My name is Nikolai and for the last 32 years I was walking upside down, relative to all Australians, because my home city of Saint-Petersburg is located exactly on the opposite side of the globe. To be honest, everyday life looks pretty much the same in both hemispheres.
I finished high school, then spent 6 years at university, and since then ran my own business which consistently grew. My business in Russia is a chain of retail shops with outdoor and camping goods. The website’s daily visit count is more than 40 000 unique users and we started this enterprise from scratch more than 10 years ago. We not only import products from overseas, or have direct contracts with major producers in Russia, but even have our own brand.
However, the dream of visiting the world’s largest island had never left me, even taking into account the fact that I managed to visit many of the surrounding major islands – Indonesia, Japan, and New Zealand.
Travelling to Australia
I felt that in order to further develop my business, I needed to move to a new level by gaining an international financial education. There were lots of options, but I stopped at Griffith University. As soon as I received my Confirmation of Enrolment and paused my job, distancing myself as much as possible from business processes to start my education – COVID started. That was really difficult because me and my wife were literally left ‘sitting on our luggage’, waiting for the borders to reopen.
We had been closely tracking the vaccination pace in Queensland, to finally be able to cross the border. By the middle of February 2022, we were able to buy air tickets from Singapore airlines.
The first breath of hot Australian air was so fresh that our legs were giving way from instant relaxation. We were concerned about finding work while we studied, but luckily my wife Ekaterina was able to use her health skills to find a role as an assistance nurse in aged care.
Starting at Griffith
My first trimester at Griffith was really great! I gained lots of new knowledge and excelled using my previous business skills. I am still waiting for my marks, but I hope to earn 3 High Distinctions in at least three of my courses.
Uni staff were really helpful, but I still concerned about finding a job while I studied. Luckily, Griffith’s Careers and Employment service helped me to master my resume, and several weeks later I was offered an internship from a financial management company. I was so happy at that moment because it can be hard to secure a job in finance without local experience.
To commute to my new workplace, I bought a bicycle and each work day I rode from our cozy apartment to the office, enjoying the sounds of Kookaburras laughing.
There is a huge Russian community in Brisbane – so our new friends gave us lots of useful advice regarding local banks, tax returns, transportation and even invited us to their home on the Gold Coast on weekends.
Dreams do come true
Obviously, living in any other country except Australia, it is almost impossible to see any marsupials, especially kangaroos, except by visiting the local zoo. Even there, the chance to meet these amazing animals with a strong long tail and funny front paws are relatively low. So, there is only one possibility to observe them in their natural habitat – travel to Australia!
Recently, Ekaterina and I visited a village close to the Gold Coast and for the first time in our lives saw a kangaroo in the wild!
For us that moment was literally breathtaking, and highly symbolic. We just hugged and started cry tears of happiness.
I can tell that we will learn so much from our adventures in Australia.
I am looking forward to the remainder of my studies here at Griffith University.
All the best,