Thursday, November 19, 2009

Not all beer and meat pies down there mate!

Sage advice from a previous ADS scholar – Charlie Gilichibi

The majority of students who go down to Australia to study have a great time and complete their studies successfully but be warned - especially you blokes - it’s not all beer and meat pies down there. It’s a whole new experience, very exciting, very rewarding but it can be very tough too on occasions and it will test you. You know the old saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”? I don’t want to discourage you but it can be like that at times. For example when you get behind in your assignments, start missing your family, hanging out with friends from PNG it’s easy to be tempted to do stupid things that you will later regret.

The cost of living in a big modern city is not cheap so you really need to budget your money very carefully for accommodation food and transport. Your student allowance is intended to cover those things but as I remember there was very little left over each fortnight for any luxuries. Some students are tempted to try the poker machines as a way of supplementing their income. Believe me it doesn’t work and it will not pay. It is a quick descent to addiction and misery.

If you take your family with you the costs can be very high and you need to make sure that you have extra funds that you can call on from PNG if needed. Moving your family to a new environment can be a stressful experience. When you are in Australia you have to manage yourself and be responsible for your family if they accompany you.

Before you leave Papua New Guinea you will get a lot of helpful advice at the pre-departure briefing sessions about living in Australia, budgeting, the study program and adjusting to a new culture.

Some helpful tips when you are in Australia - make sure you:

• remember why you came and stay focused
• avoid major distractions – like gambling and wild partying
• limit your alcohol consumption or learn to stay off the grog completely
• learn to budget your stipend and set priorities
• learn to eat at home and avoid fast food
• learn how to cook for yourself so that you remain healthy
• stay in touch with your employer in PNG.
• remember where you come from and represent your country as a student ambassador
• get involved in positive activities and with positive people
• make friends and mix with students from other cultures

Whatever happens, don’t lose heart. Whatever is happening is only temporary. This time will pass and you will look back on a period where your character developed and transformed.

Apart from their new knowledge and skills gained, the most common benefit that returning students report is that their confidence and self-esteem has increased dramatically. This new confidence and knowledge will last you a life-time…not to mention some of the new friends and contacts you will make.

And by the way when you come back don’t forget to join the Alumni. It’s a great networking organization with others who have been through the fire with you. On your return the Alumni will provide you with a mentor (if you would like one) to help you reintegrate back into your life and career in PNG. Remember you will have changed while you have been away and sometimes the culture shock is greater on your return to PNG than when you first arrived in Australia all bug-eyed, nervous and excited. Australia is a great place to live and learn. The people are very friendly and welcoming and you will also mix with many other students from other countries. If you do get the opportunity of a life time then take it in both hands and make the most of it.


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