Swam Yee’s Sydney life is off to a flying start.

Outstanding Graduate award winner Swam is happy to be in her dream country.
Outstanding Graduate award winner Swam is happy to be in her dream country.

At Yangon International Airport, preparing to board a plane for Australia, Swam Yee Myint checked her phone to find a message from UTS College. She had won an Outstanding Graduate award for achieving the highest grade-point-average (GPA) in her Diploma of Engineering. She remembers the moment well. “I was travelling with my friend, so she knew first, then I called my parents right away. They were so happy.” 

That flight to Sydney a few short months ago was the final stage of Swam’s long journey to study on the UTS campus, and the good news injected an extra spark of excitement into her trip. Her dreams of studying abroad had been put on hold by the pandemic and Swam completed her diploma from her home in Myanmar. It was her first experience of online learning, and she wasn’t sure she would manage. “It was hard at first,” she says, “I didn’t know how it would work, but the teachers were really caring and supportive. UTS College was like a family in some ways. I could talk to the teacher any time. I could send emails and they would reply immediately. They explained things really well.”

Meeting friends from all over the world
She also enjoyed the group work that was part of her course, and the opportunity to meet friends from all around the world. “I really love to meet new people who are different from my culture and talk about things in their country, or in my country. During my first group project in semester one, I made three new friends – one from Nepal, one from Indonesia, and one from Sydney. They were all really kind and I had a great time with them,” she says. “We always had really good conversations.”

Arriving in Sydney had its challenges at first. “I remember pulling my luggage around trying to find my dorm,” she says, “but being on campus is really cool. Before, I only saw it in pictures. And now I’m in the lecture room with my friends – meeting them here in Australia. I still can’t believe it sometimes.”

Learning new things every day
Swam is now busy with second year of Bachelor of Engineering at UTS, majoring in Civil Engineering. She says, “I’m interested in drawings, buildings, and infrastructure, and I’m happy to be learning new things every day. There’s so much to learn about engineering.” Noticing her abilities in physics and maths, Swam’s parents encouraged her interest in engineering. Her father was a particularly strong influence. “He’s a mechanical engineer and since I was young, he inspired me a lot. I was always amazed by the way he thinks and solves problems and I want to be a good engineer like him. I want to help people with what I’ve learnt,” she says. She was also inspired by a teacher at UTS College. She says, “His name is Ziad, and he’s from civil engineering too. His class was really cool. He showed us his projects and how he built them, and his lectures were really interesting. I’d like to be like him one day, a really good civil engineer.”

Everything will be okay if you do your best
When she completes her degree, Swam wants to keep learning. “I’d like to study for a PhD, maybe in Australia. I want to work first and get experience and then go back to my country and contribute to my people – to make their lives easier and happier,” she says.

Swam feels settled in Sydney now, and has advice for international students. She says, “Don’t be stressed. Everything will be okay if you do your best. I’ve been talking to a girl who’s just arrived from my country. She’s studying engineering at UTS College, and sometimes comes to me for advice. I just say, ‘don’t be stressed. You will be okay.’ It’s weird, but I haven’t been homesick yet. I’m so happy here. It was my dream – this is my dream country. I’m here now and I’m with my friends.”