Reuben from Malaysia

Reuben studied contemporary arts in Tasmania and now has a rewarding career as a drama teacher.

Profile of  Malaysian international student in Australia

My name is Reuben Cheow. I travelled from my home in Malaysia to the Australian state of Tasmania to study contemporary arts. Now, I’m enjoying a rewarding career as a drama teacher, and am still as passionate about the industry as I was when I first began studying. 

Discovering a passion for the arts

My interest in this field first began when I was in high school in Malaysia.  

I joined the speech and drama club, did one skit that made a group of students laugh, and that was it. I was hooked. I wanted to be part of helping people to escape the daily grind, even if just for a few minutes or hours. 

I was born and raised in Malaysia with an Asian father and an Irish mother. My father was a little concerned about, yet supportive of, my decision to pursue the arts and my mother was very happy for me.  

Moving to Tasmania

After graduating from high school, I studied performing arts at Malaysia’s Sunway University. In my final year, an opportunity arose to undertake a twinning program (a type of study abroad placement) with an international university. 

I chose Tasmania specifically because I didn’t want too many distractions. My research told me that Launceston was a quieter city. 

I quickly settled into small city life in Launceston, and particularly enjoyed the simple everyday living and incredibly friendly people. 

Launceston was great because everything I needed was accessible via public transport, walking or cycling. While Australia’s mainland may have offered greater variety, Launceston kept me focused on what was necessary. I have fond memories of my time there and still visit my local friends there once in a while. 

Developing life skills in Launceston  

For me, living abroad gave me a chance to be independent and learn some essential life skills, such as looking after the garden at my rented accommodation and learning how to cope with the cooler Tasmanian weather.  

All these experiences, including the fresh Tasmanian winter period, gave me the internal strength to accomplish goals. I’m proud of it. 

While studying at the University of Tasmania, I also had the chance to experience part-time work in Australia.  

The contemporary arts course was not too intense, which meant that I could manage my personal responsibilities while studying. I worked part-time within my allocated student visa limits. I made enough to survive and even managed to buy myself a small second-hand car! 

Building a career  

I returned to Malaysia in 2013 and began working as a drama teacher. Working with three different international schools, I am now leading a team of 32 people across six subjects.  

My responsibilities consist of managing teammates and their curricula, plus procurement, conflict resolution, and every small- to large-scale circumstance you can imagine that comes with being in the education sector. This includes teaching drama students.

I am grateful to have an excellent team, and they deserve all the praise.  

Advice for future international students  

If you are considering study at an Australian university, it's an amazing, nerve-racking and independent learning experience that’s worth doing. 

Plan your stay wisely. Look into what is important to you, including the necessary amenities, as each state and city has its own wonderful charms. 

Find the location that suits you and mix with the locals. Immerse yourself in their culture but don’t neglect your personal responsibilities either. Stay focused and you’ll have a great time!