NAS Opinion Editorial — Welcoming international students like no Australian university has done before.

Emma Woythaler
Emma Woythaler

Let’s take it back a few years, shall we? It’s 2007 and I have just arrived in Australia to study at RMIT as an international student. Though I practice some English — mostly from what I have learned in my previous school years and from watching American sit-coms with subtitles — I am nowhere near fluent or comfortable enough to hold a full conversation with a fast-speaking, speech-slurring, slang-using Aussie. I adore attending RMIT; right in the city centre, wonderful facilities, amazing professors and fascinating classes. There is just one thing missing… A space dedicated to communication and collaboration between classmates. A space in which I am comfortable to discuss assignments, give my opinion and advice, and ask for that of my peers.Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be that girl today, instead of ten years ago. Not only would I be ten years younger again — not worrying about grey hairs slowly appearing and waking up to what seems to be a new wrinkle in my forehead —, but I would have the chance of experiencing New Academic Street [NAS] at RMIT’s city campus. NAS is, to me, not only the greatest addition any Australian university has brought to its campus, students and staff, but it also makes RMIT the ideal destination for international students to come study on exchange.

It’s no secret that one of the biggest fears students have when studying abroad is not finding a community in which they feel comfortable and welcome. This was one of my issues when studying at RMIT all those years ago. I savoured my time sitting on the State Library grass enjoying the Australian sun, yet I couldn’t help but feel that I was lacking a community. I was yet to find my crowd, feeling like Bambi on ice in my plight to form friendships. NAS provides RMIT students with collaborative spaces that encourage students to make meaningful connections or simply bond over a mutual disdain for a looming deadline. NAS presents students with opportunities to communicate and network in a stress-free, comprehensive environment. I have seen students, whom I know would never dare to interact or engage with classmates simply from fear of being misunderstood or miscommunicated with, become more confident and team-focused within NAS’s student spaces. The university has finally made communication and collaboration accessible to all its students making, in my opinion, RMIT the ideal university for international students to study on exchange.

Of course, some might argue: “There are many universities around the country that have collaborative spaces” — implying that NAS is not that special — to which I would answer “Indeed there are, but NAS does not just offer collaborative spaces to students!”. I always say that entering NAS is like entering a mini Melbourne. Filled with lanes, pop-ups, food stalls, greenery and a state of the art library, it’s impossible to get bored. I sometimes find students wandering around different precincts of NAS during mid semester break!

NAS offers a numerous amount of opportunities to all RMIT students to be creative, start a business, and find a passion, which is an element I find to be truly extraordinary and have yet to see in any other Australian university. Whether a student decides to build a book club, tutor in a different language, open an exotic food stall for a few days, or host an event for a cultural holiday, NAS gives RMIT students the chance to try it all, which I also find fantastic for international students to form or become apart of a community.

A revolutionary addition to RMIT that sets the university apart from any other in the country, the New Academic Street project connects the City campus to Melbourne’s CBD – allowing students to work in a collaborative, stress-free, and inspiring environment. But not only this, it also encourages students to become part of a welcoming community, no matter where they are from or what language is their first. I wholeheartedly believe that with the addition of NAS to RMIT’s city campus, the university has become the ideal destination for international students to study on exchange in Australia.

For more information on NAS, click here.

For more information about studying at RMIT, click here.

This piece is a student work, some details may not be completely accurate.

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