“I was going through a rough phase in my life where I had no goals for the future. I’m a Singaporean and had freshly completed the two-year mandatory military service. That was when my Mum heard about an agency which allows you to apply for overseas Universities and you did not have to pay any fees if you get through the main exam. Uni pays them some commission. We didn’t have much to lose, so we decided to go for it. To my luck, I managed to make it to Macquarie University in Sydney, and I was here in July 2018. My Mum had to pull all her money together to help me fly.
I didn’t exactly go through the struggle of a regular international student once I arrived here. My wonderful aunt picked me up from the airport and helped me sort out my photo ID card along with other accounts. Where I did struggle was perhaps learning how to travel more. You’ll always find people running from one end to another. The second big change was to figure how different was the art of communication here. No two people behave like they’re on top of one another because it’s all equal. Every person gets respected in the same way. When I started going to the Uni and saw the price of my units, I realised how blessed I was. I was never the best student. I did just enough to get to the next stage, but now I couldn’t waste my mother’s investment in me and needed to reap some benefits and make the best of the opportunity. I studied hard and managed to bring my three-year degree down to one and a half years. More so, I became a Macquarie mentor, and my goal was to support other international students so that they don’t feel like outsiders at Macquarie. When I thought it was starting to work out, COVID-19 took the entire nation by storm. Now, after staying unemployed for nine months, I’ve finally grabbed a job as a Workshop Logistics Specialist.
I have always been a bigger guy, and I got passed over many job opportunities for the same reason. When I moved to Australia, I thought it would be the same case to fit in, but instead, I felt extremely embraced. Thanks to the Army training, I’m used to getting up at five, sometimes four in the morning. I started investing in health and began my weight loss journey. One time, I went for a jog, and there was a pickup truck near the tracks. The driver started honking to the beat of my jogging. It was his way to pump up my spirits, and he told me, ‘You’ve got this, bro’. I felt so touched to see how accepting these strangers were to me. I was 178 kgs when I began, and now, I’m 130. It’s still a work in progress. I’ve placed a 99 number note as a target weight on my wall. I’ve been a three-digit number for the longest, but now I can’t wait to fall into the two-digit bracket.
From not caring about life one bit to waking up each day with a mindset to make it count, I think is a huge transformation. That is the beauty of living overseas. Now my dream is to get a Permanent Residency to stay in Australia and make my Mum proud. I want to continue living in a country that has done so much good for me.”