For ACU student Evan Fernando, some of the best moments of his Australian experience have happened outside the classroom. Here, he tells us about making friends, exploring his faith, and how ACU has supported him to live his best life.
When Sri Lankan student Evan Fernando first arrived in Australia, he felt lost.
“I was scared and confused in a new country,” says Evan, who’s in his first year of the Bachelor of Creative Arts.
But when he contacted an ACU International Student Adviser with his worries, things changed almost immediately – she took him on a tour and showed him the campus, the facilities and support services.
“The staff are really, really helpful and kind – they all work really hard to help us and it’s amazing how dedicated they are to the students,” he says.
That simple moment of kindness was all it took for Evan to really immerse himself in international student life. Since then, he’s become deeply involved in campus life, joining a range of student clubs and societies including the McAuley United Club, which invites staff and students from all over the world to share culture and friendship in a safe environment; the Gardening Club, where students work together to grow and harvest a range of plants and vegetables; and the LGBTQ+ Club, which is open to everyone and supports students of diverse sexual and gender orientations.
And these clubs have offered Evan much more than just an opportunity to explore his passions.
“I’ve made friends from every club I’m in,” he says.
“The very first friends I made – who are still my friends now – were because of the free city tour we had, organised by the International Student Club.”
As a creative person, Evan says he chose to study at ACU because he felt that the arts and creative professions were highly valued in Australia. He also wanted to study somewhere he could continue exploring his Catholic faith.
ACU gives students access to a wealth of religious and spiritual support services through the Campus Ministry program, which provides all students with a place to worship, regardless of their religion. The Campus Ministry teams also run a range of events, from chapel services to campus choirs to weekly Connect Groups where students can come and talk about their beliefs.
“I think studying in a Catholic background makes everything better – religion always makes people calm, soft and well-mannered,” he says.
“I go to the church at ACU every day, which helps me to concentrate.”
Evan may have started at ACU only a few months ago, but he’s already built a life, friends and a campus community around him. He’s already looking forward to whatever comes next.
“ACU is one of my most beloved places. There are some days I don’t have classes, but I come to the university just to sit under a tree and study. Every little thing we do inside ACU is always a beautiful and fresh experience,” he says.
“I love Australia. I already call it my second home.”