Jude Panaguiton didn’t hesitate when Trinity started offering classes on campus in Melbourne. He got his paperwork in order, jumped on a plane, and made the journey from the Philippines to Australia. And he says it’s one of the best decisions he’s made.
‘I had no idea what the educational environment would be like here in Australia,’ says Jude Panaguiton, thinking back to the start of his Foundation Studies journey.
In fact, he didn’t know much about Australia at all, given he had never travelled to the southern hemisphere before.
On enrolling in Foundation Studies
In high school, Jude didn’t contemplate doing his university studies abroad because he wasn’t studying at an international school and didn’t realise that a foundation program could help him transition into an international university.
He was hooked on the idea of studying in Australia, however, as soon as he found out about Trinity’s Foundation Studies program, which leads directly to the University of Melbourne – the decision was easy.
‘I’d been researching how Melbourne is such a student-friendly place and how the education [sector] in Australia is very promising, with the University of Melbourne being one of the top universities worldwide,’ he says. ‘It really enticed me to come to Melbourne and study here.’
Foundation Studies has proven to be the perfect transition for Jude, as he eases into the Australian way of life and Australian education system, which he says is a lot different to that in the Philippines, mostly because students are expected to be much more opinionated and independent.
‘Foundation Studies is the perfect balance between studying or grounding yourself with the Australian education system and Australian culture while meeting people from other countries. It allows you to expand your worldview because you get to encounter different cultures and different religions that you might not encounter when you're back home or when you're in your comfort zone,’ says Jude.
‘Trinity College Foundation Studies basically allows people to not only prioritise their studies, but also allows space for social growth, emotional growth and mental growth with the support they provide through wellbeing, and because the teachers are very open to discussion and are very open to questions.’
On life in Australia
Since moving to Melbourne, Jude has been busy exploring the city – from galleries to museums, to cafés and restaurants, to tourist destinations like Phillip Island.
‘I really enjoy how much culture Melbourne has,’ says Jude. ‘The theatre aspect in Melbourne is very alive. The small gigs, the decorated alleyways around the city – they just showcase how much emphasis Melbourne puts on art and towards its artists.’
He continues, ‘Even when I first arrived here [during the pandemic] – even though there were significantly less people in the CBD – it still felt like it was a breathing entity.’
Jude also found some stereotypes challenged when he arrived.
‘I haven't experienced the subtle racism that they warn us about,’ he says. ‘I have firsthand experience of the Aussie culture … Australians, they're actually quite a lively crowd and they love their small talk, which I had a bit of a trouble adjusting to. Like casually entering like a shop or a restaurant they'll be greeting you with a question like, "How are you?". We don't usually do that [in the Philippines],’ he laughs.
That said, Jude has also been surprised at how multicultural Melbourne is. ‘Going around the CBD, sometimes most of the people I encounter are international, so it goes to show how Melbourne is really like a melting pot of cultures. You can see that in the restaurants that are around, there are cuisines from places that you wouldn't expect.'
He also says Melbourne is easy to navigate.
‘The public transport here in Melbourne is very efficient compared to where I come from. And, so far, it’s also on par with a lot of the places that I've been to. It makes everything so accessible.’
On moving to Melbourne during the pandemic
‘I've been telling my classmates who are still studying online, do not hesitate [to move to Australia]. It might be intimidating at first because it may be your first time travelling or you're still scared about the current situation, but I want to reassure everyone that Trinity, the University of Melbourne, Victoria, and Australia as a whole has set guidelines, policies, and frameworks that allow students to not only come to Australia safely, but to also study, live and explore safely.
‘You're safe and secure here. Although the pandemic is still going on, and there may still be uncertainties, once you are here, you are not alone. The Trinity College Foundation Studies team will help you. The city will help you. The university will help you. Your friends will help you and you don't have any significant worries anymore.
‘So grab the first opportunity that you can, because studying in person is a completely different experience. It allows for students to really get back into that studying mindset.’
On having no regrets
‘Moving to Australia and studying at Trinity has been the most significant decision that I've made so far, and knowing how uncertain everything is, it's such a relief to know how Trinity provides that certainty of being able to get a quality education, being able to have proper social networking, and also being able to ground you with whatever you need for your studies in Australia. It's the perfect springboard that will propel you to wherever you want to go and whatever you want to be here in Australia.