my future career.

Why did you choose to study in Queensland, Australia? What do you like most about studying here?

I chose to be an international student in Australia as it provides an excellent education system and a less-stress study environment compared to my home city in Hong Kong.

But more specifically I chose Brisbane, a city in Queensland, as it’s more relaxed and people are more friendly, the price level for accommodation and living costs is lower here too.

Brisbane also has fantastic weather. It’s not as cold as Melbourne in the winter, but not as hot as the northern territories in summer.

My favourite places in Brisbane that other international students can check out is West End (for their cafes), Sunnybank (for the authentic Asian food), and Garden City (for shopping!).

What are you studying and why?

I am studying a Bachelor of Communications, majoring in digital media and minoring in public relations.

I’ve been wanting to do media-related jobs since I was in Grade 9, so I chose to study communications at the University of Queensland to elevate my skills in the professional communications field.

Tell us about your most memorable time at the University of Queensland (UQ).

The programme in UQ provides valuable insight into the global media industry, which I think is needed to become a professional digital media strategist or a public relations specialist.

I can even choose whatever course I’m interested in within the Bachelor of Communications course list, which allows me to explore different aspects of communications.

I’ve also worked with a student-run agency called Newish Communications, which is a work-integrated extracurricular activity. This opportunity has been an outstanding experience and has taught me how to deal with real-life clients by doing public relations (PR) tasks.

Therefore, the best part about my UQ experience so far has to be the programme.

What are your top recommendations or advice to others who are planning to become an international student in Australia?

My top recommendation is to plan your studies before you go. It is crucial to make good use of your time studying abroad.

Finding a place to stay is also very important. If you’re considering Queensland, then it’s best to look around first before you decide to rent a home out, then you’ll get a better idea of what you’re searching for.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to be in the media-related field, possibly here in Australia. 

UQ employability and careers team holds various talks and webinars to teach us skills to get employed in Australia- especially for international students.

The UQ careers team also provides us with counselling and webinars about staying here in Australia for work and visa applications. 

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