Shali Thevarasan was 12 when she, along with her parents and older brother, fled Sri-Lanka for a safer life in Australia.
While it was a relief to reach Australian shores, the University of Queensland physiotherapy student admits it was a huge adjustment.
“We didn’t know anyone, and my parents struggled while learning a new language, “Ms Thevarasan said.
“Thankfully, I was taught English because I went to a convent school in Sri Lanka, so I was interpreting everything for them.
“The major challenge for me was going straight to high school, because everything was digital, but back in Sri Lanka, everything was in paper form.
“I had to self-learn and watch YouTube videos to understand the concepts, so yeah, that was a bit tough.”
With determination and hard work, the now 21-year-old graduated school with flying colors and is in her first year Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Hons) program, with the help of UQ’s Refugee and Humanitarian ScholarshipGeneral Chat Chat Lounge
“UQ is a world-class university and the dedicated support it provided to refugees and temporary residents in Australia grabbed my attention,” Ms Thevarasan said.
“I am very sure that I have made the right decision to study at UQ by accepting the scholarship offer.”
Ms Thevarasan’s tuition fees are paid for, she receives a stipend to cover living expenses, and resides on campus recently opened Kev Carmody HouseGeneral Chat Chat Lounge
“Living on campus helped make a lot of friends at UQ and I can get counselling support anytime I need,” she said.
“It’s also a two-minute walk to the physiotherapy buildings and the University Library is just around the corner, so you can go there and study anytime.”
While Shali Thevarasan is loving her new life, she misses friends and family that remain in Sri Lanka, especially her grandmother.
“I was very close to her, and we still talk about her once a week, but I miss her food. I even miss her yelling at me all the time, “she laughed.
But she says doing the degree is the best thing that ever happened to her.
“I want to be a physiotherapist because I like helping people, and I like helping them be active,” Ms Thevarasan said.
“I see myself working in a hospital and helping people recover from surgery.”
Shali Thevarasan’s family won’t be proud.
Media: UQ Communications, [email protected], +61 (0) 429 056 139.