Written by Mohsin Khawaja
Sheila landed at the Melbourne Airport a few weeks prior to Semester 2 at La Trobe University to join her Master’s program. She had set out from India after completing her undergraduate studies. Her university in India had a small campus with a five level building, one elevator, a reasonably sized playground with abundant greenery and a standardized college bus for commute. Understandably excited about coming to Australia, she was expecting a new environment, especially a large campus and friends from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Contrary to her desires, a few days later she came to La Trobe’s City campus to find out that it had only three levels in the 360 Collins Street building. After her classes began, Sheila realized most of her classmates were still from India who spoke to her in their mother tongue. In fact, she now had to work part-time to pay rent, unlike her luxurious family life in India. Perhaps the only thing that cheered her up every morning was the free coffee right next to the reception on Level 2.
International students obviously look for a new experience in the form of new culture, campus and surroundings. La Trobe’s City campus apparently has only few of these to offer. Its location however, in the heart of the Melbourne CBD makes up for the gap in its own way. It is true that La Trobe has a diverse student base with over 8,000 students from around 110 countries joining every year. The action however, predominantly lies in the large Bundoora campus about 14 km from the city centre.
The Bundoora campus has events happening most days near the active Agora centre which has a number of restaurants, a large library, La Trobe Student Union (LTSU) centre and Career Ready office among several other offices and buildings. It might not be possible for the city campus students to visit Bundoora frequently, but it certainly is a good idea to be there once in a while. The LTSU has also assigned a city campus officer to liaise with students from that campus. The more students engage, the more they can realize the opportunities to explore at La Trobe. And of course that it is not only the morning coffee they came to Australia for!
*Sheila is not the real name of the person described above
Mohsin Khawaja is a PhD scholar at La Trobe Business School. He has written in the past for academic journals and a newsletter. Mohsin enjoys participating in social welfare projects and academic initiatives. You can follow him at Twitter (@mohsinzk) and Facebook (mohsinzk4).