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The Australian Study Adventure of a Lifetime

I remember the day I landed in Perth to start my undergraduate degree at The University of Western Australia (UWA). It was a typical late Summer's day. Perth was bright, brown and everything seemed really wide and big.

I was excited but nervous. Perth, or indeed Australia, wasn’t my first choice. I wanted to go to the UK. I’m not even sure why, but I think it was something to do with the romantic notion of being there.

I remember the drive to uni. The majestic Swan River as we went from the city down Riverside Drive and the magnificence of Winthrop Hall as we rounded the bend onto Mounts Bay Road. I mean, coming from Singapore, I was still getting my head around why everything was so brown, but gee, the place looked pretty inspiring.

Maybe it’d be ok after all.

3 weeks later I remember ringing my parents and declaring that I never wanted to leave.

Studying in Australia is a big step to take for any individual and there are different ways to skin that fish, but as someone who had played sport my whole life, the mild climate and abundance of opportunity was like mana from heaven.

I was able to join a rugby club a 10 min walk from my residential college, train and play while still enjoying all that uni life had to offer.

I learnt to body surf at Trigg Beach and during semester break would go ‘down south’ with friends to experience WA.

Through the rugby club I got a part time job in a glass factory, cut my hands up 12 times on the first day and learnt the hard way that you don’t slide your hand across a glass plane to get a better grip.

Academically I found studying in Australia so completely different to what I’d experienced in Singapore that it almost seemed for the first time I was actually learning something myself, rather than being told what to do or know. The independence to ‘think’ was liberating and for the first time ever, I was looking forward to learning.

Being able to ask questions and challenge was breathtakingly refreshing and one of my tutors challenged pretty much everything I’d learnt to date when he said, “you’re allowed to think differently, you’ve just got to be able to justify your argument. So if you go down this path, be prepared to explain why”.

Today, over a quarter of a century later, it remains one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt in life and one that I try to teach my kids.

Studying in Perth turned out to be a defining moment in my life. I grew up there and learned so much.

Rugby wise, I took a bit longer to find my feet and get used to playing bigger, faster and more powerful athletes. The experience proved invaluable when I went back to Singapore and was able to resume my international career and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Actually… there are a few things I’d change. I wish I got better advice before moving. I also wish I understood a bit more about how to find a rugby club (and later on a waterpolo club). That sort of guidance would’ve been super helpful.

And that’s one of the reasons we founded The NoBull Group.

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