International student story: Calvin Fernando

International student story: Calvin Fernando

Calvin Fernando describes his experience as an international student at RMIT.

04 March 2022


Hi, my name is Calvin Fernando and I’m from Chennai, India. I’m in my second year of a Master of Architecture at RMIT.

Why did you choose to study architecture and study in Melbourne?

I’ve liked architecture for ages. I did my Bachelor degree in architecture back in Chennai and have some work experience in the field. After working as an Architect for two years, I thought doing a Masters would be helpful to further develop my career.

RMIT was always my first option for study. It’s easily the number one university when it comes to architecture. I like that RMIT does a lot of experimental architecture; we won’t be designing a simple block or house. With everything we do, we question and challenge ourselves, and I like that.

I’d never been to Melbourne before, but I wanted to come to Melbourne because it’s a vibrant city with lots of different, multicultural people. You can find many cuisines, and I wanted to experience the vivacious city life while I’m studying here. Also, my course is based at the City campus which is really good because I can go around the city while I study.

What were your first impressions of Melbourne?

I arrived at midnight on Christmas Eve. It was nighttime when I flew in, so I saw the city in lights.

One thing I observed about Melbourne is that there’s a mix of architectural buildings which is really interesting, there are a lot of classical buildings and modern buildings.

There were also a lot of people walking along Swanston Street. There’s a lot of variety in the people, and in the places to eat and hang out. I can really see the cultural diversity in Melbourne.

The first thing I did when I finished quarantine was a long walk! I started at Flinders Street Station and Federation Square and walked all the way to RMIT’s Design Hub. I wanted to walk and experience the city.

Calvin takes a selfie in front of an RMIT building. Calvin at RMIT's Design Hub.

How was your experience studying remotely from home in Chennai?

I did both Semester 1 and 2 online – this was really challenging. I was so excited to come to Australia and start in Semester 1, but due to the unavoidable fact of COVID, I had to face the reality. In my Bachelor, we did everything face-to-face, or exams were completed offline; we didn’t do any online submissions, so that was a challenge. It was also difficult to get to know students in my classes and professors.

In Semester 2 I finally accepted the fact that I would have to continue studying online, and this made it a little bit easier for me. We had lots of teamwork. I did group assignments with friends in Bangladesh and Melbourne and I got to know people in my design studio. It was a little bit difficult due to the time difference, but I got used to it. We had lots of discussions and talked a lot about Melbourne, and the people from Melbourne told me about the best places to see.

What was it like coming to Melbourne under the International Student Arrivals Plan?

It was a really long journey: Chennai > Dubai > Melbourne. More than 13 hours of travel time.

I liked the welcome at Melbourne Airport, in the sense that people were waiting for us. It was nice to have people there.

Any tips for other students travelling to Melbourne for their studies?

Pack less! I wish I would have brought fewer clothes, because after arriving, I realised I can buy anything I need here.

Calvin stands in Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne. Calvin at Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne's CBD.


Discover RMIT support and services for international students studying overseas or on-campus in Melbourne.

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.