Meet Nadya, a second-year Indonesian nursing student studying in Australia after moving from Indonesia just before COVID hit. She gives you a real insight into the experience of being an international nursing student in Australia during a pandemic.

We suggest you check out some of our other student content also.


Aloha everyone! My name is Nadya and I am a current second-year nursing student studying at Monash University. I came from Indonesia last year around February just before COVID hit, which I still consider myself lucky. This is actually my second time studying abroad since I had previously studied in China for 9 years as well. However, I still do encounter different kinds of challenges I need to overcome and adapt to. Overall, I have enjoyed my studying life in Australia so far and I am looking forward to seeing what’s more ahead!

A little bit more about me is that I am a multilingual person and I enjoy learning foreign languages. I can speak Mandarin, Indonesian, English, a bit of Hokkien, Korean and I am trying to learn Spanish in my free time. Experience wise, I have been lucky enough to be able to work and accumulate experiences in different settings such as hospitality, aged care, acute care and COVID-19 related work since I arrived in Australia.

Why did you choose nursing?

At first, I wasn’t too sure what I would like to pursue as my future career. I have always been wanting to work in a healthcare-related setting. I was contemplating between pharmacy and nursing, but I came up with the decision of taking nursing since I think it suits my needs better at the end of the day. So that’s how I ended up majoring in Bachelor of Nursing.

After being exposed to the real nursing field and getting more familiar with the role, being a nurse means a lot to me in my opinion. It’s beyond just working in healthcare-related settings, but also to make difference in people’s lives. I love how nurses are widely involved in the process of delivering care, which means it is beyond only in the hospital but throughout the community and one’s lifespan too. It is also about improving people’s quality of life and ensuring that people are happy as people.

Why did you choose to study nursing in Australia?

I chose my university according to the degree that I would like to major in. Australia has a good reputation for its healthcare system, which attracted me to come and study nursing in Australia. The good future career pathway and development of nursing in Australia has also made me decided to study my degree here. Geographically, I find Australia is relatively close to my home country Indonesia, which will normally take me around 6 hours of flight.

What is it like as an international nursing student?

Being a university student in a foreign country was challenging for me at first, especially since our course started with online classes. I was worried about how I will make friends, how can I catch up with everything when it’s all in English and online and how do I even start an academic essay. However, our uni has been offering lots of supports with the academic writing, language support team and there is a study buddy program that gets you to know more of your fellows, which I find are all very supportive.

The nursing course structure includes theoretical and practical units, which are comprised of lectures, tutorials, workshops and practicals. During the first year, we started with units that taught us about Aboriginal and global culture, nursing research skills, human and anatomy and basic nursing skills. In the second year, we consolidate knowledge about nursing skills and focus more on the pathophysiology of diseases and pharmacological and non-pharmacological management. I am not yet too sure about third year, but I think it is more about teamwork and dealing with deteriorating patients. Hence, we learn a bit of everything throughout the course and learn further during placements too.

The fact that coming to Australia alone was a challenge for me and that I had to adapt to a whole new country at first kind of scared me too. However, as an international student, there are lots of online platforms through uni and social media that helped me to connect with other international students. It makes me feel more connected and involved.

Also, I found the Australian accent challenging when I first came, since I had never been exposed to it before I came here. But so far, it has been quite fun to learn more about Australian culture and to be able to adapt well in this country too. I am also looking forward to exploring more around Melbourne and doing lots of things that I couldn’t do during COVID. 

How do you fund yourself as an international student?

My parents supported most of my tuition fees so far. However, with the struggle and challenges we meet especially during COVID-19 and that my parents have to support 3 places of living expenses (Indonesia, China and Australia), I have been trying to help by working several jobs. I consider myself to be lucky enough to be able to get employed during COVID and lockdown and I managed to support my own living fee so far. I think studying abroad really challenges me to learn about how to be more independent and to manage my own finances properly.

How did COVID-19 affect your studies?

Being at home most of the time gave me plenty of time to study and prepare for my nursing courses. I spent lots of days studying at home in my first year since I was trying to get my head around and adapt to the whole uni student mode.

It honestly feels like year 13 and 14 for me since I haven’t really gotten the chance to explore uni life in person. However, I still consider myself lucky enough to be able to make lots of friends during the lockdown and I was still able to catch up with all of my studies. But hopefully, the situation will get better soon and I can get my third-year uni life in person. 

How do you prepare for classes?

I usually will keep a weekly planner to list out all my to-do-checklist and scatter throughout the weeks so I will not overwhelm myself. I try to keep them on track, so I won’t be procrastinating and cram everything towards the end. I find it helpful with managing my time and keeping up with the classes. While working on the weekly nursing content, I will make sure to understand the content instead of memorizing it.

I find this helps me a lot to know what I am doing and improves my critical thinking and nursing judgement skills. I also use the student forum to ask away any questions that I come up with, to make sure I get clarification and consolidate my understanding. Additionally, find a study group to study together will help to motivate you to study and getting to know more people too. When it gets near to exam period, you can try to make an exam revision planner plan ahead on what to be revised and keep track of your revising progress.

Where have you had some of your placements?

I had my first nursing placement in a geriatric rehab ward, which started off my nursing experience. It was more of a stage where I get a bit of taste of what nurses really do in real life. I got my second nursing placement in community mental health, where our mobile support team will go and do home visits to clients’ houses. It was really fun to see the other side of nursing, where it is out of hospital and more focuses on individuals’ quality of life.

I enjoyed my third nursing placement the most so far, which was also my first placement in acute care. I was allocated to an orthopaedic surgical ward and I did find myself improve a lot throughout the 3 weeks. It was overwhelming for me at the very beginning since it was a busy ward and where everything works differently from what I have experienced during my previous placements.

I went from asking my buddy nurse how to use a bedpan (since my previous geriatric placements mostly use continence pads rather than a bedpan) to actually handling 4 patients by the end of my placement. I was able to make a comprehensive shift planner, make sure that I administer their medications properly (under preceptors’ supervision) and other related nursing management and considerations. I have really learned a lot about managing. I quite like the fast pace in the orthopaedic surgical ward, and yes it is my favourite so far.

What are your tips to ace placements and make a good impression?

  • Try to revise as much as you can before your placement.
    • This will not only prepare your nursing knowledge but also help consolidate and improve throughout your placement.  
  • Make your own checklist on what is required from uni (i.e. formative and summative reports, feedback forms, declaration forms, clinical portfolios etc.)
    • Preparing a checklist ahead will clear up what you need for your uni and keep you on track of what you need to do during your placement to meet academic requirements.
  • Make your own list of weekly goals to achieve during your placement.
    • This will help you to achieve your placement goals bit by bit and empower you as a student nurse. You will also find yourself improving and ensuring that you make the most out of your placement.
  • Get yourself familiar with a shift planner and prepare one before each of your shifts.
    • You can search online for a template and develop a shift planner that works the best for you. This will help to organize what needs to be done during your shift and you can discuss with your buddy nurse to make it more comprehensive.
  • Utilize helpful resources such as an ISBAR template and take your opportunity!
    • During down time of the shift, I will try to fill in an ISBAR template to get myself more familiar with the handover system and patients’ histories. This will allow me to know more about my patient and the “what” and “why” should I do as a nurse when I encounter similar cases in the future.
    • I will also take the opportunity to practice doing handover to the other nursing staff during my placement. This may start off a bit scary, but hey practice makes perfect!
  • Bring your “willing to learn” attitude and embrace the process.
    • Being a nursing student, most of your placements will be allocated randomly. You may get allocated to somewhere you are interested in or somewhere you will never imagine yourself to be in.
    • It’s always important to realize that you can always learn something in every single thing. Even though you might not get your preferred ward, still go to try and explore the others, Nursing offers a wide range of specialities and wards, you will get to know which ward you enjoy or not the most and explore more about your nursing passion! Just embrace the process and enjoy your placement while you can!
  • Acknowledge that you are still learning.
    • It is okay to not know things. Nursing is not something we can expertise ourselves in since the beginning. Our nursing skills improve by clinical practices and nursing experiences. You might be confronted with the real nursing field during your placement, and it is okay to be.
    • Always reach out to your buddy nurse or clinical educators if you need any kind of support as they can be really helpful and supportive. If you are unsure about anything or uncomfortable doing anything, raise your voice and ask away the questions or concerns!
    • It never hurts to ask and double-check! Also, remember to give yourself encouragement and complement every now and then since you are doing great and learning new things! You will be proud at the end of your placement on how far you have improved.

What kind of nursing related jobs have you done so far?

I have had experiences as RUSON in Emergency Department as part of COVID-19 screening staff, where I will check ED visitors’ temperature, ask questions about COVID-19 symptoms and make sure that the visitors meet the mask requirement around the hospital.

Currently, I am working in vaccination clinics as vaccination dose preppers, where I will help with preparing doses to be administered and ensuring the successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccination. My jobs have mostly involved with COVID-19, but I consider it as a good opportunity to learn primary health care and what are the roles of different healthcare professionals in solving pandemics like COVID-19.

What kind of speciality do you want to get into?

So far, I have had nursing experiences in aged care, rehab, community mental health and orthopaedic surgical ward. I have enjoyed all of them so far and I don’t mind continuing my nursing in mental health or surgical ward. However, I find myself interested in critical care such as theatre nursing that involves pre-and post-operative and perioperative nursing, of which I haven’t had the chance to explore more. I would love to see how it is if I can get the chance during my future placements. Since there is always the “expectation vs. reality”.