My name is Salwa and I’m from East Java, Indonesia.
I’m in my final year of a PhD in Education at the University of Newcastle. I chose Australia for its high-quality education system (which has a strong research focus), vibrant cities and friendly local people – they often smile and greet strangers. Also, I love Australian native animals!
I wanted to do a PhD in Education so that I could focus my research on topics that I am truly passionate about.
Before starting my PhD, I completed a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Flinders University, South Australia and, before that, a Bachelor degree in English Education at the State University of Malang (UM), East Java, Indonesia.
The things I enjoy most about living and studying in Newcastle are the peace and quiet, affordable living costs, multicultural and arts events, friendly local people, great restaurants and pristine beaches.
I’m also grateful that my university, Study NSW, and community services provide valuable support for international students, since we experience specific challenges, such as language barriers and cultural shock.
Throughout my studies, I’ve taken up many volunteering opportunities, which I love!
I have been selected as an international student representative on the University of Newcastle’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee and I participated in the 2022 NUmates International Student Support Program, as a buddy for international students.
I have also been a peer mentor, helping and welcoming new students, and sharing advice about university life based on my experience.
I also participated in the 2022 AusLEAP volunteering program, which is run by the University of Technology Sydney. It provides community volunteering opportunities and hands-on volunteer training for international students.
I’ve received several awards for my volunteering. Recent examples include the 2022 Newcastle Volunteer Service Awards (my second!) and the University of Newcastle 2021 Volunteer of the Year Award (Student Experience), and I was also selected as highly commended in the university’s 2021 Employability Excellence Awards.
Volunteering offers great opportunities and benefits for international students.
It can help you develop leadership skills, gain the transferable expertise needed to make you more employable, build confidence and improve your communication skills.
Volunteering also gives you those ‘feel good’ emotions because you are helping others and making a difference, no matter how small, in the world.
I enjoy volunteering because it feels good to give back. When I first arrived in Australia, my university mentor shared her experiences and tips on how to settle into university life, and it helped me so much. Now I am able to help other international students in the same way.
Opportunities to volunteer can be found in many places. You can apply for volunteering programs offered both by your education provider as well as organisations outside of your studies, like I did with the AusLEAP program.
To find out more about volunteering in Australia, visit our volunteer and industry experience page.