"When it comes to deciding between geographic locations of universities around the world, my parents chose Australia. I grew up in the Philippines and they wanted to give me a higher quality of education compared to Philippines. At the time some of the other choices included Tokyo, the US and Europe but there were issues around safety and potential racism.

I moved here straight from high school when I was 19 years old. It was a shock at first and I underwent a process, but it became easier overtime. During my first year the pandemic started and I had to move back to the Philippines to study remotely. It was difficult adjusting to the different time zone.

I’m doing a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in politics and international studies, as well as Italian studies at University of Melbourne. I’m now in my final semester. During my foundation year I lived in student accommodation near Trinity College. It’s common to live somewhere that is catered when you first arrive.

When I returned after the pandemic I moved to an apartment near the University of Melbourne. This time I brought my younger sister here to begin her studies and we’ve lived together since. I like having her here – we have a different group friends and I give her freedom to navigate Melbourne."

Rod Romero

"Once I’ve finished my degree I hope to become involved in foreign affairs. There’s a competitive criteria to get a job in this field but I’ve had a glimpse of the type of career I could have. I will probably apply for Masters when I finish.

I look at the Philippines in a different way now. I see that Melbourne is more convenient in comparison, in terms of transportation and essentials. I like the culture here, definitely, and the multicultural aspect.

At first Melbourne did not feel like home and I accepted that. When I got involved in the City of Melbourne My Melbourne international student ambassador program I felt more connected to the community. I became an ambassador in November last year and now support other international students and organise events for the committee. The opportunity has helped me further upgrade my social skills and networking. I would definitely recommend the program to other international students."

"I have met other people from the Filipino community in Melbourne and we have connected. But part of being here is to further focus myself on people from other cultures who live here, instead of just my fellow countrymen.

If someone asked me where in the world they should go to study I would say, come to Melbourne. It’s so near the Philippines and because of how our vacations work, you can go back home at the best time. For me, November to February is great in the Philippines as Christmas is all about big family celebrations.

I would also tell them that it’s important to understand that university can be lonely in a different country as it can be difficult to make friends for both locals and international students. It’s important to find support groups, just like those offered by My Melbourne and The Couch, as it will give you a community to reach out to when you need.

Clubbing is not my thing so a night out with friends in Melbourne usually involves going out for coffee. I also have a bike and enjoy using that to explore the city. My favourite route is the Capital City Trail and I’m always on the lookout for other good bike tracks."

Rod Romero

International student program

The City of Melbourne welcomes students from all over the world to Melbourne to study. We provide a range of programs, events and support for international students.

The Couch - International Student Centre is dedicated to providing international students with a safe place to make friends, learn new skills, have fun, access free cooked meals, give back through volunteering, and connect with the local community through events and activities.

The Couch is an initiative of the City of Melbourne and the Salvation Army Melbourne Project 614 - find it at 69 Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000.

Head to our international student page for more.