From China to Rockhampton — a unique learning experience and internship opportunity

My name is Kaixiang Zhu and I come from Guangzhou, China. I am currently studying a Master of Information Technology at the Rockhampton campus.

Before I came to Australia, I was told this is a country extremely close to nature. “Animals there are much bigger in size than any other place in the world, such as spiders, ants, crabs, lizards, etc.”

With anxiety, I flew to Rockhampton (Rocky) in Central Queensland, which was the first place I arrived in Australia, and thus my first impression of every aspect I gained of Australia is based on Rocky.

Life in Rocky

When I first arrived, I stayed with a homestay family next to the Botanic Garden. This family was very nice. They helped me to arrange everything, including opening a bank account, applying for a SIM card and finding the best route to go to uni.

Those things were very tough for a foreigner who came from a different culture and had not had experiences of study and work in an English-speaking country.

In this place, I did get close to nature. I went to bed every night with the noise of chimpanzees, monkeys and other creatures, and woke up every morning by a chorus that consisted of egrets, geese, ducks, doves, magpies and other beautiful birds.

Rockhampton Zoo.

It also could be heard often that many unknown animals ran on the roof. After a month at the homestay, the family went on holiday to the USA for several weeks and left the whole house for me. I appreciated their trust, but I was scared to be surrounded by a symphony orchestra in a big house alone. So, I moved out soon after to another homestay.

Unlike the previous homestay where I got close to nature, I experienced local culture with my second homestay family. They are a very nice couple and introduced me to many things about Australia and let me get involved in a lot of local events, including going to church, celebrating Christmas, watching ANZAC Day parades, visiting the local radio station, playing bowls, etc.

Thanks to their help, I got to understand the local customs and culture and got the confidence to communicate with local people. They kept helping me even after I rented a flat and moved out.

Being taken care of by these two homestay families I quickly become assimilated into the local lifestyle. They gave me a good impression of Australian people.

In my view, staying with a homestay is the best way to quickly get integrated into the local society.

Rocky may be the best place for students. When I arrived, I was very excited and intentionally chose a Sunday to go into the city. I supposed weekends are the busiest day for businesses as at my home city, I could enjoy Aussie culture there.

Fortunately and unfortunately, I did get a sense of the culture. First, I found there was no bus service available on Sundays. Well, I crazily walked from the Botanic Garden to the city. After around 2 hours walking under strong sunlight, I got a lesson that almost all the stores are closed on Sundays and there is not much nightlife in Rocky.

CQUniversity Rockhampton campus.

In the long journey back to the Botanic Gardens, I realised without too many entertainment attractions, students in Rocky can focus on their study and get high marks, which I found has happened to me at CQUniversity.

Study at CQUniversity

Studying at CQUni was a big challenge for me. Before I came, I did not have the experience of studying abroad, and mainly spoke Cantonese and rarely got a chance to use English.

Therefore, although my IELTS score had already exceeded the entry condition, I chose to study at the CQUEnglish Language Centre before my Master of IT course, because I needed to let myself be familiar with classes delivered in English and get to know the study methods and educational system, which are different from my hometown.

Teachers at the CQUEnglish Language Centre provided tremendous help in not only learning a language but also transitioning into Australian university life; their efforts emerge great power when I study at CQUni.

In a class, I can understand what a lecturer is saying and confidently ask questions when I did not get a point. While doing an assignment, the skills taught at CQUEnglish helped me easily analyse topics and do research.

At the beginning of the first year, I swore to myself that every unit must be at least a pass, no failure, no retake. However, when the grades were released, I was amazed at how many high distinctions I received!

Luckily, I made the decision to study at CQUEnglish, otherwise, I would be struggling for a pass.

I would like to recommend every international student who is not from an English-speaking country to attend CQUEnglish classes before enrolling into an undergraduate or postgraduate degree at CQUni.

At CQUni, the library is my favourite place. In this quiet and lovely place, nothing can be done except study. Therefore, I can make the most of my time to preview every chapter and note down questions before attending the classes.

CQUniversity Rockhampton library.

This method really works for me. It helps me fully comprehend lectures even though there are many technical terms used and easily prepare for exams with less stress.

Before I came to Australia, I didn’t have any experience of lectures delivered in English. A tutorial is a special thing because there are no such things in China.

This class is very useful. They help students digest the knowledge they obtained from the lecturers.

Doing a master course at CQUni gives me a sense of VIP. The class sizes are small so we get a lot of one-on-one time with our lecturers.

Overall, CQUni is a nice place to study. There is a family of kangaroos, they visit the campus often. You can see them playing in the lawn around the campus. Also, the birds will sing when you are having your lunch.

The staff organise many teams to assist students with personal and academic issues, including CQUEnglish, Academic Learning Centre (ALC), course adviser, counselling service to name but a few. Find out more about support services.

If a student who can fully utilise those resources provided, they would find that study is not that tough.

Internship opportunity

I was told that it is hard to get an internship in the IT field in Rocky. However, I knew that I now love Rocky and don’t want to leave. So I decided that if there was no internship opportunity then I would take a Capstone Project instead.

Unexpectedly, on the last day of the school holidays before the new semester, I got a phone call saying that I secured an internship position in Rocky. The boss was so impressed by my CV, I got to start straight away!

On the second day of my internship, the boss assigned a programming task to me, which he expected would take me two or more days to complete. He comforted me not to worry as things would go wrong because that programming language I had not used or heard before.

Nevertheless, I showed him the completion after three hours. After being surprised several times, he surprised me in return.

At the end of the second week of my internship, he asked me whether I would like to seek for a permanent position in the company. Of course, I said: “yes!”

When I went back to my seat from his office, I could hardly sit still. I could not help wanting to share this good news with my family and my friends, and knew I had to wait until after work. So I tried very hard to suppress my excitement and force myself to concentrate on my job.

The internship tells me what luck really is. I know I am lucky but the luck is contributed by the well-organised course structure, comprehensive facilities and the supportive educators from CQUniversity. I do believe I am blessed.

My filming experience

Recently I was asked to share my story. Here I am with the film crew filming at the CQUni Rockhampton campus — there were birds chirping all around us.

I was very excited to be invited to the filming because I was given a chance to publicly share the wonderful experiences of my study and life in Australia.

I wanted to let people know how terrific CQUniversity is and how nice Rockhampton is. During the filming, we went to the Botanic Gardens where I gained my first impression of Australia, and we visited my “second home” — the library, where I have spent most of my time.

Rockhampton Botanic Garden and Zoo.

They filmed me on the beautiful lawn where I often have my lunch surrounded by singing birds and the kangaroo family, who are my favourite campus mates were filmed.

With the help of the friendly filming team, I proudly and confidently shared every aspect of CQUni and “Rocky” that I have benefited from.

I hope you enjoy it:

Enjoyed this? You might enjoy hearing Cindy Wisco‘s story from the Philippines who is studying a Master of Professional Accounting. Or, Nepalese student, Niraj Thapa Magar who has recently graduated from a Master of Engineering.

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