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Since arriving in Geelong from his home country of India in 2020, Sarbjeet Singh’s academic and professional pursuits have only gone from strength to strength. Not only has Sarbjeet’s enthusiasm for his fellow students’ wellbeing resulted in his election as 'Campus Coordinator' for the Deakin University Student Association, but his enthusiasm for the wellbeing of his new community of Geelong is just as admirable.

It’s no surprise that in 2023 Sarbjeet won both a Geelong Youth Award for his dedication to community service and was also named International Student of the Year at the Victoria Premier’s Award. Having recently graduated with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours), Sarbjeet remains committed to being a mentor to his fellow students while also working hard for his bayside community. We spoke with Sarbjeet (nicknamed Sunny) to learn more about his remarkable student journey, which began from his local IDP branch. 

How did your journey from Chandigarh, India to Geelong, Australia begin? 

My journey began after I finished my year 12 studies in India. I wanted to study Engineering and started looking into different universities around India. However, after sitting in the entrance examination, I was not able to get into the university that I wanted. Therefore, I decided to study overseas and started researching the study abroad pathways.  


How did you first hear about IDP? 

When I was researching the study abroad pathways, I came across some leading education agents including IDP. IDP stood out because of its comprehensive website that provided a step-by-step guide to studying abroad. The website not only provided valuable information on university rankings but also included detailed fee breakdowns and available scholarships. I then visited the nearest IDP branch and was impressed by their level of detail and professionalism.  


Was Australia always on your radar as a potential study destination? Were you considering any other places to undertake your Civil Engineering degree? 

Upon thorough research and insightful consultations with IDP, I discovered that Australia boasts world-class education facilities, particularly in the field of Engineering. I also found out several leading universities in the country offered enticing scholarship options. As I delved into understanding the living culture in Australia, it became evident that the nation was home to some of the friendliest people in the world. Additionally, the weather in Australia closely aligns with that of my home country, minimizing the adjustment I would need to make. This combination of excellent educational opportunities, welcoming communities, and familiar weather made Australia an ideal choice for my academic pursuits. 

Which IDP office in India did you go through? 

I went through the IDP Moga office, which is an office located near Chandigarh in Punjab.  


How did the IDP counsellors in India help you choose the degree and institution most suited to your interests and needs? 

I always wanted to study Civil Engineering and IDP helped me discover my needs to what kind of an institution I wanted to join. I realized that I wanted a university that was very hands-on with its Engineering teaching, and which had a regional campus. With the help of IDP consultants, we shortlisted a few universities where I wanted to apply. IDP's support extended beyond mere recommendations; they facilitated meaningful engagements with representatives from the shortlisted universities. These discussions allowed me to gain deeper insights into each institution's approach to teaching Engineering. Following careful consideration, I made the discerning choice of Deakin University. 

Deakin stood out due to its practical and immersive approach in the Civil Engineering course, aligning perfectly with my learning preferences. Additionally, Deakin was able to offer me a scholarship which further solidified my decision. 



India and Australia are seemingly so different from one another, geographically and culturally. What was the first big “culture shock” moment you had after arriving in Australia? 

The first big culture shock for me was the informal and laid-back nature of the Australian community. They are relaxed about everything and even a small victory means celebration. In India, you would not call your professors by their names. However, in Australia students refer to the professors by their first names. You also do not need to seek permission from the professors when leaving or entering a class. These were some things which came to be a big shock.  


What were some of the key ways Deakin and IDP counsellors helped you to settle in to your new destination? 

IDP offered ongoing support to me even after I arrived in Australia. IDP was available over the phone to guide me and answer any questions that I may have. Deakin was also very supportive, and they provided me with some tailored orientation programs where I got to learn more about life in Australia, as well as life as a Deakin University student. During my initial days, with participation in university orientation sessions and engaging with the student community, I became better prepared for the start of my student journey in Australia. Deakin also had orientation ambassadors who were students themselves, and who could better relate to me and provide me with necessary initial guidance.  


Tell us about your weekends – what do you like to do during your downtime? 

Right from my day one in Australia, I fell in love with the coffee culture and beautiful beaches. During my free time, I go to the beaches for a walk and have a coffee. I am an outdoorsy person and I love road tripping with friends. I plan frequent road trips and try to explore the beautiful Australian countryside. I also enjoy volunteering in my spare time and working for the community. 


You’ve become very involved in both the student community and the local Geelong community. You’ve also become a peer mentor and a Success Coach to your fellow students. What inspired you to get involved in these roles? 

I still remember that during my first day at Deakin, I was greeted by a student ambassador who guided me through the university. Then I was involved in a peer mentor program at my university. My mentor in this program was a student who helped to teach me about life as a student in Australia. I felt more confident in talking to these student mentors as they were able to relate more closely with me.  

This inspired me, and I involved myself with the peer mentor and success coach program to give back to the student community. This not only allowed me to contribute to the well-being of the student community but also presented an opportunity to develop essential transferable skills such as communication and leadership.  


You recently completed your Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours). What’s next for you? 

I have already got a job in my field of study, and I plan to work in the industry and gather some experience. I want to keep myself involved within the industry, and I am planning to join some professional organisations to help me learn more and network with professionals. Australia has become my home over the past four years, and I've developed a deep affection for the country. Considering my long-term plans, I am now exploring permanent migration pathways to Australia. This exciting prospect aligns with my commitment to both personal and professional growth in this vibrant and welcoming nation. 


What’s been the best part of undertaking your education in Australia, and specifically in Geelong? 

Geelong is such a nice place. It’s like a mixture between a city and a country town. The best part of undertaking my studies in Geelong would definitely be its community and beautiful landscapes. I found the local community in Geelong to be lovely and very supportive of international students. I have also been able to make many friends within the local community. Geelong is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia and I love going for a walk around those beaches in my free time.  


What’s some advice you would give to other prospective international students who aren’t sure how or where to start their overseas study journeys? 

I would highly encourage the students to do their own research. It is very important to study something that you are really passionate about. Undertaking university studies is not an easy decision, and it’s really important to study something that you are interested in as it will make your journey a lot easier. Be sure to also seek support from someone who is professional and really experienced in international education.  


For more information on how to build your institution's brand awareness in India, contact IDP's India Destination Manager, Pratibha Sen: pratibha.sen@idp.com  

Vincent Dwyer
Vincent Dwyer29 February 2024