The Voice of the Student

Words by Kathleen Donaghey

International students from three countries describe their experiences living and studying in Australia.

Lene Lind Olsen, 24,
(First semester social work student)

I came to Australia because I wanted to be exposed to something new; experience a new culture. We talked to other students who have been here and they recommended it, they enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to a different kind of schooling, new people, the weather is different, getting to know people, being social.


I’m renting private accommodation with my friends and I think it’s a very good price. It costs $500 a week for four people so it’s way cheaper than Norway.
In Norway it’s at least 5000 Norwegian krone per month ($800) – and that’s each person. It’s very expensive in Norway and we don’t have scholarships there so we don’t have much to live on and we have to get a job on the side to manage; for food and to pay bills. It’s very hard to be a student in Norway. It’s much cheaper to live here. Norway is more expensive in all things.


We just arrived for our first semester so I haven’t accessed any of the services yet. I’m not worried about getting sick but if I do we have private insurance. With academic support we spoke to one student from Norway and he said the teachers here are really helpful, like an open-office policy. I’m sure I will get help if I need it. If I need any counselling services I will just ask someone.

Aishwarya Nair, 24,
Mumbai INDIA
(Postgraduate diplomacy)

I chose Australia because it is a multicultural society and I wanted to work at the Indian Foreign Ministry which means talking to people from around the world. Australia also has cheaper tuition fees and allows me to stay another two years after my postgraduate course.


I am paying about $40,000 a year in tuition fees which is cheaper than USA and UK but the cost of living here is higher. I stay on campus which costs more and I have to have a job in retail to support myself plus there is other help on campus like free food.


The services are easily available on campus. They give out brochures through the postgraduate and international student associations and connect with you and give you information. There’s also O Week and lots of events through the semester. I come from a tight family so when you move to another country you find yourself suddenly alone and it helps to have someone to talk to. I accessed the counselling services and it also helps living in the student accommodation because there are always people around. It’s also difficult going through a different education system and I struggled with the course I chose originally and I needed guidance. Academics are always available over email or in person.

Katherine Degollacion, 24,

(Third-year nursing student)
I came to Australia because my sister has been here seven years and she is my motivation. This is my last year and I want to stay in Australia when I graduate. I’m already looking for work with Queensland Health.


My first year wasn’t hard because I was living with my sister but the second year was hard because I moved out on my own, renting a house, and it was quite expensive. Now I’m living with three of us and the rent is about $300 a week. For me it’s quite expensive because we have to pay $200 each every fortnight. We’re also saving for our tuition fees as well because I have to pay my fees upfront. I have to work to afford the bills and my visa allows me to work 20 hours a week.


I haven’t used any health services. I had to have a blood test and vaccinations before my nursing placement but I haven’t been sick. I know that there are psychological services available and support groups but I haven’t accessed it yet as well. When it comes to academic support I would give it a nine out of ten, especially in nursing. They have a special support where they help correct our grammar on assessment for international students which is very helpful.

About the author
Journalist Kathleen Donaghey has more than a
decade’s experience in newspapers. She co-founded
and currently runs an independent news magazine
in Qld.