Study Stories – John - Choose Brisbane

Study Stories – John

John Mateo

Hi! My name is John and I’m from Alicia, a small town in the province of Isabela, Philippines. My father came from a family of an Ilocano farmer and my mother’s relatives are fishermen in Mindanao. I am lucky to have a well-cultured family as it meant that I was exposed to more than one Filipino culture.

When I was in grade school, my classmates would tease me about my different accent. My Tagalog and Ilocano is not that pure as I spent most of my time with my mother and I got her "Cebuano tongue". It wasn’t easy to mingle with other kids during that time, and I used to be very shy and quiet in class. It didn’t help that I couldn’t be in the classroom without my mother sitting next to me, so I was teased for that as well. A few years later though I started to become more independent, more confident and started making friends with other students.

Looking back on this reminds me of the intimidation, and I was confronted with similar feelings arriving in Brisbane, a new country and new people. I had that same feeling of excitement and anxiety that I would get at the start of every semester. But now there was another challenge, having to speak in my third language, English. Luckily I was made to feel welcome and accepted by the amazing friends I made straight away.

John Mateo

I chose nursing with the hope of helping other people. I started my journey at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) when I was still working in Singapore. I didn’t have that much help and information how to get to QUT except from what is available from their webpage.

Most of my relatives and friends were in doubt of my plan, which was to apply for my own visa directly and get accepted to the university without seeking agent advice and support (because of my incorrect perception that agencies cost more). But I patiently followed the step-by-step process – from submitting my admission inquiry form to accepting the offer and applying for my student visa. It was a huge relief after nearly two months of processing all of my documents, enrolling to QUT and applying my visa, that it was a success!

The timing of my visa approval and the fast-approaching start of the semester left me with only one month to prepare for uni, resign from work and bid farewell to my friends and family. The next problem I’ve encountered was looking for accommodation in Brisbane, but I was lucky to have a friend who let me stay in his apartment for a few weeks while looking for my accommodation.

John Mateo

Studying abroad is not an easy task, and the struggle to adjust won’t be overcome overnight. It takes a while to get familiar with the way of life here in Brisbane. But once you have, you’ll find more friends, attend more events, and starting telling your friends at home to come join you.

Brisbane is not overpopulated, there’s no cranky vehicle horns, and it’s alwaaaays sunny. Spring is my favourite season here, because the jacaranda trees are blooming with purple flowers and it looks amazing. You can find me sitting under these trees at the University of Queensland, or at the City Botanical Gardens next to QUT Gardens Point campus.

I’m now in my final year of my study at QUT and Brisbane still manages to surprise me. Being one of the 2016 Brisbane International Student Ambassadors has amplified this new experience of making new friends and finding new places in Brisbane.

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