for all new international students

Clothes mending workshop

When: Saturday 20th July 12pm – 4pm
Where: Ink & Spindle Studio Suite 206, 10 Elizabeth St Kensington VIC
Cost: $50
Students  want to know how to mend your clothes? Then this workshop is perfect for you. Run by the Handmakers factory this workshop will teach you how to mend clothes so that you don’t have to take this to the tailors.

image courtesy of the Handmakers factory
They have a supply of materials and sewing tools to assist you in your mending such as:
– Zips
– Buttons
– Fabric scraps
– Fusings
– Ribbons and trims
– Needles and threads
– Scissors
– Quick-un-picks
and more!

Participants will need to bring the following on the day:
– Sewing machine (we will have a few available on the day but if a lot of your mending requires the use of a machine we recommend bringing your own)
– Your mending pile!
– Any particular sewing tools or materials you may need (i.e. pins, scissors, thread, fabric, trims, chalk, quick-un-pick etc)

There will be some refreshments and tea and coffee.

Book now as spaces do fill up.


Big Mama

Big Mama is a well respected Korean place which has been around for a few years. It has been popular with many local and International students. It is a cheap eat after all with their big meals.

I study nearby at RMIT and have passed the place a few times but have never been in. Here this place was pretty at lunchtime with all the Asian students so that was a good sign. Another good sign too was that the wait staff were very friendly.  They must have been paid a lot of money.

It is a cash only place.

I loved all the decor on the walls. It reminds me of home. I think that is what they wanted to do.

The food was homely. I had the vegetable tempura with rice, miso soup and salad ($11.50) as well as the Agedashi tofu ($7.50- by the way I read some really great reviews about it).

I love getting the free condiments. What a nice way to start the meal. I loved the seaweed and the sweet potato. Not too sure about the pork one though. I think it needed a little bit more spice.

The tempura was cooked really nicely which I loved. It wasn’t too heavy or too oily. But there was too much rice and I couldn’t finish it all.

But I loved the sauce on the Agedashi tofu and in fact this was the best tofu I have ever had. I loved the moving bonito flakes which danced right in front of my eyes.

I would love to try the yummy bentos and hot pots next time I come. And I would love to bring Meld Magazine next time.

Big Mama on Urbanspoon

So Good’s almond milk

So good is a soy milk product by Sanitarium. Here they are high in protein and calcium to help nourish your bones. They have no animal fat, no cholesterol and no lactose.
Sanitarium is a health food company.

In the last few months So Good have released a new product called Almond milk. Almond milk has been the talk of the health food professionals as well Realfoods for a few years now. And they say that almond milk is good for you. In fact it is. It is meant to be slightly nutty.

It was really sweet. It had a little bit of chocolate in there. But it wasn’t as nutty as the real almond milk.

But its good for things like porridge and oats where you don’t want to add too much sugar to this.

It is about $2 in the supermarket for one litre.

Celebrating Independence day at PATS the Philly Way by Katherine

Independence day is an American holiday. It is widely celebrated at the many American restaurants in Melbourne.

So yesterday Sally and I went to PATS for dinner as we both had to work during the day.  By the time we got there it was 6:15PM. Strangely enough, it was not busy at the time. We had expected live music and partying seeing as it was Independence Day. Unlike TGI Friday(it is a chain, and its very expensive) this is a real Amercian place in Melbourne.

The place is on Bridge road at the side where all the eateries are. It is next to Fritz gelato. The tram stop is about a one minute walk from there

About five other people reviewed the place. It had opened at the beginning of last year.

There was a younger lady that was friendly towards us, having just started. But the older person seemed a bit sullen.

The bathrooms are out the back and behind a door.

They have great WI-FI ( I don’t know if its for free as we didn’t try this).
Here they have the most authentic cheesesteaks (see cultural notes below) that I have ever tried. Sally and I both ordered cheesesteaks ($14.95 each). There was an Independence day special where you can add the extra Jalapeno poppers (see cultural notes) and drink for a mere $3. We did that and we also shared some cajun fries (about $5 for a large serve).

The cheesesteaks were so cheesy and they were massive. Now if you are allergic to cheese and dairy probably not a good idea to have this (there are other non cheesy options on the menu, even vegetarian). There is just so much meat in there. I thought the bread was a little on the sweet side. Sally thought that it was just ok.

The jalapeno poppers were so good. But they too were cheesy.

We loved the chips a lot. They were nicely flavored. You can choose your seasoning such as spicy, Cajun and there’s a few others.

Cultural notes:
Jalapeno poppers- they are a deep fried canape in America. They are popular with Americans. The Jalapenos are stuffed with lots of cheese and herbs. Jalapenos are the green, mild peppers.

Cheesesteak- this is like a hotdog except it has sliced or diced steak or chicken inside the roll. There is melted cheese in there. Some people like to have this with onion. This is very popular in Philadelphia.

We’ll be back for more American food I’m sure. That is when we don’t feel like expensive crap from TGI. And I hope they get featured in Meld Magazine’s discounts for next year.

PATS The Philly Way on Urbanspoon

Pho 102 Saigon

In the block arcade is a tiny little Vietnamese cafe by the name of Pho 102 Saigon.

Here it is run Vietnamese and its a cute little kitchy cafe in the heart of the city.

It is a self service place. You order and you pay and then they call your number when the food is ready.

There are no bathrooms here . You have to go across the road to David Jones or Australia on Collins.

Here I ordered a spring rolls with vermicelli ($8.90) and an iced coffee ($3.50). The iced coffee had so much ice in it and little coffee in it. I would have liked less ice and more coffee.

The spring rolls and vermicelli looked like there was just only a tiny bit but there was a lot. And it was moreish for the price paid. But I would have loved to see more spring rolls in there though

Hmm if I was to pick one Vietnamese cafe in the city. I’d pick this one as this one is better than the others.

Pho 102 Saigon on Urbanspoon

Navitas information session

Kickstarting your career

Students do you want to find out about how to find work in Australia? If so read on.

I was invited by Anna at Navitas to attend an information session yesterday. The seminar started at 2:30pm and finished at 4pm. It was held at the Navitas office at 206 Bourke st, Melbourne.There was free food and drink.

The one thing I learnt was to be on time.

Challenges faced by International students
* Lack of communication
* Not having relevant experience
* Cultural difference between Australia and in the home countries. In Australia people often have after work networking drinks with their boss.
* Lack of understanding about Australian workplace environment.
* Companies don’t like to hire people without PR. It can be a real barrier

There was a panel consisting of:
John Drennan from Navitas
Hari Pasad from Softball Aus. He works in Finance
Margery Neoh from Navitas
Nasir Uddin who is an IT analyst.

The things that they emphasized on are
* Know what you want to do in the next five to ten years time. Where do you see yourself? If you want to work in a big firm, get a list of the companies and then go to their website. More often than not they will have a lot of jobs on offer and the list changes from time to time.
* Know what you are good at and apply for things that you are good in. Go for the medium sized companies. Accountants can work anywhere and everywhere. Your skills are transferable
* Networking is a must. About 70% of jobs are advertised through your networks. Always follow up with your networks. Go to networking events within your industry- there are bound to be some. At networking events, have some business cards ready. They only $20 to print.
* Being able to speak more than one language is a must for most big firms as some of them do require you to go overseas.
* Doing extra circular activities is also a must as it shows that you are a team player.
* Working in fast food chains and restaurants is also another must as it shows that you follow procedure and that you are a team player.
* The first six months working in a new firm are always tricky.
* Look for jobs on you uni’s website as they always have new jobs every two days
* start looking for part time jobs before you graduate. Put yourself out there. You are bound to get numerous rejections so do keep applying. You gain more experiences by going to interviews.
* You have to be willing to learn and soft (people skills) are a must.
 * Volunteer- Rotary clubs are always looking for volunteers in every field. You should volunteer for a not for profit organisation
* Proofread your resume. If English is your second language, get a native English speaker/local person to do it. Don’t have spelling and grammar mistakes in there as it will just go in the bin.
* Don’t apply for a job through a recruitment agency as they will only target the most successful people.

The perfect candidate is someone:
* With the right attitude that wants to work for the comapny/business
*Has done their research
*Personality- it has to fit with the team. If you extra circular activities on your resume it shows just that.

Masters vs Bachelor
Do you think its better to do your Masters straight after your bachelor?

No. Get some work experience first. You struggle to get jobs after your Masters.

Good luck with your hunt and you can find Navitas on Facebook

The Couch Welcomes International and Local students

The amount of International students has grown over the past two years. But also the local students have come as well to mingle with others and have fun.
 The Couch is now a place where anyone can hang out in.

Also the services has increased. Now there are language classes as well as salsa classes where students have a chance to mingle with each other. There are still the free meals and drinks for all and the piano and Internet.

They have regular outings for students which has become more frequent.

This is a great way to make friends

They are located at: 69 Bourke St Melbourne 3000.

The best times to come are on Sundays-Thursdays 5:30pm-9:30pm (hours subject to change)

Photo essay: Bourke st at night

Students here is another photo essay. This time it is about Melbourne at night in particular Bourke st. Bourke st is one of Melbourne’s busiest and biggest streets and it is a wonderful hive of activity at night. We wanted to take lots of photos of this and so we did.

Gong de Lin

Gong de Lin is a Chinese and vegetarian place. Where’s the beef loved the place and so do the other vegetarians in Melbourne.

Finally a vegetarian place close to RMIT. And that is cheap too! Yay! They have been opened for five months now. Their dumplings are certainly cheap and if you share with someone the cost of the mains is quite reasonable.

Finally a Chinese place that has decent staff too. Although service wise it can be a bit slow. At least they smiled and they were attentive.

The thing I didn’t really enjoy is the small lift. It was cramped in there and is the only way of going up or down. Would be a good idea to put some stairs in.

The place though however is clean and simple, which I like. I love all the white space and the flowers.

The bathrooms too are easy to access and are clean.

Although this place is vegetarian they do have mock meat dishes on the menu. They also have lunch specials.

I was keen on trying out my two favourites: the silver thread bun and the vegetarian deep fried pancake ($5 each). The deep fried pancake was really bland. This I did not like. They could have put some spring onions in there. Also some salt is needed.

On the other hand I loved the silver thread bun. It was sweet and I loved to pull it to bits. It is fun that way.

The drink (iced green tea with lemon- $3.50) came with a lime instead, but I loved the tanginess. I think the drink was just a tad bit sweet.

I don’t know. Its a mixed bag of good and bad. I might just come back to try out their noodles and rice dishes because it did look good when they brought it to other people’s tables.

Gong dè Lin on Urbanspoon

International students pay about 3 times more than locals in fees

Image of how much an International student has to pay. Image courtesy of

Local students pay around $9000 per year and International students pay around $30000+ per year. They are not entitled the HECS HELP, FEE HELP Loan that the locals are entitled to. These loans are government loans to which only locals are entitled to. This is where the government pays some or all of a student’s fees.

So where does the funding go? Some of the fees subsardise the local fees of about $1500 per local student (according to this report by the Group of eight). But the rest goes to research and funding for things like libraries and support services for students.

The locals have what is known as a Commonwealth supported place. That means that the place is supported by local government.  Only Australian and New Zealand residents can have government support.

Fees have risen. In 2011 it used to be that Internationals pay about $16000. Now Internationals pay around $25000

Contribution Band (by discipline) Annual contribution for local students
Band 1: humanities, behavioral science, social studies, education, clinical psychology, foreign languages, visual and performing arts, nursing $5,868
Band 2: mathematics, statistics, computing, built environment, other health, allied health, science, engineering, surveying, agriculture $8,363
Band 3: law, accounting, administration, economics, commerce, dentistry, medicine, veterinary science $9,792

 This is what domestic students like Katherine have to pay. In some cases International students have to pay 200% more of what local students pay.

Undergraduate course fees (business and commerce students) International Local (CSP)
University of Melbourne $33,344 $9,792
Monash University $34,000
Swinburne University $20,950
RMIT University $23,040

But not all local students have CSP places. Some like Masters and PhD students pay the same price even more than International students. Students doing the Juris Doctor have to pay $30000+ depending on the uni that they go to.

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