Philip Island Group Photo

Zhi Ying’s Postcard from Melbourne

Zhi Ying Teo is a Bachelor of Science student majoring in Environmental Earth Systems Science from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Zhi Ying was able to explore Melbourne at the start of Semester 1, 2020 before returning to Singapore and completely her exchange semester remotely. Despite some of the restrictions in place, Zhi Ying made the most of her time in Melbourne and shares her Global Learning experience with us.

Why did you choose the institution and location of your overseas program? 

My Academic Mentor at NTU told me the University of Melbourne is well recognised for Earth Science related subjects and I could do some of my core modules at the University. I chose Melbourne because I thought it was beautiful and there’s so many attractions and museums to explore.

What was your experience when you first arrived at your overseas study program? Was this different to what you expected?

The main highlight was the Welcome Day. I was impressed by how many activities there were, I didn’t even get to see everything on offer! It was a very fun day and I got to talk to some of the clubs and explore the different activities offered. There was also a study abroad & exchange welcome day and I got to know other exchange students from many different countries. It was a really good experience mingling with so many other students.

What actions did you take to make sure you maximised the opportunities your overseas program offered you? 

Since I couldn’t travel anywhere and had to come back to Singapore (due to the pandemic), I decided to give it my all for my studies so that I still learnt something from my exchange. I listened and participated in class to maximise my learning, and I gave my 100% for the assignments. I also made sure to have fun while learning. I believe that when you are having fun, your brain is much more receptive, which means it is a lot easier to learn when you perceive the classes to be enjoyable.

What was your biggest culture shock moment?

In Singapore, we normally address the professors as Prof., for example, Prof. David. In Australia, it’s so casual as students just call the professor by their first name! I got used to it over time and started calling professors by their first names directly.

The food portions are huge! When I went to Coles and Woolies, the bread slices were double the size of Singapore’s. I thought, wow this is going to take me 2 weeks to finish! It was definitely not Asian portion size!

What was the highlight of your overseas program?

I made some new friends during the exchange welcome day and a few days before school started, someone suggested a trip to Phillip Island. It was very impromptu and we stayed in an AirBnB for a night. We had to take a taxi if we wanted to travel around the island, but at a point in our trip we decided to walk from one attraction to another, and we ended up walking for one hour. It was tiring but we enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the pretty clouds. It was nice seeing the penguins at Phillip island although I think the penguins at St Kilda are really cool as well.

I also would like to add that I went to Melbourne Zoo days before I flew back to Singapore. It was for an assignment in the Society and Environments subject and I was so glad I went because it was the last attraction I visited just before I returned to Singapore.

What is the one piece of advice or tip you wish you had known before you went on your overseas program?

Do not hesitate, just go do it!

Go to different libraries on campus, such as the Baillieu Library and Brownless Biomedical Library. The facilities were really great and I enjoyed using the computers. Food-wise, I usually ate at Union House, there are so many options there. I loved the Food Co-op, it was affordable and cooked by students. I do not think I can get such a meal in Singapore, students cooking for other students is seldom heard of here.

I enjoyed exploring the malls around my place, I visited Melbourne Central and QV which are great places for groceries or just taking a walk! I think Coles and Woolies are so cool and I really think the Odd Bunch fruit scheme is amazing, you can buy odd-looking fruits for a lower price! Kmart and Big W are the go-to places for everything, I feel like they have everything under the sun.

Get the PTV student concession card for Myki which is available (and a must!) for semester exchange students. It makes travelling so much more affordable!

Do you have anything else you would like to share about your experience?

I appreciated the support of UniMelb staff calling students. I am very touched by the kind gesture, it was so thoughtful of UoM to call every single exchange student and enquire about their well-being. It was already such a hard time and the call was really much appreciated. I was simply amazed at UoM’s concern and kindness.