Ever since I was a little girl, my Dad would harp on the importance of education. As a 10 year old, I only saw that as my Dad’s way of encouraging me to be excited for the early morning wake-ups and regular revisions on top of my daily homework assigned to us at school. Although, as I progressed in high school, I began seeing older family friends and cousins pursue tertiary education locally (in Malaysia - my home country) and internationally.
We were often asked to share our dreams and ambitions in class (standard first day of school question, am I right?) and it was then that I realised that it was time for me to consider my dreams for the future. After extensive research, discussions with my parents, and visits to uni expos, I decided to pursue an Advanced Diploma in Fashion Marketing at Raffles College in Kuala Lumpur knowing that there was an opportunity for me to do a twinning program in one of Raffles Colleges’ campuses overseas. The thought of going overseas was fascinating to me, as I’ve always LOVED going on a holiday abroad. Bonus story: I once chucked a huge tantrum when my parents called off a promised family holiday to Melbourne when I was 9, which was the reason why we did end up going on the trip in the end. I learned perseverance at a young age. But besides it being a privilege to go overseas, especially as a kid, I simply enjoyed learning about different cultures and ways of life.
Playing tourguide when my Malaysian friends visited Sydney
When I was given the opportunity to pursue my Bachelor Degree overseas, I jumped at it! In 2014, I flew to Sydney to study Fashion Marketing for what would have only been a year and a half. It’s five years later and I am still here - working a full time job I love, and married to my Australian husband. Let me tell you that this was not a part of the plan when I first said ‘yes’ to Sydney!
I was 18 when I packed my belongings and moved to Sydney. I was filled with excitement and fear for what’s to come. Excitement, because this was what I had wanted for a long time: living in a different country, soaking up the Australian culture, and more importantly, the hopefulness of a better future career. Fear, because I had never been away from my family for more than 4 days at a time, didn’t know how I would handle homesickness, and wasn’t sure what that would mean for my relationship with my boyfriend at the time. Thankfully for me, my excitement and interest to pursue my dreams were louder than my fears and anxiety. Here’s what it was like to move to a new city for me:
Moving to a brand new city was refreshing. Not knowing many people, or anyone at all in a city allows you to explore new friendship groups, different cultures and lifestyles, hobbies, and is an opportunity for you to reinvent yourself. I found it difficult to break away from friendship groups and lifestyle habits that I outgrew in my later years of high school, and moving overseas was my chance to break free from them.
I met Kristen in the first year I moved to Sydney. She's now one of my closest mates!
Moving to a brand new city was nerve wracking. As an emotional person who grew up in a very close-knit family, it was not an easy feat to say goodbye to family, friends, and familiarity. But, after lots of researching and conversations with people who have been to Sydney or have studied overseas, all that was left for me to do was to GO. As scary as that may seem at first, getting out of your comfort zone will only stretch and grow you in the best way. Trust me, I’ve experienced this first-hand.
At our AIM Overseas team trip to Cairns!
Moving to a brand new city was a great education and career move for me. I say that because if I hadn’t moved, I wouldn’t have met all my incredible teachers, peers and employers who have greatly contributed to my career thus far. As much as I love my home city, Kuala Lumpur, and still wish we had teleportation technology every time I miss home, I am very thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had here: internships at Vogue Australia and Dion Lee, casual retails jobs and my current full time job at AIM Overseas that have equipped me with a list of useful hard and soft skills.
Graduation day at Sydney Town Hall!
Moving to a brand new city was eye-opening. My transition from Malaysia to Australia was a very smooth one because I had been speaking English since I was quite young, and was exposed to Western cultures via my favourite shows on Nickelodeon and Disney Channel. Nonetheless, living in Australia meant doing all my shopping by 5:30pm or only on the weekends, having easy access to beautiful beaches, being exposed to many more cultures and nationalities than before, and realising that I can be an independent woman.
Finally, moving to a brand new city was hands-down one of the best decisions I have ever made. Besides all the educational and career opportunities that have opened up for me, Sydney is also where I met some of the best people including my husband, and will be where we raise our family in the future. Did I anticipate this to happen when I first moved here? No. Am I glad things turned out the way it did? YES!
Our wedding day ❤️
Everyone will have different experiences with travel and moving overseas, but I can only encourage you to pursue your dreams, if you think it’s best for you. If you want to try living overseas, but are afraid of it, speak to mates or anyone who have moved abroad (to your country of choice) and do your research. A practical step is to try living there for a short term, and reassess afterwards. A move overseas is not irreversible, so don’t let your fears hold you back from experiencing more than you can in your home country.
Hello! I'm Veronica Lew, AIM Overseas' Senior Content Coordinator. I have the privilege of meeting and chatting to AIM Overseas participants and university partners while creating fun and valuable content for our online platforms. When not working, you will most likely find me at the Pilates studio or the gym, catching up on my favourite YouTubers' vlogs with a cuppa coffee in hand, or going for long walks with my husband.