University of Newcastle's international students embrace fresh start abroad

All smiles: Denis Xavier, Cristina Pascual and Mei Pentecost didn't expect Callaghan's bush setting or large footprint. Picture: Simone De Peak
All smiles: Denis Xavier, Cristina Pascual and Mei Pentecost didn't expect Callaghan's bush setting or large footprint. Picture: Simone De Peak

MEI Pentecost and Cristina Pascual arrived in Australia with plans of combining their studies with travelling and meeting new friends, but soon realised they’d have to add a new item to the top of their to-do list.

“I was not expecting it to be as humid as it is here in Newcastle, but we’ve finally bought fans,” Ms Pentecost said.

“The common room in Edwards Hall is the only room with air conditioning so we’ve been spending a lot of time there playing cards and watching movies.”

Ms Pentecost from Arkansas, Ms Pascual from the Canary Islands and Denis Xavier from Kuwait are among the 1114 international students from more than 90 countries commencing study at the University of Newcastle this month. They will join 10,196 domestic students.

“This is one of those places I’ve always wanted to come, I think we have a fascination with Australia,” said Ms Pentecost, 20, who will stay for one semester of her environmental engineering degree.

“I’m hoping I make new friends and discover myself.

“I did all my schooling in the same small town and wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone.”

Ms Pascual, 20, spent the past year studying for her visual communications degree in Milan but said she wanted to spend 2018 somewhere “more coastal”.

“Newcastle is really safe and clean and people are really open and friendly,” she said.

“I love that everyone wears flip flops or no shoes, it’s so cool and relaxed – I think you live a good life here.”

Mr Xavier, 24, will stay for 18 months of his masters of engineering management and praised the “much better facilities”.

Orientation week runs to February 23. Semester one starts February 26.