Meet some of Ballarat's International Students


Ballarat Buddies WentingWenting's Story

My name is Wenting. I’m from an ancient city of China with more than 2,500 years of history. I am a proud physiotherapy student of ACU. Before my education in allied health, I worked for 6 years in business and culture exchange. I travelled a bit before my initial knot with health science.  

I lived in California before moving to Australia. In California, I lived with a local family. It was a fantastic experience. Introvert as I am, I established a special bond with this family. They showed me the real day-to-day life of an American family and helped me to fit in with the local culture. I am always grateful for their hospitality and this meaningful experience. This experience set my interest to join the Ballarat buddies program. I hope I will have a better understanding of Aussie life and make some friends. 

I am an introvert. I spend a lot of time studying. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, gym and handcrafting. My greatest passion is learning. I am curious about too many things. Health occupies a great portion of my learning. I am also keen to learn more about the local community. I hope together, we will enjoy Ballarat, this beautiful town even more."

Ballarat Buddies JuliusJulius' Story

"Hi lovely people, my name is Julius Candra Wong and I am an international student currently undertaking my study at Australian Catholic University. I am enrolled in a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary) and will hopefully complete my course in a couple of years. I was originally born in Jakarta, Indonesia before deciding to migrate to Australia. I moved to Ballarat last year and I have to say that living in Ballarat has thus far been a great experience. People in Ballarat have been lovely, friendly as well as approachable which can become an encouraging trait for anyone particularly international students wanting to settle in Ballarat.

There are many things that I enjoy doing during my spare time namely cycling, walking around the lake as well as just simply watching movies and catching up with friends. However, I also like playing sports such as futsal and badminton (although I am not particularly good at either).

In my opinion, Ballarat Buddies program is a great program that all students should be involved in. There are opportunities to meet up and make friends with the local Ballarat community, alongside giving international students to build up and expand on their social skills with other international students. Lastly, it also allows people to be culturally inclusive with various cultural backgrounds."

Soubhik's Story

"I am from Kalyani, a small quiet town just like Ballarat in India.  In this quiet, dreamy town far away from the din and bustle of a big city, I eventually grew up with my friends and family. Before realising high school was over, and it was time for me to move on. And I soon found myself inside one of the dorm rooms of my University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in Kolkata. I went on to finish my master’s in the same course a few years later at Pondicherry University. While pursuing this course, I had the opportunity for two internships. All of these were located at different corners of our geographically diverse country. This was when I developed a passion for travelling. During my final internship at one of IRSO’s (Indian Space Research Organization) labs situated in the picturesque hilly town of Dehradun, I was working on smoke aerosol levels during and after forest fires using satellite images. Though I was genuinely concerned about climate change before this, this was a turning point in my life, and I wanted to find more about the consequences and causes of climate change. After this, I did a Post-graduate diploma in Remote Sensing and GIS from Jadavpur University. Currently, I am in the second year of my PhD in Mathematics at Federation University. My current work is about analysing long-term trends and variability of Australian bushfire conditions statistically.  

As for interests and hobbies, I am very passionate about the environment. I love to travel. I hoped to travel a lot around Australia but couldn’t travel much due to the pandemic. In the gaps between the lockdown, I managed to travel a few places around Victoria. I also went to Cairns earlier this year. Apart from all these, I am a comic book fan and an avid movie lover. The repeated lockdowns during the pandemic have also increased my love for TV series. And really keen to find new friends in this Ballarat Buddies program."

Ballarat Buddies AsiaAsia's Story

This is Asia’s story. He is a participant in the Ballart East Neighbourhood House's Ballarat Buddies for International Students pilot project and is currently enrolled as a student at Federation University, Ballarat.

Asia’s story in his own words….

"I am from a very small country, Nepal with very big hills and mountains. So, I basically grew up within nature. My childhood was very fantastic, I was a member of SCOUT (volunteering) and made a lot of childhood friends. My family shifted to the capital city of Nepal 'Kathmandu' to pursue the career of my elder brother and I also came to a new place with the big light, big road, big buildings, many cars. It was like a movie scene for the small child and that child was me.

I completed my secondary and higher education in Kathmandu and I took a break of a year to know myself. I wanted to be a content creator at first and even tried. But I failed in that section because there was quite less support from my family and they wanted me to study and make a career. I then chose to study abroad and applied for a Federation University to study Bachelor of Biotechnology. I came here in February 2020 and I am very happy to be here. Taking specific about Ballarat, I really feel it as my home, small place, sweet people, very good environment, lake, and many more on the list. Fun fact, I have only been to Melbourne and that was when I first landed in Australia, and I have never been into Melbourne because this place is so attractive and also thanks to lockdown."

Meet some of our Ballarat Buddies


Carmel's Story

"My name is Carmel and I’ve lived in Ballarat since 2013. I grew up on a farm in central Victoria. I have lived and worked in regional Victoria as well as in Australian and the South East Asian cities of Melbourne, Darwin, Hanoi, Bangkok and Vientiane. My career in education first began in the late 70s and I’ve been able to incorporate my love of cultures, diversity, ongoing learning, education, sport, road trips, gardening, cooking and travel into my lifestyle and worldview. Making authentic connections with people is something I think will add value to mentors and mentees in this program."

About the Pilot Project

The Ballarat Buddies for International Students pilot project was inspired by the Ballarat Social Connections Network, created and originally facilitated by the City of Ballarat.

Social Work student and project coordinator, Fiona, who came up with the project idea, writes, "As I pondered what the impacts of the pandemic have had on the global population as a whole, I thought about the local university students who have been doing it a little bit tougher. Economically, most definitely, but living in such isolation and so far from their home country, culture, family and friends, feels like an entirely different thing. More so when back home family and friends are suffering such enormous hardships and distress while living in the time of COVID-19. I remember back in my own traveling days and living abroad experiences and how the moments that stay with you are those when meeting, staying with and/or getting to know the local people. To share in their culture and country through their tales, their eyes and taste is a journey and moment that is treasured. I think the experiences work both ways, we learn together about other culture's ways."

Fiona says, "So what better way to make connections in the broader Ballarat community than to create this pathway. This chance for people to chat online, over the phone and, in time, meet for a cuppa together and engage in some activities as a group."

The Ballarat East Neighbourhood House will coordinate the program, matching 25 community participants/Ballarat Buddies with 25 international students. With funding for this great initiative from the City of Ballarat, we are able to make this possible.

We already have engaged volunteer Ballarat Buddies and some international students, but we still need some more people to participate, both students and community members who are wishing to form some new, informal and meaningful friendships.

Fiona says, "Because if this pandemic has taught us anything, it is the value of human interactions."

If you are keen to join in the Ballarat East Neighbourhood House's Ballarat Buddies for International Students pilot project, please contact Fiona: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 0422 612 052 (please leave a voice message or text and we will get back to you).

Ballarat Buddies for International Students for FB and website POSTCARD back

Ballarat Buddies for International Students for FB and website POSTCARD front