Priyanka Wiharsa (TCFS 2018) grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia, and knew she wanted to complete university abroad. Upon learning that Trinity College could offer guaranteed entry to Australia’s number-one uni, the University of Melbourne, Priyanka was sold. And off to Melbourne she went.
Priyanka began her studies at Trinity one week before her seventeenth birthday.
‘At first, it was pretty hard to be honest, especially because I didn’t come from a private school in Indonesia,’ says Priyanka, reflecting on those first few weeks in Melbourne. ‘In a public school [in Indonesia], we don't learn a lot of English.’
Realising that she needed to work on her language skills, Priyanka participated in Trinity’s English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program, which she says helped her English greatly, along with ‘History of Ideas’ and literature, which let her practice her essay-writing skills. ‘I had never learned how to write an essay in Indonesia,’ she says.
‘When I studied at Trinity, things like writing essays and doing presentations were very new to me, but I had so many opportunities to talk to my teachers about where to improve, and this has been really helpful with my uni as well, because, in uni, the professors are not as close to their students as they are at Trinity, because there are so many students.’
Something that was also new was drama, which Priyanka had never studied before … and initially didn’t enjoy. ‘To be honest, I didn't really like it when I first learned it, because it's so daunting, especially because I'm an introvert, so I'm not used to performing and talking to many people. But the teacher was very nice and very encouraging.’ And, with that, Priyanka’s confidence grew.
Priyanka also benefited from speaking with the counsellor and nurse at Trinity, who she says were ‘so nice’, and her mentor.
‘My mentor was my literature teacher and we talked about my progress at Trinity and how I was doing,’ she says. ‘We talked about feelings too. She was very motherly in a way and always reached out to me if I seemed a bit off in class. She told me what all the resources [available to me] were and where to find them, and I could talk to her any time I felt a bit down or homesick.’
Though Priyanka sometimes felt homesick, she also felt Melbourne had some familiar similarities to Jakarta, in that both cities are very multicultural.
‘[At Trinity] I had friends from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, and it was very nice to meet them, because I got to know different cultures,’ she says. ‘And with my South-East Asian friends, I got to understand how similar our cultures are.’