In the spring of 1989, Beijing became the focus of world news as students led widespread protests against the government. The political situation led to the closure of many offices in the education sector.
I was a student completing my postgraduate degree in education, and at the same time working at a university. With the loss of work, I had time to think about what I wanted to do. A lot of my colleagues were applying to study overseas, and I began thinking about doing the same. In China having a piece of paper to show you have overseas qualification is like owning a pot of gold.
‘I am very happy with life, and I know it would have been very different if I didn’t come to Australia.’ - Wei Kito (course adviser and homestay host from China)
My experience studying abroad in Australia
I chose Australia as my study destination and applied to study education at the University of Tasmania. I felt very excited about starting a new life with new experiences – but I also went through a big culture shock. Studying in another country was very, very different. I had a lot of embarrassing experiences and was not used to being on time for my appointments. My teachers got fed up with me.
Practicing my English skills
Getting used to the customs was not the only challenge. I also had difficulty with the language. Inside the university, I could get by because the teachers and staff were helpful, but outside the campus, I had difficulty understanding the locals when I would do my shopping and banking. I got lost many times because I was not confident speaking up, but people were very friendly and always helped me out.
Eventually, I moved to homestay accommodation with an English lady who was very patient with me. I would read to her and she would help me with my speaking skills. I also had a classmate who became my tutor, and he helped me with my writing skills.
New opportunities and freedom to make my own choices
I was very happy when I was studying in Tasmania. I enjoyed my achievements, the opportunities that were available and the freedom to make my own choices. These things are so easy to take for granted, but they were things that were not available to me in China.
I decided to do my masters for another 1.5 years. After completing my master degree, I enrolled in a diploma in Business Management to further increase my employment prospects. I eventually found work at the migrant resource centre which would kick off my career in employment and education, specifically in helping migrants and international students.
On my third year in Tasmania, I got my permanent residency. Then I met my husband, got married and had a son. Seven years ago I came to Melbourne to seek more opportunities and for a change of life. I now have a job I enjoy advising students at RMIT University. My son Alexander is now 17 years old, and will soon be joining me here in Melbourne to study at university.
I am very happy with life, and I know it would have been very different if I didn’t come to Australia.
I have witnessed how IELTS helps fulfil dreams
Back in 1990, I didn’t have to take an English language test, but my work puts me in contact with international students who need to demonstrate they have English communication skills by taking the test. I promote IELTS test to my clients and students and believe in its capacity to enable people to achieve their goals.
I also offer homestay accommodation to international students and have witnessed close hand how the students would prepare for IELTS. Their main goal is to build the communication skills they need to achieve their IELTS score and then they can plan their future.
My brother also took IELTS to come here to Australia. He’s now been here for seven years, married his high school girlfriend and now has a two-year-old son. They just bought their house and are building their business.
I hear many of these success stories every day – and they start with the first step of taking an IELTS test.