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Top 5 survival tips for international MBA students

"Be open to meeting people from different countries and cultures."

There are lots of stories about Australia; some say kangaroos roam the streets, others that bears drop from trees.

International students Maria Bonilla Tovar and Hooi Ping Ng know the true story.

As Deakin Business School MBA students, they have survived Melbourne’s mythical wildlife, culinary surprises and unpredictable weather.

To other international students thinking of crossing the great divide, these are their tips:

Tip #1 Prepare for wild weather

Take a scarf. And a hat. And an umbrella. According to Malaysian student Ping, in Melbourne you need to be ready for anything.

‘You have to be prepared for all kinds of weather in the same day,’ she explains. ‘You can go out of the house and it’s sunny and suddenly it’s windy and cold.’

Tip #2 Ditch the 2-minute noodles

While microwaveable noodles are synonymous with student life, they do not do you any favours. Especially not in Australia, says Ping.

‘Australia has lots of different kinds of food; vegetables, other interesting food from other cultures. Australia is also very proud of its own produce. So it’s nice to explore and eat different things you couldn’t try anywhere else.’

Why not try some Turkish gozleme or Maltese pastizzi or perhaps some Vietnamese pho.

Tip #3 Experience new cultures

Be open to meeting people from different countries and cultures, says Ping.

‘I think a lot of students tend to mingle among their own nationality. That’s not what the real power of studying in Australia is all about. You should be trying to mingle with students from other cultures and trying to understand their culture.’

Maria adds, ‘You have a really huge range of different cultures and international students and that means different points of view, different ways to approach an assignment, different ways to think.’

They recommend you jump on the diversity bandwagon and see how far it takes you.

Tip #4 Leave Melbourne (for a little while)

No two cities in Australia are the same. Just ask any local. As Ping puts it, ‘Melbourne is definitely different to Sydney and different again from the Gold Coast.’

Where Melbourne prides itself on its cultural capital, Sydney boasts about sweeping natural beauty and the Gold Coast argues it has the most fun.

To appreciate these nuances, you need to venture out of Melbourne (as lovely as it is).

Tip #5 Keep your eyes on the prize

With wind-swept bays, mysterious laneways and impassioned speeches about something called Collingwood, it’s easy to get distracted in Melbourne.

But as an international MBA student, says Maria, you need to stay focused.

‘You have to commit because it’s your own learning process,’ she says.

Making use of a program like Cloud Deakin, an online student-teacher forum, is a great way to do this, says Ping.

‘Cloud Deakin has been really useful,’ she explains. ‘Not only does it promote face-to-face interaction, it also promotes interaction through a social media environment.’

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