First-year international student Stella Mackenzie talks about her experience of living at Trinity so far, including balancing study and hobbies, and settling in with the aid of Trinity’s international student committee.
With a human rights lawyer mum and a dad who works in sustainability tech, Stella Mackenzie has lived in a number of countries, including her native New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland, following her parents’ work.
She studied high school at the United World College (UWC) in Singapore, followed by Kristin in Auckland, where she studied the International Baccalaureate (IB), then looked for her next place of residence when starting university.
That place turned out to be Melbourne.
For Stella, the ‘Melbourne Curriculum’, which allows students at the University of Melbourne to study subjects outside of their main bachelor degree field, played a huge role in this decision. ‘I could use breadth studies to explore my passions in an academic sense rather than in my limited free time,’ she says.
Stella elected to take physics and computer science as her primary course of study. ‘I was very interested in physics since an early teenager because I think it’s just quite a magical thing. The reason I am studying computer science is because it’s the future of physics,’ she says of her choice.
However, like most first years, Stella found work-life balance a challenge after leaving the structured high school system. ‘One thing that I wasn’t quite mentally prepared for was not having enforced time to pursue my external interests from one that I knew I would want to pursue a career ambition with … In school, I’d be doing a language or maybe an art … But at university you have to make a real effort to keep those passions alive,’ she says.
This is where Trinity has helped, given the focus on ensuring students have a place to continue their interests outside of their area of study. Stella says it’s one of her favourite aspects of college life. ‘I got to join the literature club and use the art rooms just to try and unwind a bit.’
Stella has also found Trinity to be a welcoming community, particularly members of the Trinity International Students Committee (TISC), who helped her settle into life in Australia. She was particularly touched by the welcome message she received from the president of TISC, who also introduced the members of the committee, after she was accepted into Trinity. ‘[This was] really lovely because it kind of already felt like I was friends with them at that point.’
Once arriving in Melbourne with her TISC-provided starter pack of maps, airport directions, and shopping lists for university, Stella was able to meet everyone on the TISC and all the new international students a week before the commencement of O Week. ‘We did a bunch of really fun stuff, like going bowling and visiting the beach,’ she remembers.
Because of these efforts, Stella did not feel out of place at O Week among a large number of domestic students and has now happily settled into college life.
By Jemma Wilson