When Alex Chieng moved to Melbourne for Foundation Studies in 2015, the city captured his heart. He now can’t imagine living anywhere else. Here he shares his experience and offers some advice to those thinking about enrolling in Foundation Studies at Trinity College.
Alex Chieng moved to Melbourne from Brunei Darussalam when he was just 16 to join Trinity College’s Foundation Studies program. Though he was young, he feels that, regardless of what age he made the move, the experience would have been similar. ‘As a foreign student coming to a whole different country, it's like a rebirth,’ he reflects.
Though Alex admits that he faced some culture shock when he first arrived in Australia, he says that Trinity College helped ease him into his new life. ‘There were a lot of times where the tutors, who, of course taught the subjects that they were meant to, would teach us about Australian ways and how to do things.’
The openness of the teachers made Alex realise that the staff at Trinity were a little different when compared to what he was used to in his home country. ‘In Asian countries they're seen as teachers and we have a sort of gap [between tutor and student], but, in Australia, you'll find that everyone's really friendly and everyone genuinely likes to help. So don’t ever be afraid to talk to your tutors.’
From a curriculum point of view, Alex’s favourite subject at Trinity was accounting and economics. This prompted him to study accounting and finance at the University of Melbourne, and he’s now working at a tech company.
‘Economics really opened my eyes and the way it was taught at Trinity was amazing – I didn't feel like I was studying at all. The whole time I just felt that in every single economics class I was learning something useful,’ he says. ‘A lot of my studies from Trinity helped me understand how accounting worked, and my other classes – well, I know it’s called Foundation Studies – but they really did lay out a good foundation to help me develop myself better at university.’
Alex did a lot of research before deciding on Trinity, but it was his sister’s friends, who had attended before him, who convinced him that Trinity would be the best choice. ‘I reached out to them and they said, “Go to Trinity, one hundred percent”. On that advice, I did more research on Trinity and now I'm still here living in Melbourne.’
And Alex loves it.
‘No one can hate Melbourne, right?’ laughs Alex. ‘Everyone’s really nice and it’s a very welcoming city. Everywhere you walk, there's a smiling face and you can strike up a conversation with anyone. I feel this is a place that I can stay long-term.’ He notes the coffee is pretty good too.
Melbourne is the city where Alex also now has a lot of friends, most of them from his Trinity days. ‘A lot of my friends live in the inner city, so I never feel alone, though if I want to be alone, that’s fine too.’
Alex counts some of the people he’s met at Trinity as lifelong friends, as he still has his friendship group from Foundation Studies, even though they’ve all graduated. ‘Another good thing about Trinity is that I have friends all around the world now – in Malaysia, Bangladesh, you name it,’ he says. ‘There's always a friend that I can reach out to and connect with again.’
‘If you're thinking about coming to Trinity, my one piece of advice would be to really be open to new people and experiences. That guy or girl sitting there in the atrium, talk to them. They might want a conversation just as much as you do. And, who knows, they might become your lifelong friend or someone who will expand your network.’
‘When you're in a new country, you really need to just make the most of it.’