Student Story: Jian Zhao

02 November 2021

Hello everyone! I’m Jian and I’m currently a third-year PhD student in Education at the University of Western Australia (UWA).

I moved to Perth in February 2019 to embark my PhD journey after finishing my master’s degree in Sydney. I knew that the University of Western Australia, as one of the Group of Eight, had a great reputation for study and academic research. However, before I came to Perth, one of my friends told me that Perth is “the loneliest city in the world” and then asked me, “Are you sure you want to stay there for almost four years?”

Before my first arrival in Perth, I booked a free 24-hour airport pickup service, which was provided by my university for international students who are arriving in Perth for the first time. This was really helpful as I came here with two big suitcases, plus knowing nobody in this city. On our way to UWA, the driver and I had a great talk about the scenery along the way.

A week later, I met my principal supervisor Elaine, who is very nice and supportive. I got my own study space and a computer. My PhD journey officially started!

I worked very hard during my first-year PhD. With my supervisors’ help and support, I submitted my proposal three months earlier than the due date, got the ethical approval quickly, conducted the first stage of my data collection and completed my first paper. Having studied at universities for so many years, keeping a balance of life and study is not difficult for me. In my spare time, I’ve explored different places in Perth with friends I made here.

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One-day trip in Fremantle with my friend Hola |  Orientation Day at UWA | Cottesloe Beach

The second year was a bit tricky because the COVID-19 pandemic happened. I couldn’t complete the second stage of my data collection and things seemed to be getting unpredictable. I was kind of in a dilemma of whether I should wait until COVID-19 passes or amend my proposal and ethical approval to start a new project. Without any hesitation, I decided to start a new project because I just couldn’t bear doing nothing but waiting. Luckily, I had my principal supervisor’s total support and things went on smoothly. And most importantly I love my new project even more despite the more reading and learning it brings! Although this is a year full of uncertainties, I'm still managing to make the best of it.

I’m now in my third year. My supervisors are still very supportive, and I've learnt a lot from them – especially my principal supervisor, Elaine. She always encourages me and gives me constructive feedback on my research and future career.

While all the excitement and curiosity of relocating to a new city gradually wore off, I still love this city so much, and I want to answer my friend’s question at the beginning of this blog.

“Are you sure you want to stay there for almost four years?”

My answer? “Yes, absolutely and more than just four years!”

I feel lucky to study in such a beautiful, relaxed and warm city with diversified culture. I’m grateful for all the amazing experiences I have and all the wonderful people I met in this city. I feel happy to be studying here. 

By Jian Zhao