On a warm summer morning in February last year, when Samjhana arrived at Melbourne Airport, there was an unknown – yet friendly – face waiting with a placard that had her name on it. Jet-lagged and weary, Samjhana was relieved to meet Stacey who welcomed her into her new home.
Travelling from Nepal to Melbourne was a long trip, but the last leg of her journey from Melbourne Airport to Geelong sounded most daunting. ‘The airports have signage everywhere. I surely wouldn’t get lost,’ she laughs. ‘It was getting from Tullamarine to Geelong which was the worry.’
Arriving in a new place is normally always a surprise. And, unsurprisingly, Melbourne did astonish Samjhana. ‘Big city, sprawling airport, bright lights… I was a bit dazzled I have to say. Thank heavens for Stacey, I knew I would make it home,’ she says.
Samjhana a Master of Planning (Professional) student at the Deakin Geelong Waterfront Campus organised her accommodation well before travelling to Australia. ‘Stacey and her mother Lorna, had their property listed on a student accommodation website, which I luckily stumbled upon when applying for my studies at Deakin. I got in touch with them immediately and they not only offered me a place to stay, but also offered to meet me at the airport,’ she says.
‘Stacey drove me to Southern Cross Station, where she travelled from to her work in the CBD. The station was another revelation; with platforms upon platforms, packed with people during the morning rush.
She walked me into the station helping me with my bags, tucked a Melbourne-to-Geelong train ticket into my palm and ushered me towards the platform that the Geelong train departed from,’ she reminisces.
‘I snoozed on and off and I was in Geelong within an hour, as I got off the train, there was Lorna, waiting with another placard to take me home.’
Soon Samjhana was sitting with a warm ‘cuppa’ in Lorna’s kitchen chatting with her about home in Nepal. A few days later Lorna and Stacey took her to Pako Festa – a free community and arts festival held on Pakington Street in Geelong West. ‘I was amazed to see the diversity of cultures in Geelong. In fact I met with a lot of people from Nepal at the festival. The food, music and events were all so fascinating,’ she says.
‘My studies are going well, it’s been great so far. The best part though, is coming home and finding cakes, brownies and cookies on my study table. What better way to bury myself deep into reading and assignment-writing than with a plate of sweet goodies baked to perfection by Lorna!’
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