When Vito Harliyanto learned he’d won the Outstanding Graduate prize (for attaining the top marks in his UTS Insearch Diploma of IT), his celebrations began with a trip to the supermarket. If he and his fiancé were going to celebrate with a special dinner, it would have to be home-cooked as Sydney had just gone into its COVID-19 lockdown.
Fortunately, Vito, who attended culinary school in Singapore before coming to Sydney for his diploma studies, knows his way around the kitchen. “I just went to Woolies [Woolworths supermarket], got some fancy stuff and cooked myself,” he says. “We had a three-course meal with mushroom soup for an appetiser, steak and potatoes for the main course, and then watermelon cake for dessert."
Vito is now studying a combined Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Science in Information Technology at UTS.
He says, “UTS is famous for IT, but I also wanted to diversify myself into business. That’s why I mixed them. I really enjoyed my Diploma of IT. I think what I love is the fact that IT is ever-changing – always evolving. Every time you came to class you’d learn new things you didn’t know before. The lecturers and tutors were always updating themselves with the newest technology or information."
Still driven by a passion for cooking
Although he has great enthusiasm for business and IT, Vito has lost none of his passion for cooking. “The thing is, after my culinary diploma in Singapore, I realised that just knowing how to cook isn’t enough,” he says. “I need to know how to run a business – how to make it advanced and modern. That’s why I’m studying business and IT. I hope that after completing this degree, I’ll be fully equipped with the necessary information to start up a new business. I’d like to open a cooking academy."
Important life skills
The strong support he received from UTS Insearch when he began his studies in Australia is something that Vito appreciates. He says, “At UTS Insearch, you get more time to focus on yourself and the tutors and your peers. It helped me tremendously. I think, in general terms, the most important skills I’ve learnt are teamwork and communication. I can communicate and socialise with people better now.
Vito remembers the challenges of moving to Australia. “I was lucky to be at UTS Insearch, in a cohort of international students as well as locals. But there was some culture shock, especially with the language. I’d studied English at my International School in Indonesia, but I had to get used to deep Australian accents and a different way of communicating. It was not like the English we learnt at school."
A sense of achievement
By the end of his first semester, Vito knew he had adjusted successfully. “I discovered I’d won two awards. It’s my favourite memory from UTS Insearch – opening the emails that said I’d won a Dean’s Merit award for getting the highest GPA in my cohort, and the Medibank International Education Scholarship. I was surprised honestly, but really excited."
Despite the great sense of achievement that came with graduating and moving on to UTS, Vito says he was a little bit sad leaving UTS Insearch. “I really liked the way they did things, the tutors, and all the friends I made there. It’s a sad yet sweet feeling because I know UTS Insearch has prepared me so well. They pushed me as far as I could go, so I’d be ready to move on."
Find friends. Make connections
He has some advice for students who, like him, need to adjust to study in a new country. “Sometimes International students can be really apprehensive about approaching people," he says. "My advice is, right from day one, try your best to find friends and make connections. Those will really take you a long way. Those networks and friends not only mentally support you – they can help you with your assignments and with your personal stuff. Having good social connections makes everything go better for you."