Coming abroad has been a huge challenge and a dream I had been chasing. It is not easy when you are not financially strong and if you do not have people supporting you. For me it was like an impossible dream, but I always had that deep desire to study abroad, work there for a certain time and do something on my own. It was hard as I didn’t have any fixed plans for it. I faced questions of doubts, obligations, obstacles in the process and somehow made it through, but the journey didn’t stop there. Must say, it was not an easy resolution though, leaving everything behind; starting from scratch; looking for jobs; trying to learn and adjust in new environment. Still, you tend to believe your instinct and that has always kept me going forward.
Choosing the path to apply to a University abroad and getting into one of the universities in Australia was a new beginning in my life. My first day at university (University of Southern Queensland), I remember being extremely nervous and excited at the same time. Excited as every new opportunity was lying in front of me and nervous as everything was very new. I lacked confidence and was full of self-doubt; what if I do not make it through. I recall meeting Namrata (my closest Nepalese friend) during our orientation day. Coincidentally she sat next to me, we introduced ourselves, enrolled into our courses and did the university tour together. We started becoming close, used to catch up at library to work on the assignment together. My other friend, Sunita, joined the course a bit late but we were now three starting hanging out a lot, helping each other in studies and other stuff. It is a sense of relief to have such trustworthy, genuine friends who hear you out, make you feel home in a foreign land.
Luckily, Namrata and me, we both did have some Nepalese family who had stayed here for a long time, who supported us mentally and emotionally, gave us a shelter to stay, made us feel home in our starting phase, until we found a job and started paying for ourselves. It is rare to have people who assuredly support you as one of their family members and do try to help you in all ways in a foreign land.
The struggle the three of us have been through together searching for jobs, walking all day, passing out resume around the town, applying through online, working in berry farm and restaurant until we finally got an actual job into Age Care was the hardest time. We, honestly, were jobless for almost 6-7 months. The struggle was real, but we were trying our best and working hard for it. I do recall how so happy we were when we got the job in Age Care, it was a big relief. And there goes a saying “Believe in yourself, the rest will fall into place”. There were always challenges and stress around, but we were giving hopes to one another.
I wonder at times what I would have done if SEA Organization had not supported me for my 2ndsemester of my first year master degree. I did not have any saving or money to pay for the course fees. It is hard to manage when there is no good job and family like SEA who builds you up. Hélène mom used to call me; I knew she was worried about how I was managing things around. It always made me feel good, she was ready to help me out until I finish my studies. I heartly felt very blessed about it, SEA always had my back and that always made me worry less, but I too wanted to manage everything on my own first as it was the solo step I had firmly taken, and I believe one should be ready to face the challenges coming from the choices one makes.
I got my first job in Infinite Age Care (Residential Age Care Home) where we looked after elderly resident. It is an Assisting in Nursing/ Personal Care Worker job. I, honestly, love my job and it is a quite different experience. Taking care of them, assisting them in their daily needs, doing indoor activities, the bonding and connection we build are so pure. Seeing those happy faces when you go for the shift, hearing out their stories and struggles they faced and in return receiving love and advice is a blessing. That’s how I started liking nursing job, trust me, it is such a good feeling, and the best part is when the residents remember your name. Side by side I was even engaged into Volunteer every second weekend at Vinnies as Youth Leader, I enjoyed spending time with the younger kids and doing fun activities with them. I am incredibly happy to be part of their team. Vinnies Youth offers several opportunities to serve people in their community, children from poor background and homeless people. They make a difference in the lives of people who need assistance the most. When I am around them it reminds me of SEA Organization and all its members, the huge difference SEA has always made on my life and a sense of happiness I feel to be part of it (SEA).
Vinnies Buddies Day… Vinnies Youth Leaders
Lawfully in Australia, a student is not allowed to work more than 40 hours fortnightly in tax. Rules and policy are quite strict, so I just used to work 20 hours a week and spending the rest of my time attending my university’s classes, doing assignment, and working at a Vietnamese Restaurant at evening hours in cash. Things started changing when the COVID hit, the restaurants got closed, we were in lockdown for few weeks. No one benefited from the pandemic, many people lost their jobs, retail sectors, businesses around were shut down for a few weeks. However, I kept my job in Age Care since it falls under Heath Care Sector and it was of front-line health worker (AIN). Legally, I could work more than 40 hours. Flexibility was made in working hours for students, so I started looking for a job in another Age Care facilities as well and that is when I joined Bupa Age Care. I started working more than the usual hours and was able to manage my university fees and other daily expenses. I would say, the situation favored me, and I worked unlimited hours. After a year, I shifted to a student village, staying nearby my friends, and started living on my own.
Now, when I look back at all this, I remember Helene mom questioning me when I shared my plans to study abroad, I couldn’t see her concern during those days. I had no clue why those questions were very crucial. I wasn’t thinking and planning much but those were the question I had to think about; it was a big deal for someone like me. I never knew it would be that hard, I had to make choices that were against my will, had to approach people to support for my documentation, had to take education loans; everything was a very lengthy process punctuated by many hindrances but deep down I knew I could do it if I got a little push and was willing to work hard for it.
Today, I could say, however tough it had been, still it was the finest choice I ever made. I have developed individually as a person; I am happy for the step I took, and I am ready to work even harder for the new beginning that lies ahead. There have been days when I had worked continuously all day. I have seen many international students working so hard just to collect their university fees, as it was impossible for them to expect money from home. Life here is quite different, if one problem ends another challenge comes up. There are ups and downs, but we still manage to enjoy it, to believe in oneself and to smile. Things might seem incredibly good but deep down there is a hidden truth and a different story to share. There is a saying, in life there will always be challenges wherever we go, it’s the way we see it, make it through and take it forward. Every day is a new day, a chance to learn and begin again.