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Living Overseas: Me & Melbourne Storytelling Competition Winner

Melbourne Writers Festival partnered with Study Melbourne to host Me & Melbourne, a storytelling competition for international students. ‘Living Overseas’ by Monica Ferreira Rocha from Brazil was shortlisted in the Vocational Education and Training category and was voted the winner of the People’s Choice Award.

Living Overseas

by Monica Ferreira Rocha

When I arrived in Melbourne (AU), I studied English in my six months, through general English, Cambridge preparation and business classes. It was a great opportunity to meet new people, new cultures. After that, I decided to continue my studies in Melbourne, to improve not only my English but also my professional field. I finished the course of Project Management and I just started the course of Program Management. As an engineer, I had been expanding my knowledge about projects, tools, techniques and software. Also, I have been exploring more about different areas and networks with very successful projects. Overall, it has been a great experience and challenge for me. It is about personal and professional feelings in a deep way. Studying subjects about my real field of occupation is a real motivation for me, I can revive and realise how qualified I am, professionally talking. Otherwise I forget a little bit about my strong background back home, since the paid jobs I have done here are totally different from my professional reality in my country.

Engineering is really one of my passions and study about projects are totally related to this. I have done many jobs about continuous improvement in my last professional experiences. So, I would love to improve myself and be more competitive in this field. Living in this country is a kind of benchmark for me. Australia is growing up very fast and many job opportunities have appeared with this scenario. So, I have been thinking about living here for more time and contributing somehow with my background and academic knowledge. Also, I think that it is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a safe and liveable place. I believe it to be a mutual growth, for me and for this country.

It is unbelievable how many different jobs I have done living in Australia. For many reasons, such as English improvement, learning about new cultures, payment of my bills, and the last, but not the least important, to help each other as a human beings. I worked as a housekeeper, dishwasher, kitchen hand, cleaner, caregiver, telemarketing and more. Of course, in each of them I did my best and I learned something. However, sometimes I feel like an outsider. I want to do more, but I have the language barrier yet. I’m still struggling with my English and it is a little bit frustrating somehow. But, I think that the most important thing in life is still going on because we are alive. And it is what matters. I had a experience as an actress in Melbourne and it helped me a lot to be more what I am, shy but strong. I never would do it, even in my own language, but I did and it was one of the best things I did in Melbourne. The group Act of Translation was a group of international students telling and sharing their real histories in a deep way through theatre. We presented many performances last year and this year, with the end of the project. The name of this performance was She’ll Be All Right. We all enjoyed it a lot, including the audience, and it was helpful in many ways.

I am currently volunteering at Australian Red Cross, and it’s amazing to be part of the team. As a member of Supporter Services Centre, I started in July 2017 with activities of telemarketing – calls to say thanks to the donors. Nowadays, I’m still doing this, but I also work with internal document audits, updates of registration in the system, conferences on returned checks and applications of internal procedure. I also volunteered in the kitchen of my church, helping the team to cook for people on specifics dates, such as Christmas and New Year. Last year, along with other volunteers, I worked during six months with Cerebral Palsy Support Network, as a social job. I helped them with support for disabled people. I used to go every day to a workplace of someone disabled and help in some activities such as hearing aid maintenance, physiological activities in the toilet and small talking. Also, I did a job as a coach for international students about jobs in Australia. Basically we presented a workshop with real practices.

Overall Melbourne, Australia has won as one of the most liveable places to live, and it really is. As international students we can study, work and still enjoy several entertainments every day. We have a super safe, clean place with great infrastructure, transportation options and various facilities for free. Of course, sometimes the cost of living is high, but we have the right to work, which allows us to sustain ourselves, even if we do not have many reserves of money. It is more than one experience overseas, we can explore several different cultures, great diversity of foods and drinks, incredible parks and lush libraries! It is simply impossible not to recommend this place and share this experience!