When Sri Lankan lawyer Amanda Abeysinghe was preparing to move to Melbourne for study in 2022, her family had to stockpile petrol to make sure it could happen.
“On top of the pandemic, the economic and political crisis in Sri Lanka made everything extremely difficult,” Amanda explained.
“To pay a course fee out of Sri Lanka, students had to be on a waiting list for months to make the transfer, and even to come to the airport my father had to make sure we had a reserve of petrol, because there were shortages.”
A practicing civil lawyer, the 28-year-old said she felt guilt and sadness about leaving her family and country, but also determination to tackle the next stage of her career, and give back to her home country.
It’s that passion that’s driving Amanda to seize every opportunity as a CQUniversity Master of Business Management student.
“As soon as I arrived at CQU Melbourne, I joined the campus life committee (CLC), where I met the campus team. I volunteered to the university during events and other student engagement programs.
"I was fond of the goals of the CLC that included enhancing the student experience on campus; so I was proud to be a part of it. I was also eventually fortunate enough to be offered a a job on campus a few months later,” Amanda explained.
“I spent time working in reception as a university assistant, I loved being the first point of contact on campus for so many students and staff – so different to my job as a lawyer back home, but it also really opened my eyes to the skills I have, and the importance of being open to new opportunities!”
Amanda is now a Student Social Ambassador at CQU, with roles including organizing and handling student events, increasing student engagement on campus as well as content-making for the Instagram account @cqunimelbourne that she encouraged the campus to launch.
The self-professed “people person” was also recently appointed as a Study Melbourne Ambassador, supporting the Victorian Government initiative to engage and celebrate international students in the city.
“The CQU campus team recommended I apply for Study Melbourne Ambassador role, and it has opened me up to so many networks and opportunities” she said.
In March, Amanda was part of a panel for Melbourne Now – International Student Day at the National Gallery of Victoria, sharing her perspective on challenges and opportunities for international students in Melbourne.
She encouraged international students to persist, and requested the student community to show each other kindness
“No matter how difficult it is to start afresh, I hope international students will say yes to as many things as they can, and also be open to so many things outside of work and study in this city,” she said.
“And for all of us, international students and the people around them, be kind to everybody.
“We come after leaving behind our families, and the whole life we had before – so the support we receive is so meaningful and special. Especially when it’s from within the student community itself since no one knows the struggles better than someone who has gone through the exact same thing”
Amanda highlighted supportive lecturers, and the Academic Learning Centre at CQU, as ways she’s experienced kindness since she arrived in Melbourne.
“Often a deadline or a challenging assignment feels like a crisis, but knowing you can ask for help and there are people at CQU who offer it, that is true kindness!” she said.
Throughout the difficulties of getting to Australia, Amanda said she put a lot of research into where and how she would study.
"I’d already studied law and a management degree, so doing my Master of Business Management was a perfect next step – and CQUniversity’s degree allowed me to major in HR, the identical masters to my bachelor specialized in HR,” she explained.
“I love the study! And really love it when I can see a lot of effort put into the course content, which is absolutely the case at CQU.
“In our lives, none of us can stop being a student, so it makes sense to me to study things that keep me motivated and excited, and I’m definitely doing that at CQU.”
In Term 1 2023, CQU Melbourne has welcomed more than 760 new students, with nearly 1600 students studying on campus, and the majority international students.
To learn more about study options in Melbourne and across Australia, visit cqu.edu.au/study.