“I was originally supposed to go to the UK, but fell in love with Melbourne when I came to visit friends in the winter of 2016. I changed my path and never looked back,” Shaneal Diiren tells us.
He has since taken the leap and crossed the world from Malaysia to Australia to get his BSc in Geology at University of Melbourne. For the 25-year-old, it’s definitely turning out to be quite the adventure. We spoke to him to know more about his new life in the land Down Under:
What experience did you have prior to going to Australia?
I have always been one to lead and participate in events, anything to expand the horizon and connect me with people! I have worked as a Divemaster, First Aid Instructor, Marketing Spokesperson for Sri KDU International School, and a teacher assistant before coming to Australia in 2017.
Why did you choose to study Australia?
I actually fell in love with the arts scene in Melbourne, alongside the vast amount of natural beauty there is to explore. I am always busy learning new skills and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I think Australia has among the best geology, given its vast array of natural features and history.
Tell us more about your degree.
I graduated from the University of Melbourne with a BSc in Geology in November 2019. It was an absolute treat studying here. The study of this ancient world has brought about many great adventures as we did fieldwork for days to weeks at a time in the state of Victoria.
In addition, seeing old volcanoes, rock formations that were billions of years old and experiencing nature were some of my favourite things about studying abroad. Did you know some of the world’s first flowering plant fossils are located on the Great Ocean Road?
What do you like most about Australia?
The arts and social scene. I even managed to organise a Malaysia Gala in 2017, which catapulted my understanding of the student culture here. Also, there is a great fitness scene here – The Arnold Sports Festival is a must-see for anyone with an inclination towards health or bodybuilding!
Apart from what I mentioned above, I love hiking trips – a memorable one for me is Mount Feathertop, the second highest peak in Victoria. All the outdoor appeals aside, I also love the bustling city life – its vibrant fashion scene is something I am grateful to experience. I even played a side-character in a short film last year, which leaves me wanting more!
What advice do you have for others planning to come to Australia?
If it’s Australia, watch out for the swooping magpies in spring – they get rather defensive. Also, get out of your comfort zone! It is a time to explore, grow, and understand your place in the world just a little more. Most of all, make the best out of every situation, I believe university life is a foundation of sorts and shapes how you will carry yourself moving forward.
Any future plans?
I got a few things lined up, but the pandemic has delayed them for now. I plan to travel for work once that’s allowed, delve more into fitness as a personal trainer, and of course, explore the great beauty of this country and the world.
We only have one lifetime, and I wish to live without regret. Don’t forget to enjoy the process!
This interview has been edited for clarity and length