‘I Felt Welcomed’: Former Boarder Finds her Community

‘I Felt Welcomed’: Former Boarder Finds her Community

Melbourne Girls Grammar’s Boarding House was the community where international student and Class of 2022 graduate Ayu Chan felt the most welcomed and involved during her time at the School.

Ayu, who joined MGGS from Hong Kong in 2019, said boarding is a great option for international students to settle into a new environment and country.  

“Boarding allowed me to create strong and healthy friendships before school even started. It was the community I felt most involved and welcomed in at MGGS,” she said.

“It is especially a great option for international students because of the cultural differences in the Boarding House; no matter if you are from rural Australia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong or other places around the world, it didn’t stop us from making life-long friendships.   

“I’m proud to call them my family away from home.”  

Ayu said Australia provided opportunities that weren’t available at home, showing her different cultures, what the world could offer and a safe place to study.  

“When I was choosing where to study abroad, Australia stood out to my family and me; it felt very familiar and friendly. I had no doubt in my mind that I would love it,” she said.   

“MGGS never failed to make me feel welcome and in a safe environment, whether it be starting in Year 9 or coming back after two years doing online school (due to COVID 19).”  

From her experience, Ayu said she now has a “big community” to return to whenever she needs it, and a city she wants to make her new home. Living in Australia gave her insight into a new culture and allowed her to share hers.   

Ayu, who is now studying psychology at Deakin University, would say to her 15-year-old self she would not know what hit her when she arrived at MGGS.  

“It’s a hard and bumpy journey, but allow everything to happen, they all happen for a reason, and none of your hard work will be discredited at MGGS,” she said. 

Ayu (middle) with International and EAL Student Coordinator Dimity Harris (left) and fellow student Prischilla (right).

 “And that you would do Music as a subject! Something that you’ve wanted to do ever since you were a child, and even better, you play the electric bass.   

“Just prepare to dedicate most of your time to the Music department; you’ll love it.”     

Accents and language proved to be an early challenge for Ayu, but by the end of her journey with MGGS, that was a thing of the past.  

“When I first arrived, there was definitely a cultural barrier, specifically with Australian language and accents,” she said.  

“I had a strong American accent when I first came, so naturally, that was the thing that caught the attention of the other people in the school, and the rest is history.   

“Now, after four years, I would like to say that my accent has transformed to Australian, but my mates might beg to differ.”  

Ayu playing at the 2022 Merton Hall School Concert.

Reflecting on her time at MGGS, Ayu is thankful for all the support she received during her time at the School.  

“There are so many people that have helped me throughout the years, but I know for sure the people that I will remember the most (other than the amazing friendships that I have formed) are the teachers that inspired me to do certain subjects, such as Chemistry, Psychology, Music, Maths and English Language,” she said.  

“Without them and their constant encouragement to support me and continue to inspire each and every student, it wouldn’t have been the same. I would just like to say a final thank you on behalf of the entire Class of 2022 cohort for their hard work and for the late nights they spent to help us achieve our goals.”