Hello, my name is Elizabet and I am studying in Mackay. I was born in Hungary, Central Europe and have lived there my whole life. Hungary is small and not a really rich country, but I am proud of my Hungarian heritage.
I was living in a beautiful middle-sized city with gorgeous buildings and bubbly city life. It was just like those cosy little European cities that you can see in the movies. All my family lived in the same town and we had a great connection.
My schooling and education have always been centered around English language and the arts. I have studied lots of subjects in English and also tried out several artistic and creative activities – from all the existing dance genres through to visual arts and drama. I loved all of it. The world of arts was my little hideaway from the world.
Beyond Hungary and to Australia
My plan was always to come back to Australia after I spent a year here in my childhood years. And why CQUniversity? Well, when I decided to study acting, I started to think which Hungarian uni to choose. But there, the arts are not appreciated that much so there was only one place I could go to but that one had some terrifying reputation.
I was starting to get worried about my future because I knew that if I cannot study something I am truly passionate about I will not be successful. When my parents saw how I was struggling, they came up with the idea that I should have a look at some universities in Australia.
I have relatives living in Townsville, so I would have accommodation and wouldn’t be alone. Everything worked out. I found CQUni, they had a course just for me and their slogan inspired me: ‘Be what you want to be’ I wanted to be myself!
So, I packed up and came to Australia. But then life happened. When I applied to the Bachelor of Theatre (Music Theatre) course in Townsville I was the only one who got accepted, but they said that the university wants me, and they offered me a spot in Mackay in the Drama course, which they thought was even more beneficial. So, I ended up here in Mackay!
Everything happened so suddenly, it felt scary at first, moving away from my family, my country, from Townsville, the city I was at least familiar with… but with a hindsight, I enjoyed every moment and I am so thankful to be here.
What I like most about CQUni is that they are really supportive of you, whatever your dreams maybe, they are here to help make them happen. They accept you as you are. The people are so very positive and understanding, I feel happy every morning when I come go to campus to study.
I chose my course because I wanted to do something that makes me happy. Ever since I can remember I was on stage. I took all the chances to perform to an audience.
Despite how obvious it was that I had to study performing arts, there was a period of time when I thought maybe that wouldn’t be the best choice. Frequently, when I happened to mention to people that I want to become an actress they would get concerned. They would say that it is not a stable career, I wouldn’t make enough money out of it or that they cannot see a future for someone coming from such a tiny and unknown country as Hungary.
But the more I thought about alternative carreers the more obvious it became that I am destined to become an actress and I could not see myself doing anything else. So, I made my decision: shoot for the stars!
Even though people told me that there is a one in a million chance for me to become a famous and acknowledged actress, I always thought: I might be that one in the million… who knows?
No one does, not until I try! And just so you know, I’m already on the path.
I also received the International Student Scholarship – Regional. Honestly, it was a great help. When you are someone coming from a small country, with all these expenses suddenly falling on you it helps heaps. I can spend all that money that I saved on so many other things like rent, food, textbooks or other facilities.
The course is really different from what I was expecting, but in a good way. I was used to a traditional way of teaching and the traditional approach to theatre and this course already taught me that there are no wrong ideas.
When I am expected to deliver a character I am going to be the person who decides what kind of a person that character is and what that character has been through that formed their personality into what it is at the moment.
Of course, the script gives instructions or cues on what direction you should be going, but those are only foundations, and my ideas are going to be the things that will build that character up.
Think of the script being the skeleton and your ideas being all the muscles, organs and the skin.
I also found that any time we get feedback it is always centered around the things that our teachers liked about our performance. They don’t emphasise your errors so that it would give you anxiety, they only give you advice on what you should work on. That I think is a great confidence booster.
And, I have a new passion, singing. And that is thanks to all the positivity I have received. I always loved singing, but at the same time I was super insecure about it. I still am a bit shy and I still have sweaty palms when I have to perform a song, but I feel like I have come such a long way and developed so much compared to where I started.
Also, studying music theory and the language of music in general is so exciting. It is very challenging but just feels amazing to see yourself building a new skill.
The Mackay campus and surrounds
I love the atmosphere in every way! The staff on campus are so friendly and welcoming. They are always there if you need help. Whatever problem you’re having they’ll help you out.
I would say students should make good use of the help that is offered. Whether it be about visas, accommodation or the application itself, don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for help.
Even if they are only just interested don’t be afraid to make calls or send emails. These people are there to help you and they are more than happy to.
During orientation week, I went on a trip to Airlie Beach, which was loads of fun! And yes, it helped me a lot to make friends. I met most of the people I am friends with during that trip.
I definitely felt welcomed. All the people here are so open and accepting. They don’t care about anything else but your personality. They like you for who you are. They smile all the time, sing and dance and you can basically do you or whatever you want they won’t judge or look at you like you were crazy.
Also, they greet you every time they see you at uni. They ask you how you are, and not only because it is something Australians do, they care, they want to make sure you are well and enjoying your time at the university. About the fellow students, they are amazing!
Everyone is full of hopes and dreams and passion. No matter how different the course you are studying from the one they are in, they are friendly and open. They would want to get to know you, hang out with you, go to events together, study together. We are genuinely interested in each other. We are a great community.
You can find anything on campus. It is basically your second home. We sometimes even joke about moving into the campus. It is that homelike. The buildings, the facilities, theatre, gym, library, everything is luxurious! It’s always kept nice and clean.
I have several favourite places on campus. I love the theatre. I love going there in the middle of the night and just have fun, practice my skills… it is so beautiful!
The gym is my other favorite place. It is so well equipped and well maintained. It’s modern and you can find everything you need for a great workout. I love the sound system! You can put your own music on. The bass is great! It helps to push you through those burpees.
Last, but not least, the library. It is not only a place for reading, studying or browsing but also a place where you can socialise with your peers. My friends and I hang out in the library every day between classes.
I can maintain the friendship with people from different courses with the help of the cosy little study rooms. We play board games, help each other out in assignments, talk, laugh. It’s a great place!
Finding accommodation and living in Mackay
I live in a studio flat with the most amazing landlady in the whole world. It is near everything. The shopping centre and the beach are only 10 minutes from campus by car. It was really hard to find though. I had to move every rock to find a place, but that was also because everything happened last minute. I came across all kinds of agents and prices and places but finally I found this gorgeous flat with the help of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Some people say there is no such thing as love at first sight. Well, they are wrong.
The moment I arrived in the country I was in love. I was astonished by its people and their extremely positive attitude towards life, their energy, I was amazed by the wildlife and was excited to experience the weather. It felt like I was on a different planet.
I visited Australia for the first time when I was only eight years old, but that experience left me with memories I will hang onto my whole life. And because of that, I came back to study here for a year when I was in grade seven. That year was lifechanging, so I promised myself that I will come back one day, and here I am.
As of cultural and lifestyle changes there are a lot and I’m still adjusting. I had to get used to talking to strangers as if they were an old friend. I had to get used to their accent and slang. I had to get loose. Europeans take everything so seriously. And they are annoyingly precise. Here in Australia you can be human, you can make mistakes no big deal.
The environment itself is also completely different from what I am used to. The roads are long, the cities are spread out, the wildlife is so extraordinary. Birds are loud and I come across all kinds of creatures that are otherworldly. I adopted to the culture by admiring all the shocking elements and experiences. ‘This is my life now!’ I said and dived into the culture.
I love it so much I want to become one of these people. There is so much to see, learn and experience. It’s unbelievable. So hard to describe, you really need to live here to truly understand what I mean.
There are things that made me think of home. Not many though and mostly little things like smells or certain atmospheres. Sometimes people reminded me of others from back in Hungary. But as I said Australia is so different in almost aspect that it is hard compare it to any other place.
Speak! Every time you get the opportunity to talk to a native English speaker don’t be shy. You need to practice. Also watching movies, TV shows or any videos helps. And most importantly read.
Of course, English classes help but if you don’t practice or don’t get engaged with the practical side of learning you will only have a lexical knowledge…but you need to be able to put that into practice.
Keeping yourself busy is the easiest way to avoid feeling lonely or homesick. Make friends, talk to people, don’t be afraid to initiate conversations. You need to get out there!
Explore the city, explore the culture and enjoy. If you ever feel homesick just think of it as a holiday. You can always go back. It’s not like you are locked up. Of course you will miss your family and friends but just remind yourself how great of an opportunity you have.
And also remind yourself that this is about you this is the path you have to take if you want to live that coveted future life of yours.
Where I’m heading…
I want to accomplish my goals. I want to live my best life. I think if I do my best and seize the opportunities, I can make my wildest dreams come true. In Australia, I feel like I will be appreciated and the people here will help me and lift me up.
I don’t know where life is taking me, but I know if I be myself and put effort into achieving my goal, I will be successful, satisfied and happy.
If you enjoyed Elizabet’s story, you might enjoy Annie Reyes’ 4 tips on how to succeed with your studies, or Chiamaka Ibeme’s story on the importance of being connected.