Student Stories: Jelly Ann from the Philippines
What made you decide to study in Cairns?
It all started from the advertisement back in 2008 for the ‘Best Job in the World’ – caretaker on Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef. I researched Hamilton Island and the reef and loved what I saw. From then on I kept an eye out for any opportunities which would allow me to go to Australia to visit the reef.
Over the following months I saved up money for a trip to Australia to see the reef. My aunt ws already living in Cairns and she offered me sponsorship for tourist visa so I could fulfil my dreams. It seemed ‘enough’ a first, however, being an entrepreneur in Philippines and being business minded I was hesitant to spend my hard-earned money just for 3 months holiday. I wanted to spend my money on something that would yield a better return and have long-lasting benefit.
The reef visit experience was just the start, I wanted more and so, decided to study in Cairns. This way I got to not only visit the reef but gain a qualification while immersing myself in the culture of a new country.
How long have you been in Cairns?
To date, I’ve been living and studying in Cairns for 3 years.
What institution/college are you currently studying at? What courses are you studying?
I have studied in three different education institutions while in Cairns. Firstly, I started at TAFE QLD doing a Diploma of Business – a course which provided me with a pathway to university entry. While undertaking that course I did online study at KAPLAN College to improve my English competency. Finally, I studied my Bachelor of Business – Major in Management at JCU Cairns from which I am a recent graduate.
Do you belong to any clubs or associations in Cairns
As a Filipino, we gather as a cultural group for special events, particularly for nationally significant celebrations such as for Philippine Independence Day. Then, just recently we have started a social basketball and volleyball league PBL. While not a member of any other specific clubs or associations due to my studies, work and family obligations, I frequently participate in activities of the JCU Student Association as this is one aspect of Uni life that has indirectly been of great benefit to me. At events like toga party, career expo, BBQ’s and Market Day, students like me can socialise, while practising English, having fun and meeting new people.
What makes studying in Cairns great?
Qualifications are recognised worldwide. Fantastic facilities. Cairns is made up of many different cultural groups so international students don’t feel left out. Family here provide me with support.
What are your ‘5 top tips’ of places to visit/things to do in the Cairns region?
1. Swimming holes and beaches such as Crystal Cascade, Mulgrave river, Copperlode & Tinaroo Dams, Pebbly Beach, Goldsborough Valley, Ross & Lock, Josephine Falls, Babinda Boulders and Lake Placid. Within an hour of Cairns you can be in so many different places in any direction
2. Botanical garden, Red arrow, blue arrow, centenary lakes – within CBD area – sports
3. PCYC is a gathering spot for Filipino doing basketball and volleyball every Friday
4. Paid tourist activities: Green Island, Sky Rail, Fitzroy Island, Tjapukai – boomerang and spear throwing
5. Night clubs and Night life: Gilligans, Nightmarket, Liquid
How have you grown personally while being in Cairns?
My comprehension of language has improved, especially things that I couldn’t learn from the book like slang. Personally, I know I have grown but to pinpoint the areas is hard, I think this is something which needs to be answered by others on my behalf. My friends say I am more confident but I’m not sure.
How has being in Cairns positively impacted your life?
Being in a foreign country and having studied global management has allowed me to apply theory into practice and totally allowed me to immerse the culture. Cairns is the best place, and I don’t need to be in other places to know this. This is the place where you can relax, where it is not an option but it is a must. This is a realisation I never discovered in the Philippines, because every day you are the hustler; busy, busy, busy!
Describe two highlights from studying in Cairns
1. Opportunity to meet different people from different backgrounds.
2. Enjoying the lifestyle and climate – climate is similar to where I come from but lifestyle more enjoyable and different
Is there anything that you wish you knew before you came to Cairns?
I wish I had a basic grasp of common slang terms used in Cairns, as it definitely saves the day when you know you have to bring sausages or meat when you will have a Barbie (BBQ) party instead of thinking of dolls. Other slang terms are “sanga” and “she’ll be right”.
What will you miss about Cairns when you return home?
One word – EVERYTHING!
What would you say to future students who are thinking about studying in Cairns?
Studying in Cairns is expensive but well worth the experience.