‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone’: how postgrad student Anushree has made Australia home
Have you ever wanted to try something new but had fear hold you back? Be inspired by international student Anushree Prasad, who has made a new life in Melbourne and thrived, despite unexpected COVID lockdowns and other challenges.
In her final year of a Master of Business Analytics at Burwood, Anushree shares her journey from India to Deakin. She has overcome self-doubt, financial and housing challenges, and the rollercoaster of remote learning in a new country.
The very idea of me going away from home was difficult to envisage for both me and my parents.
Sometimes we are not serious about certain things, but they just happen. On the contrary, when we are chasing something it keeps running away from us. Life is full of challenges and surprises, isn’t it? For me, Australia just happened. I had neither planned nor was I prepared.
Being the only child, I had a very easy and comfortable upbringing. I am blessed to have grown up in a family where education, principles and values have been the foundation. I was sheltered from the harsh reality that prevails when you step outside your house. Additionally, being an introvert, I just had a bunch of friends. I never really went to pubs or discos and was often called ‘anti-social’.
As the saying goes, ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone’. My actual life began the moment I stepped in Melbourne.
Having no friends, family or acquaintances here, I knew that life was not going to be easy, and it was way more difficult than I had expected. Waking up alone, cooking your own meal and rushing to uni was a Herculean task. No matter how organised I tried to be, I used to fail.
I was somehow getting used to this pattern and then COVID happened.
My entire first year of uni went online. I felt the purpose of me coming here – to experience a different life – was defeated. But when one door closes many more open. The catch was that none were easy to get through.
At every stage I had difficulties. I had accommodation problems (I moved six times in one year!), I met some wrong people and lost some friends (I realised later they were just acquaintances and not friends), I had financial problems and so on. I felt like all the problems in the world had come to me at once, and there were many instances where I felt like packing my bag and going back to India.
But then I realised: I made this choice, I wanted to break out of my comfort zone and guess what? It’s not as easy as it sounds.
To decide to break out is one thing but to actually accept the fact that now you’re out of it, takes guts. Trust me, it is a big deal. Initially, it was very difficult, made me want to quit, but then I decided to latch on, because if not now, then when?
The last few months have been mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. But when I look at my journey, I am proud of myself and so are my parents. More than a postgraduate degree, it is like a personality development course that I’ve opted for. Every day I get to learn something new and become a better version of myself.
This is a journey that everybody must go through at some point in life.
It’s not something that can be explained in words but must be experienced. To all those who are hesitant to push the boundaries of your comfort zone, I’d say take the plunge, believe in yourself and you can do it.
Help is available for all students
Anushree has used a number of support services at Deakin to help her adjust to living and studying in Australia and during COVID:
- DUSA Student Legal Service: I had trouble with my accommodation and it reached a stage where I had to seek legal advice. As I was new in the country and did not know how to tackle legal matters, I contacted the DUSA Student Legal Service for rental advice.
- DeakinTALENT: This is a very helpful university resource, especially for international students who need to understand the job market and employment prospects in Australia. I attended a few workshops on resume writing, creating a LinkedIn profile and how to make connections in Australia.
- Health and Wellbeing: The early days of the pandemic were brutal to many of us. I had no friends as I did not get a chance to attend uni, no family, I had traumatic experiences with my housemates and all of this caused lot of mental stress. I did not know how to deal with the situation but I knew that I had to somehow get this out of my system. That’s when I decided to take a few counselling sessions at Deakin. I had six sessions and felt extremely relieved after speaking to the counsellor.
Find out what other services are available to all students – from general uni services and study support to health and wellbeing.