Business, China, Student Stories

How Warrnambool set me up for success

September 6, 2022 - 4 min read

Warrnambool is the Australian state of Victoria’s fifth largest city and the largest town on the Great Ocean Road. The city’s relaxed seaside vibe makes it an appealing place to call home and is a major reason why it is a ‘must visit’ town for many travellers throughout the year. Deakin University’s Warrnambool Campus is built on the banks of the Hopkins River, with surf beaches and national parks nearby. Home to a close-knit community of ambitious students and staff, it’s a campus with spirit and heart.

Helena came from China to study at Deakin’s Warrnambool Campus and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in 2020. She spoke with us about her study experience and how she is settling in with her life and career in Warrnambool.

I was keen to study abroad and interested in learning about different cultures outside of China during my childhood,’ she explained. ‘After graduating from high school, I started studying at JiLin University of Foreign Language in Changchun, China. During my second year, the director of the business faculty talked to me about the opportunity to apply for the Deakin Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholarship.’

‘Deakin Warrnambool’s smaller classes provided a chance for me to have one-on-one education and have a stronger relationship with teachers. With their help, I graduated from Deakin and from the Deakin Vice-Chancellor’s Professional Excellence Program.’

‘Changchun is a sister city of Warrnambool and there is an opportunity between the two cities that provides Chinese students with an international scholarship,’ she said. ‘I was feeling so excited for the opportunity and made sufficient preparation to meet the English language requirements and prepare the documentations. Fortunately, I managed to obtain the scholarship and have the chance to be a part of Deakin.’

Helena described feeling lucky to have the scholarship, saying it ‘provides international students with 25% accommodation fee discount, which enabled my family to provide me with enough financial support.’

When Helena first arrived in Warrnambool, she was feeling worried ‘as there was not too much information about Warrnambool on websites in China. I couldn’t sleep well for the first night when I arrived as I was worried that bears and tigers were probably outside of my accommodation.’

But now she says she has fit into Warrnambool life, living in an apartment by Lady Bay Beach, ‘where I can see the ocean from my house every day.’ She said she is surrounded by good company as she has ‘my best Chinese friend here who is studying at the Deakin Warrnambool Campus and I have an Australian family here so I can celebrate all important festivals with my family and friends.’

The average class size at Warrnambool is smaller than Deakin’s other campuses, meaning students benefit from a more personal approach to their studies. ‘Compared to big classrooms in China, Deakin Warrnambool’s smaller classes provided a chance for me to have one-on-one education and have a stronger relationship with teachers. With their help, I graduated from Deakin and from the Deakin Vice-Chancellor’s Professional Excellence Program.’

Another benefit Helena described of her experience was that ‘Deakin provided excellent accommodation for students as each student can live in a studio room, which is very different from Chinese student accommodation, where at least four students live in one shared room.’

Helena said she was supported by Deakin’s student advisers with finding a job to advance her career. ‘With their help, in my first year at Warrnambool, I got a part-time job at Town & Country Pizza shop as a general staff, which made me become independent financially. In my second year, I was very lucky to have a chance to become a trainee accountant at Warrnambool City Council, which made me obtain more practical experience and have a deeper understanding of an accounting job.

‘After graduation, the Deakin Vice-Chancellor’s Professional Excellence Program helped me fix my resume and prepared me for interview questions. Finally, I obtained a job opportunity to work as a graduate auditor at McLaren Hunt Financial Group.

‘I have been working at McLaren Hunt around one year and eight months. After I finished the graduate program, I was promoted to be an auditor. The job supports me with chartered accountant studies and gave me professional training. I have finished the first four modules and am expected to become a qualified chartered accountant in 2023.

‘Of course, these experiences made my language ability improve a lot,’ she reflects. ‘From the bottom of my heart, I really appreciate how Warrnambool has supported me.’

Helena explained her biggest achievement as being ‘neither my academic achievement nor my career progress. I think it is becoming ‘mentally independent’. Before I came to Australia, I really relied on my parents financially and mentally. I always chose to do something my parents preferred before I came to Australia. After four years of living in Warrnambool, I love myself more instead of pleasing others,’ she said.

‘Both my teachers at Deakin and my friends in Warrnambool taught me how to love myself and care more about myself. All the people I met here are kind and encourage me to be a person I want to be,’ she said. ‘Deakin Warrnambool cares about international students, and always provide their support for international students in time.’


Quick links

Discover Deakin’s Warrnambool Campus

Learn more about Deakin’s Bachelor of Commerce

Find out more about the Deakin Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholarship or the Deakin Vice-Chancellor’s Professional Excellence Program

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* 2022 Student Experience Survey, based on undergraduate students, UA benchmark group Victorian universities.
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^^ 2022 Student Experience Survey, UA benchmark group Victorian universities.
# Australian Graduate Outcomes Survey 2016–2022 (GOS), Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT).

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