Have you ever been waiting for something better for a very, very, very long time?
The opportunity to study and work in Australia was my dream.
The real story is about a little boy who was humble to learn and explore a new destination.
When in Sydney
Truth be told, I was born in a very, very underprivileged family. I was not able to join higher education due to my family situation. At the age of 14, I was miserable, insecure and had no dreams in my heart at that time.
I truly believed that nothing is better than education, and thought, if I could have the opportunity to invest in my education, that was the future path forward.
Here are my experiences as an International Student, living in Melbourne (the world’s most livable city) for 2 years.
It was a big turning point for me to receive a scholarship through KOTO and Box Hill Institute to study Diploma of Hospitality Management (Specialising in Commercial Cookery) in Australia (I waited for many, many, many years). Waiting is a sign of true patience, love and strong passion. Anyone can say I have passion, I have love and so on but not everyone can wait for that long. This golden opportunity took a long time, but was worth the wait. On a beautiful day and almost at the end of 2014, the opportunity finally came to me. It was to be my new step, a big challenge and a blank note book for me to write on. Back in time, and a couple weeks before I traveled to Melbourne, I was thinking a lot and worried a lot about the future, I researched and planned for my very first trip overseas
Life has made me strong and it was one advantage I have over many people. I believe, if I did not give it a go 2 years ago, I may have never had the chance to try it in the future. The opportunity came to my life and my life has been changed in many positive ways.
Everyone loves new changes and so do I.
It was my very first flight ever and I would say, for the first time flight from Hanoi airport to Melbourne airport. It was very special feeling when I saw a clear full Moon with all bright stars in the night. I felt like, I can touch those stars and moon. It was also great to chat with many other International passengers with different backgrounds. I was completely surprised when I arrived in Melbourne airport because it really is a totally different world.
I am sitting here to review myself and looking back on my long journey and my dreams over the years and I still have to remind myself that it came true.
A day after I arrived in Melbourne, I went to the Box Hill campus for my orientation day and luckily, I had the chance to talk to a number of International students from different backgrounds and countries (these students were from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Thailand, Indian and so on… I was the only one from Vietnam). We gained so much vital information at the orientation days. They guided us on where to go, what to do to soak up all the multiculturalism in Australia. In only 2 days orientation, we learned a lot about diversity in Australia, learned about essential skills and response it challenging situations. For instance, life skills, how to defend ourselves when we are faced with bad people with bad intentions, or how to survive and ask for help at the beach if sharks come, and how to be a First Aider. Those were all just basic but extremely helpful.
Fortunately, warm hearted people and good people were always there and will be there for me if I need help. I had difficulties with public transport and finances at the start. I lived not too far away from school and I traveled to school by bus only. After many weeks, I found a job that I was interested in for my income in order to survive. This job was recommended by a friend and the new work place took me a total of roughly 4 hours of travel to and from. 7 hours working plus 4 hours traveling were not a problem for me at all I was often walking a long distance to get home because I started work from 3pm to 10pm and near my house there were no buses after 9pm. I often got home about midnight or almost 1 am in the morning Walking in the darkness for a long distance was not particularly pleasant. (Remember during this time I also had to go to school 4 days/ week). But it was great exercise and I lost 6 kg of weight and still no problem at all. The problem was when my restaurant was quiet (they sent me home early or they cut off hours in my shift so was not enough money to pay for my weekly rent and daily basic needs. My family was not able to support me with money or any financial help and it is never ever easy for anyone who is studying and living in other countries like Australia, especially without financial support. Simply, it is extremely expensive with many new things to be responsible for.
Suddenly, my first year was gone, Time really flies, and finally, the very bad time passed and I succeeded in overcoming the hardest time (the first 4 months).
Honestly, Australia treats me so well. A country like Australia, it often takes time for new people from other countries to adapt and so did I. After about 4 months, I stared to enjoy my living and studying here. Due to the variety of favorable conditions and activities that are available, I have learned a lots from my mistakes the hardest was independent learning. In one year I moved my work in to 3 differences restaurants and hotel due to my passion with cooking, and my learning. I struggled very hard and I survived. The hard work totally paid off. My best memories were to work at InterContinental Melbourne, The Rialto there was so much to learn and experience here. To end up my first year I treated myself to a lovely trip to Sydney in order to encourage myself and explore a new destination.
First AFL game
The second year, to welcome a year of success and happiness. What a year. It was a remarkable year once I got involved with a number of activities at school, state, and nationally. This was the year that brought my achievements for all of my hard work and I cannot be happier.
First, I was named Box Hill Institute’s International Student Ambassador, representing Vietnam. What a great position to share and help new overseas students with their questions and concerns about studying overseas. The position was to organize events, open days, international student orientation, lunch & BBQs around campuses. This position assisted fellow students with having their voice heard and share experiences and participate in school events. Becoming a student representative allowed me to build my confidence in new surroundings and undertake professional development as long as enhance many essential skills, especially in terms of communication and working with others. The Ambassador program truly gave me a hand on many skills and the best thing being able to share my experiences with other International students and more importantly to expand my international and domestic network.
Second, Darwin Trip nominated by Box Hill Institute to go to an International Student Conference in Darwin July 2016. This was great chance for me and was sponsored by Study Melbourne. (Flights, food, accommodation and all expenses were fully paid.) The title of the conference was “Breaking Down Barriers”. I didn’t know what to expect from the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) National Conference because it was the first time I had heard about such a thing. It was my very first time ever to attend a big conference like this. I enjoyed and felt enriched every single day. We were all given a chance to explore Darwin during the conference and I was able to make friends who were from all over the world, and learn different cultures and stay in touch with almost of all them.
Third, a cooking Competition was what I wanted to do over the years when first got involved in the food industry. I feel honored that Box Hill chose me for the Victorian State Final (AUS TAFE CULINARY TROPHY COMPETITION). It was my privilege to represent my school for a cooking competition. I challenged myself with Victorian state final cooking competition. I spent my own money, and practiced very hard from time to time to get it through and finally won the best overall 3rd year culinary student of Victoria. State winner and that was an awesome award and I can never thank enough the teachers and BHI’s members who supported and gave me all those memories. This was the best moment of my Australian life when The Judge/ chef/ MC announced my name but he could not pronounce my name properly. The moment when he said Victorian state finalist and said I was an unique gentlemen who won the best overall 3rd year Culinary student of Victoria (best culinary student and best apprentice in Victoria) This was above all my expectations when he said my name. It was fantastic to get involved with a number of well-known judges, chefs and competitors at Crown hotel for the award presentation ceremony. It seems like it was only yesterday and I couldn’t ask for anything better.
Fourth, I also participated in the National Apprentice Cooking Competition at Campbelltown TAFE (New South Wales) on 26 October. This time all Competitors were from NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Western Australia and Victoria. In culinary category, I represented Box Hill Institute and the state of Victoria. This time it was a lot harder than the one before because this time I had to juggle study (almost end of semester with numerous assessments), my part time job (for income) and to think about what to cook in my next competition and but more importantly I had to stay very focused on cooking practice. There were many sleepless nights; I put all of my effort in to study, work and competition. I remembered my beloved teacher said to me that every competitor coming to a National cooking competition is not for fun or making friends, they come here to WIN. I believed, work hard and a good result will come to me. I expected that time to get a Gold medal and that put me under more stress. It was time; it was my honor to represent Victoria State and my beloved Box Hill TAFE at a National cooking competition. I didn’t know how far I could go but I gave it a go and I worked under enormous pressure, against 6 other states’ competitors and for the final round, preparing 4 servings of entree and 4 servings of Main course in two hours including cleaning. As you know, the competition dishes and practice set a very high standard in Australia. There were a lot of pressure at competition and fortunately I won the Silver medal in culinary category. And in fact, although I was aiming for Gold, they couldn’t decide so there was no gold awarded. Honestly, after the competition, I looked back at what went wrong under pressure and I learned lots from the Judge’s feedback.
I would like to say a special thanks to Australian Culinary Federation for organizing this cooking competition. It was not only about what type of Medal I got but it was also an amazing experience. I have sweet memories of the beautiful evening I mingled and enjoyed the party with many famous Judges, chefs and competitors at the award presentation ceremony. I felt so much better having been awarded that absolutely beautiful result at the end of the competition.
Last but not least, I have just been nominated for Box Hill Institute’s Student of the Year Awards. Each year Box Hill Institute holds a ‘Student of the Year’ competition, where are best and brightest students are recognized for their achievements. My hard work truly speaks for itself and I totally believe that when it comes to success, it will come when it comes and when it’s gone it’s gone.
For sure, that I could not have asked for anything better. Time flies and my 2 years’ experience in Australia was not too short or long but it’s just enough to experience the hard times and enjoy the results of working hard. Australia always gave me a lot mixed emotions of sadness, lessons, happiness and memories.
It is almost the end and my time is almost up but once again it’s truly enough time to enjoy every single day. After completing the 2 years study Diploma of Hospitality Management (Specialising in Commercial Cookery) in Australia, I have experienced a brand-new country with incredible new outlooks, customs and activities. This opportunity was not only helped me to develop my knowledge and skills but also my personality and my character. I believe, life has offered for all of us at least a chance to change and it is called tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a new chapter, tomorrow will be another day, a new story and a chance for a better future ahead. I know that opportunities are everywhere and waiting for me and I will do my best in wherever/ whatever position I am in.
Once again, I could not ask for more and I can never thank enough the wonderful opportunity that BOXHILL and KOTO have given to me in 2 years of study. I believe, Melbourne has the world’s best quality of life. Studying and working in Melbourne has given me a better life and experience and given the opportunity to help other disadvantaged youth when I return to beloved home country. I will always bring KOTO (Know One, Teach One) to share with people, especially needy people.
My beloved friends and loved ones please trust me that I will always keep my mind active, open and welcome for new knowledge. I always feel like my own success is the same success of my family, BOX HILL TAFE and KOTO as well.
|QUYEN TRINH is an Australian Alumni from Vietnam. Quyen will soon return to Vietnam and take a position in Ho Chi Minh City running KOTO Catering, a division of KOTO, Know One Teach One – a social enterprise changing the lives of disadvantaged and at-risk youth in Vietnam.
To learn more about KOTO visit www.koto.com.au