It’s not hard for the state of Queensland to stand out from the rest of Australia. Think stunning, secluded beaches, rugged yet lush landscapes, and eucalyptus forests dotted with koalas –– munching away, ready to be cuddled. Anyone here can boast having a one-million-year-old rainforest as their garden; a red desert of dinosaur bones as their backyard; and the Great Barrier Reef as their swimming pool.
Step into Queensland’s cities and you’ll find bright lights, architectural feats, legendary nightlife spots and a dining scene to impress the most jaded of foodies. With all of this — and more — it’s easy to understand why international students choose TAFE Queensland.
With hundreds of courses and more than 50 locations across the state, TAFE Queensland is where they get to live the famed Aussie lifestyle and earn a world-class qualification. Regardless of where they are or what they learn, everyone leaves TAFE Queensland with broadened horizons, countless memories, and a success story for the ages.
As a girl, growing up in Nepal, Rajani Shrestha knew she wanted to go to Australia. She also knew she wanted to pursue a diploma in anaesthetic technology, although local elders often shepherded Shrestha and her peers towards other career paths. With enough determination, well-placed advice and an easy visa process, she finally arrived at TAFE Queensland in 2019.
Australia’s Sunshine State exudes a special kind of warmth. As soon as she arrived, Shrestha was welcomed. Lecturers always answer questions with genuine care. Locals are friendly. A community of Nepalese peers on campus share food, tales from back home and support.
Shrestha feels like she’s living the dream. Professors could sense her enthusiasm and positivity from a mile away, winning her the title of “Brisbane International Student Ambassador” in 2019 and taking her to various talks, conferences and events in her first year alone. It was her “greatest achievement,” Shrestha says.
“It made my 2019 and my first year in Australia really wonderful and mesmerising,” she enthuses. “I got to know so many people from across the globe and the meaning of confidence. I was shy before that, especially in a new country, but everyone was welcoming enough to break me out of my shell.”
Juggling many roles takes practice. Thankfully, Shrestha is a natural. She admits that if she could stay up all night with her friends, she would. However, duty was bound to call early the following morning, and she needs her rest to answer.
On the eves of non-working days though, you could bet they would spend all night cooking and chatting until their eyes caved. The following morning, they would wake up, get ready, and repeat the class-day cycle they’re so grateful to call theirs.
Despite making many friends from all over the world, Shrestha is closest to those from her country. After class, they would pick someone’s place, make “momos” — Nepalese dumplings — and other traditional Indian dishes that remind them of home and just hang out. When they crave fresh air, they would walk around South Bank, explore, take the ferry, or go swimming.
After lunch, Shrestha and her friends return to class. Once they’re done, they tidy up their notes, run their errands around campus, and head out to execute the plans they made over lunch.
With plenty to see and do, and a year-round warm climate, Shrestha and her friends love to explore South Bank — located on the southern banks of the Brisbane River — in between classes. They do so on days where they aren’t catching up over lunch at the TAFE canteen.
During winter, they like to rush over to their favourite outdoor spot and secure a table big enough for six. Among their long list of favourites, a warm, wholesome bowl of noodles was a popular choice. Wherever they went, they would share food, talk about their week, discuss classes, exchange notes and plan their evening activities.
Even though Shrestha’s class kicks off at 9 a.m., this bubbly student often arrives earlier to find the best seat to take her notes from.
Professor Stefan, who teaches her theoretical and practical classes, is her favourite. “He made sure nobody would ever fall asleep,” she explains. “He would even dance while teaching surgery. He was active, funny, and he kept us all engaged with the questions he would ask.” Towards the end of class, she would start conspiring with her friends what to have for lunch and to do for the rest of the day.
Shrestha looks forward to class days. When she’s not working as an assistant nurse at a local nursing home and performing her student ambassador duties, she attends classes two to three times a week. These days usually start with a nice early morning — after an additional hour or two of sleep — before getting dolled up and prepping lunch.
When Shrestha first arrived in Queensland, what caught her eye were towering buildings. “On my first day, my friend took me out to South Bank, Brisbane,” she shares. “I told myself ‘this is what you came for.’ In our country, even to get a seat on the bus, you need to be quick. But here, we are organised. We sit in a line and follow schedules. I was surprised.”
Today, she can pass for a local. She knows where to camp, where the group should roadtrip to, and which spots are the best for sunrises and sunsets — all of which anyone can enjoy due to how well Australia has handled the pandemic.
“These are what I live for”
Today, Shrestha has achieved far more than her diploma. She’s also landed a scholarship to CQUniversity in Rockhampton. Equipped with a solid foundation, she is on her way to acquiring all the qualifications she’ll need to thrive as an anaesthetic nurse in Australia, her new home.