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Malaysian Student: From KL to Sydney (University of Western Sydney) [INTERVIEW]

Tamara Theresa Nathan is an undergraduate student studying Business/Accounting at University of Western Sydney. Here she talks about her transition from KL to Sydney and what life as a Malaysian student in University of Western Sydney is like.


For someone so young, she's very smart and already knows what she wants in life!


Tell us a bit about yourself.

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"My name is Tamara and I’m turning 20 this year. I’m half Indian and half Sri Lankan. I was born in Malaysia and moved to Sydney, Australia when I was 14 years old. I attended 4 years of high school here, in Sydney, in which for the last 2 years of, we had a lot of coaching and help with choosing courses and universities.

Our school careers advisor was very helpful and gave us all the information we needed. I attended many university Open days with my friends, and we were all very fascinated with the idea of university and couldn’t wait to begin our university lives. After countless planning, researching, and deciding, I finally chose to undertake a Bachelor of Business and Commerce (Accounting) course at the University of Western Sydney, Parramatta Campus.

After graduating high school in 2012, I was granted an early offer into the course I wanted. However, not wanting to rush into university, I decided to defer my course for 1 year. I got a job as an administration assistant and then later as a customer service assistant, and began university in February 2014."


Why that specific course and that university?

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"To be honest, for the last 2 years of high school, I had been determined on studying Science or Law. I had been very interested in these two fields, and even took Biology, Chemistry and Legal Studies in high school. However I found that even though I liked the subjects, I was finding it hard to cope and was not doing too well in them. Eventually, I couldn’t see myself being stuck in a lab all day, or in a court room. It began to dawn on me that being a forensic scientist or a lawyer was not as glamorous as it had been made out to be on television.

So in between interviews with my high school careers advisor, and my own individual research, I decided that I had always pictured myself in an office environment. So I looked into the Business and Commerce field and somehow decided on Accounting. It’s a difficult course, but so far I’m really enjoying it. I chose the University of Western Sydney, because I live in the Western Sydney area, and I had heard of many great stories come from students of this university and almost all my friends were going there."


Tell us what you like about University of Western Sydney.

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"I like my classes. They’re nicely spread out so I’m not cramming too much in one day. Travelling to and from university takes me 2 hours both ways, but it really doesn’t bother me. I enjoy reading in the train. I find the lecturers and tutors really helpful. Most of my course work is done online which is a lot easier to keep track of. Every now and then there’s some sort of activity or fundraiser or event going on at my university, which is great."


What do you like about the university besides the academic side of it?

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"I like that a lot of people from my school go to this university, so its great bumping into them from time to time. I also like the diverse community that we have, its great to see so many races and religions blending in, and it really creates a comfortable environment. It’s so welcoming."


What have you learned so far from living/studying in Australia?

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"I have learned a lot about myself. Before coming to Australia I never would have imagined doing an Accounting course at university. I found the competition at school in Malaysia really tough.

However here in Australia it’s a lot more laid back and there’s an endless amount of support and help if I need it, which is very reassuring. I’ve learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses. I have become a lot more open to new things and new cultures, as the multiculturalism in this country is very diverse. I used to be very shy and introvert, but now I find myself a lot more confident and bold."


Tell us a bit on how your course will help get you to your career path.

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"I feel that my course is very broad. With an accounting degree, there are many career options available. After starting this course, it has opened my eyes to the business world, which I hadn’t really thought of before. It’s very interesting to me. This degree is also recognized around the world, which will help me in the long run, as it will open doors for me internationally."


What are your living conditions like?

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"I currently live at home with my parents."


What is the biggest difference you notice from studying in Malaysia and studying in Australia?

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"I think the biggest difference would be the amount of opportunities available in Australia. There are countless programs and sessions held to help students with their courses or with their careers. There is always help available to those who need it. Even if you didn’t necessarily get the marks needed to get into the course you wanted to do, there were many opportunities to help students who didn’t get the results to get into their course of choice such as writing a stellar personal statement, or getting an internship to compensate.


My university in particular has a corresponding college, called the University of Western Sydney College, which runs Diploma and Foundation courses for students to undertake, in which then guarantee them an entry into the university course they wanted, which I feel is a really good thing, especially for students who feel deflated and upset about not getting into university, because it reassures them that it’s not the end, and that they still have a chance to get an education."


What do you do in your free-time to take a break from studying?

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"I read or watch TV to just get away from it all! *laughs out loud*"


What advice would you give to Malaysians who are planning to go and study in Australia?

"I would say go for it! Its probably the best decision you can make. Australia is a great place to start out and its an amazing country. There are many opportunities for young people, be it university or jobs. I think it's an experience like no other."


Your 5 favourite things about studying/living in Australia?

  1. Everything is in ENGLISH! (I was never the best at Bahasa Melayu)
  2. Public transport is actually one of the best in the world. (always on time, SAFE!, and clean)
  3. Meeting people from so many backgrounds and countries I didn’t even know existed! (I now have friends from Morocco, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Ghana, Fiji, Samoa, Philipines, Sri Lanka, Malta!)
  4. The environment is great, laid-back, easy to get used to, tutors and lectures are helpful, and there are heaps of cool stuff happening at university all the time.
  5. My university is so cool, that they gave a free iPad Air to all new students starting in 2014, which included me!


What do you hope to get by the end of your study there?

"I hope to have gained a great amount of experience to help my transition into the workforce. I hope to have made lifelong friends and have had the best university experience ever."


Anything you want to say to Malaysian students who might want to study overseas?

malaysian girl in australia

"More Malaysians should definitely consider studying in Australia or at least anywhere else overseas! It really tests your independence and gives you a sense of freedom and it’s just so exciting. It’s an experience to remember, and so full of great opportunities for a great career. And besides, we’re only young once, so we might as well enjoy life to the fullest while we still can!"


What great words from such a young mind!

Good luck Tamara, I'm sure you'll get to wherever you want to be in life!

For those interested in following her footsteps please check out the links below:

Study in Australia

Study business courses in Australia

Accounting courses in Australia

Scholarships for Malaysian students to study in Australia

More info on studying in Australia for Malaysians

Undergraduate courses in Australia

Search for a course

About Author

Tengku Wazir writes from time to time, and is very much into topics regarding international education. Besides that, he is a digital aficionado who is passionate about both fashion and technology.


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