3 things I wish I’d known before studying in Australia

This article was first published on Trinh Le’s personal blog.

So it’s been a month since I officially graduated from Melbourne University. It’s been 30 days of relentless job hunting which has also consisted of 300 job rejections and 3,000 more times where I’ve decided to change my future plans.

Back in 2014, when I decided to challenge myself by applying for an overseas course, I simply thought, “I’m just gonna have the best two years of my life and enjoy every moment of the journey,” and didn’t actually do any research on the job market, the competition and other relevant information.

To study abroad — that’s all I wanted.

Now if I were to reset the game and start everything all over again, here are three things I would do differently.

1. Try not to care so much about grades

Grades are good if you want to further your study by doing a PhD or Master by Research. They’re important if you want to get a scholarship. But they mean next to nothing to employers.

In fact, all of my current and previous workplaces never asked to see my transcript, or even my degree.

And trust me, whatever skills you’ll need for your job, you’re not going to learn it at uni. I never learned to be a Copywriter or Radio Broadcaster, yet that’s exactly what I’ve been doing to earn my living.

So instead of trying to read all the materials in the reading list, spend more time volunteering. You might learn a thing or two by doing their projects, and might broaden your network as well.

2. Try not to speak perfect English

Let’s face it, you’re not going to be as native as someone who was born in Australia, and that’s okay.

During the first few months when I first came to Melbourne, I tried to speak only “perfect” English, the English in which you got awarded 8.0 or 9.0 points in IELTS tests, and in which every word was correctly pronounced the way Google Translate would dictate words.

It didn’t help me become more alike to native speakers. In fact, it even hindered my English learning process because I got so frustrated with my limited vocabulary and accent, and refused to get out of my comfort zone, to exchange conversation with more people.

The truth is, there’s no such a thing as “perfect” English, or a “perfect” accent. Are the British, American or Australian accents, perfect English? What you should achieve instead is the ability to be comfortable listening to different accents, and convey your ideas clearly and interestingly.

3. Live more. Breathe more. Travel more.

I get it, the living standards in Australia are high and we international students are all trying to work our asses off to pay the bills. But it doesn’t mean that you have to give up on trips and other experiences.

This might be your only chance to study abroad, and even if you score another scholarship in America or Europe, you will get older, and your experiences then will be very different from your current days in Australia now.

So live more, breathe more, and take this chance to explore this beautiful country!

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