From Jakarta to Sydney, Ryan broadens his horizons.

New experiences keep Outstanding Graduate winner Ryan excited.
New experiences keep Outstanding Graduate winner Ryan excited.

Outstanding Graduate prize winner Ryan Widjaja likes to discover new things. He says one of the best things about his experience at UTS College was the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. “Up to that point in my life,” he says, “most of my friend were Indonesian. They were either in the same school or they lived very close to me. Coming to UTS College as an international student, meeting people who speak different languages and look different from you, it’s exciting. I met Australians, I met a bunch of Vietnamese friends, Chinese friends, and Singaporean friends. So many new connections – new horizons.”

Live Online was a pleasant surprise
He commenced his Diploma of Communication straight after completing high school in Jakarta. The pandemic forced his final years of school online, which he didn’t enjoy, and he did not have high expectations around studying for his diploma online. He says, “After all my Zoom fatigue, I was genuinely surprised by Live Online. UTS College put so much effort into creating a nice learning environment. They made the learning experience as comfortable as possible. It was really cool.” Ryan especially appreciated the high level of support available. “The teachers always respond to your emails – they’re always there to help you and they’re very accepting and considerate,” he says.

Now in Sydney, Ryan has commenced his Bachelor of Communication and is very happy to be studying on campus. “It feels good,” he says. “I don’t think I’ve had face-to-face classes in about two years, so it’s very refreshing. Campus life is something new, something exciting. It’s real and you can feel it. I’m surprised by how nice the buildings are too, and how easy it is to navigate. My favourite places are the library and the Alumni Green. They look so nice, and they’re both great places to chill and hang out. And the library’s an excellent place to study. My favourite place off-campus is the Haymarket area. It’s close by and has so many good restaurants and places to shop for groceries.”

Experiencing Australia for the first time
This is Ryan’s first time in Australia. He says, “When borders reopened, I was relieved but nervous at the same time. Back at home, I live with my parents, I have my friends, and we all speak the same language. This is a new life. It’s my first time living on my own, abroad. It’s nerve-wracking, but I made a promise to myself. I’m going to try new things, because the way I think about it, if I stay at home in my comfort zone I won’t learn new things – I won’t grow.”

One of the first things he did when he arrived – after sorting out practicalities like a local phone, bank account, and a place to stay – was to catch up with the friends he’d made online. “That felt great,” he says, “we could really get to know each other better face-to-face.” He hasn’t had a lot of time yet to explore Sydney. “I’ve looked around for a brief moment,” he says, “I haven’t had a chance to visit the beaches yet, but I’ve visited the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, and Luna Park. I’d love to see more in the future!”

He’s also enjoyed meeting the locals. “What has really surprised me about Australia is how diverse and friendly the community is. People I’ve never met before have helped me adjust to the new environment. I’m very surprised and thankful to have met such nice people.”

An unexpected confidence-boost
Ryan enjoyed a surprise confidence-boost when he learnt he had won the UTS College Outstanding Graduate award, a cash prize given to the student with the highest Grade-Point-Average (GPA) in their diploma group. The award was a complete surprise. “I was back in Indonesia when I found out. The email came through while I was still asleep, and I opened it first thing in the morning. I ran to my parents’ room and told them – I was just so giddy. They were surprised too. They’re not the type to put pressure on me about high marks, and none of us knew the prize existed. We didn’t have a big celebration because it was the peak of the pandemic, but we ordered a bunch of food.”

Learning to speak up
One thing Ryan has learnt from leaving his Jakarta comfort-zone is not to be afraid. “As communications students, we learn to speak our mind. We talk, we work together, and we’re not afraid to speak up. And it definitely helps the learning experience. It’s way more rewarding than keeping your questions to yourself. The advice I would give any student is don’t be afraid to communicate. Don’t be afraid to ask a million questions, a couple of questions, only one question – it doesn’t matter. Discuss things with your teachers. Because in the workforce, your managers and your co-workers won’t know anything if you don’t talk. If you don’t communicate properly, they’ll just assume everything’s fine. Always speak up. Also, don’t be afraid to try new things and learn to think differently. Even if it’s uncomfortable at first, you’re broadening your knowledge – your horizons. And that’s always a nice thing to have.”