When I was 2 years old, I contracted dengue fever and had to be hospitalised for many days. Now, I absolutely dislike needles! So being a 2-year old kid who had to have blood drawn daily was the constant war my mum and the hospital staff had to win! But I was always drawn to the sentinel beings that constantly walked the hallways, checking up on me and always had a smile on their face, even when I was throwing the worst tantrums and probably being the most difficult patient!
That was when I knew that one day, I wanted to be them, one of the ‘ever-smiling sentinel beings’, fondly called ‘nurse aunties’ by all Sri Lankan children. Therefore, it came as no surprise to my family that after I completed my Advanced levels, I said I wanted to pursue a career in nursing.
So began the extensive search for the ideal university for me to pursue my education. My search ranged from Canada, the UK and to Australia. Australia and Deakin University ended up standing out to me as it met all my requirements and educational quality standards. I completed the first years of my undergraduate nursing degree at the International Institute of Health Sciences, Sri Lanka and then transitioned to the Warrnambool Campus of Deakin University in 2018 to complete my Bachelor of Nursing.
Studying Nursing at Deakin
Initially, it was quite overwhelming navigating and familiarising myself with the Australian healthcare industry’s technological systems, as Sri Lanka is to-date a mostly manually driven healthcare system. Not only that, being the only Sri Lankan student in my cohort I was extremely nervous and felt quite critical about myself. But my lecturers, Student Advisors and classmates were my saviours as they were extremely patient with me and supported me throughout my final year.
I was thoroughly impressed with the world-class facilities and how knowledgeable and skilful all my teachers were. We were given plenty of time to practice our skills at the unparalleled clinical skills labs and help us prepare to face the clinical environment.
Life at Deakin Warrnambool
When I was initially presented with the options I had in choosing the campus I wanted to study at, I could not make up my mind. But the Warrnambool campus did stand out to me. I was just a bit unsure, as I had lived my whole life in the city, amidst its hustle and bustle. However, I have never been a stranger to challenges and embracing new opportunities and so I found myself drawn to the serenity depicted in all the brochures about Warrnambool.
My first ever challenge I faced in Australia was finding my way to Warrnambool! Skyscrapers, motorways and the noise of the city were fast changing into expansive green fields, cows, more cows and tractors! That’s when I first wondered about what I might be actually getting myself into! All apprehension faded away though when I saw the campus for the first time.
I was blown away by its size and its architecture. What was most impressive was the serenity and the peaceful environment. The ‘city noise’ became bird song, rabbits and the sounds of a flowing river.
I also chose to live on campus at Deakin Res, as it was the most convenient option and had also received a 20% scholarship toward both my accommodation and studies. I quickly realised that I am THE ONLY SRI LANKAN student at Res and on the campus. I was both excited and nervous at the same time, however, being the odd one out was great as I made friends at every turn! Living on Res was undoubtedly my best experience!
I am also a dancer and have been training in Classical Ballet for over 12 years. But once I started my higher education, I could not continue with it. Little did I know that once I move to Warrnambool, I would be able to re-live my passion.
I took part in the annual Res Musical where we performed Tarzan and I also took part in the annual Talent Show, winning first place! I also had the opportunity to perform a traditional Sri Lankan dance called Kandyan dancing to the Warrnambool community. That was a key highlight of my time spent on Res as I was able to showcase a piece of my home to the Australians of ‘Warrni’. To date, my closest friends, including my current housemate are the people I met whilst living on Res and through the various activities we were part of.
The Warrnambool campus too is no different. I had never imagined that that campus so far from the city could have such high-class facilities. The classrooms, skills labs and other amenities were first-class and the teachers too were no different. The best thing about a smaller student cohort is that the lecturers are more accessible as opposed to the larger student numbers in the city campuses. I was on a first-name basis with all my teachers and the other campus administrators. Therefore, I was always able to discuss all assignments, tests and any other concerns I had at length with my teachers at any given time and receive all the support an international student dreams of!
I am also grateful to the administrative staff of the Warrnambool campus and of Deakin Res, as they supported me with finding employment when I arrived, as well as with exploring the city of Warrnambool. They were ever-ready to answer my questions and point me in the right direction whenever I found myself in a quandary.
Present and Future
I am currently employed as a Registered Nurse with Lyndoch Living, a 200-bed residential care facility and I still live in Warrnambool with no intention of moving! The future, however, is still unsure as I’ve got endless opportunities.
Graduating with a world-class degree from a world-class university; the sky is the limit for me. I do plan to further my education and obtain a Master of Nursing, which I know for certain that Deakin University and the ‘Warrni’ Campus will help me achieve very soon!