Recently the The Weekly Times sat down with boarding students Victoria Yiu and Pui Lam Fong to discuss their experience living in Melbourne, as well as in the Melbourne Girls Grammar boarding house.
VEGEMITE and koalas. Those two Aussie icons were the main things international students Victoria Yiu and Pui Lam Fong expected to find in Australia when they moved here to attend boarding school.
After settling in to the diverse community in the Melbourne Girls Grammar boarding house, they have discovered Australian culture — particularly on campus — is much richer and interesting than salty spread and marsupials.
“I never thought that I would have the motivation to study hard as I have been so far,” said Victoria, who is from Hong Kong and started at MGGS last year.
“Everyone was very welcoming and created a very friendly environment, in which I was happy to attend to every day.”
Victoria said her family sent her boarding in Australia because they believed the education system was challenging and encouraged independence.
Pui Lam, from Malaysia, started at Melbourne Girls Grammar this year and said the biggest culture difference between Australia and her home country was the learning styles.
“In Australia, we’re strongly encouraged to do independent learning and could ask the teachers questions directly when we don’t understand however, in Malaysia we usually just sit and listen to the teacher,” the 17-year-old said.
Pui Lam said she chose the school on recommendation from family.
Similar to their boarding housemates from rural Australia, the international girls miss home but believe the opportunities outweigh the drawback of homesickness.
“The best advice I received about boarding in Australia was to take up as many opportunities as I can and also to make more friends both in boarding house and the day school,” Pui Lam said.
Victoria has made friendships easily and said the campus location near the city meant she could take part in many activities.
“I do swimming, but if I was living somewhere else I wouldn’t be able to,” Victoria said. “I used to go to the music atrium all the time, but then I found out there’s a piano in the boarding house so I can go and play when I want to.
“One thing that I would take back with me about my experience in MGGS is all the bonds that are made with the boarders. Since we live together, the bonds that we made with each other cannot be forgotten even after I finish school.”
Melbourne Girls Grammar is on the edge of the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Yarra River, within walking distance of Melbourne’s CBD.
The boarding house accommodates about 90 local, rural and overseas boarding students from Years 7-12.