I moved to Australia when I was 17 from a small island in Penang, Malaysia. I grew up with my parents and two younger sisters and life was very different there. My school was on a mountain and my mum used to drive us up a winding road to get to school. Many Malaysians I’ve met here come from cities, but I came from an island.

Growing up I went to an international school and after that I did my A levels. I moved here straight after I finished school in mid-2022 to study a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne. My dad came with me to help set up my accommodation and then he went back to Malaysia.

It wasn’t hard to meet friends when I moved here. I was basically living within a student community and sharing common areas at a residential college so you have to make friends. Everyone was new to Melbourne and it was very fun. My accommodation included prepared meals so I met people at lunch and dinner."

"I saw the City of Melbourne My Melbourne student program straight away when I moved here, and applied to be an ambassador. I was honoured to be picked and still stay in connection with other ambassadors.

I would say one of my most memorable experiences so far was going to Melbourne airport as an ambassador to hand out flyers to new students. When I first came here I didn’t know what My Melbourne or The Couch was. Now I know that these organisations have been set up to help people just like me, but there’s still a lot of people who don’t know. Being able to help new-comers has been a great experience.

After the residential college I moved into student accommodation in North Melbourne by myself, and have found it harder to meet friends. This semester I’ve also cut down on social activities to focus on my academics.

I actually have no idea what I want to do when I graduate. With an economics degree there’s a wide range of possibilities so it’s difficult to say what I will become. After I graduate I will get a two-year visa to stay in Australia so will try to see if I can get a job here. Or I might do my Masters.

If I could offer advice to new students it would be to try and make friends in your first year, it’s so important and the easiest time to do it. Now that I’m in second year, I don’t have as much time so my social network is mainly people I met in first year."

Connan Goh

"I enjoy my life in Melbourne. Back in Malaysia on the island where I’m from it’s very hard to get anywhere without a car. Here, the tram system is great. I can go grocery shopping every week on the tram and it’s very convenient for a student like me, living by myself.

My parents and younger sister visited me for two weeks in the summer holidays. We rented a car and I got to show them around.

I have been back to Malaysia once since I’ve lived here. I don’t miss going out for Malaysian food as there are so many different foods to try in Melbourne. I like Korean and Japanese mostly. If I meet up with friends we will usually go out for frozen yogurt in the city."

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.