Jinjoo is not only a previous student at TAFE but is also a current lecturer. Having studied HLT52021 Diploma of Remedial Massage at the South Metropolitan TAFE Fremantle campus in 2014 and accumulating over 12 years of experience in the industry, Jinjoo now passes on her knowledge to students wishing to also find a career in the industry.
In this article, Jinjoo shares her experience as an international student in Perth studying at TAFE and gives her advice to future and current international students.
When did you move to Australia?
I was born and raised in South Korea then I moved to Australia in August 2011.
After graduating from a bachelor’s in health and beauty, I started to work at a dermatology and plastic surgery clinic in South Korea. I learnt so many different skills at the clinic, from soft skills to technical skills.
I have always dreamed about travelling and working overseas so I allowed myself one and a half years to go to Vancouver in Canada in 2010. I studied English in Canada and started to work as a beautician. My plan didn’t go as expected unfortunately and I had to return to South Korea in 2011.
When I was in South Korea, I met education agent Mr Jung from Edu Planner agency, and we discussed whether it was feasible for me to go to Australia to study. At the time I didn’t mind going to any city in Australia, but I wanted to make sure that there weren’t many Koreans as I wanted to improve my English as much as possible. He said Perth would be the perfect place for me.
How did you adapt to Western Australia (WA)?
I studied English at Milner lnternational College of Language and had a fabulous time. It helped me hugely in improving English in writing as well as speaking as most of the other students were from Europe.
After my English courses, I enrolled in my massage course at TAFE and after 18 months of studying, I graduated in June 2014.
What did you enjoy most about the course?
I enjoyed the challenge of studying in English and seeing how I improved throughout the course.
I still remember my very first class which was physiology, and I cried all the way home on the bus as I didn’t think I would be able to make it to the end of my course. After this big release of tears, I sat down and planned how I was going to achieve the qualification. I needed to study not only the content but also English.
I got to campus around 6.30 to 7.00 am and read all of the content before class. I translated words I didn’t know and also revised the content from the previous day. After class, I stayed in the campus library in the evening and studied until 4.00 to 7.00 pm: read, study and repeat. Honestly, this was the most enjoyable part during the 18 months as I got to see tiny improvements each day, week and month. I eventually graduated with no re-sits in any of the assessments across the entire 18 months.
Were there work placements during the course?
During my studies, real-world experience was a large part of the course. I got to attend various events to perform massage therapy on a range of clients from athletes to palliative care patients.
There was also a mandatory student evening clinic, which I attended every week. I got to practise the techniques I learnt in class from communication and observation, to the client intake interview process, which was confronting but at the same time essential in understanding good standards of protocol to work as a remedial massage therapist in Australia.
The last day of the student evening clinic, I got to massage a chiropractor. The chiropractor owned a wellness clinic in Aubin Grove and was looking for a new remedial massage therapist. She then contacted one of my lecturers and said she would like to meet me and discuss employment and possible sponsorship. Fortunately, after a few meetings, I was able to apply for the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa to obtain permanent residency.
The confidence I now have in myself and my ability is huge, much more than day one of the course!
How did you find the facilities on your campus?
The campus had lots of greenery and trees, and there was a small canteen and two classrooms on the second floor where I studied. We often sat near the stairs during morning tea.
The lecturers were amazing, it was heavily hands on practical training with additional theory content. The theory content was serious and heavy, but sensible and necessary to make students understand the industry well. The lecturers were very approachable when I struggled with many different things such as my English skills, the future, feeling homesick, or general life concerns.
How does life in Australia compare to home?
I have now been living in Perth for 12 years.
To compare the life between Korea and Australia is not an easy subject as there are so many different things. Living in Australia has provided me with more free time to myself and I also love living close to the beach, especially as I lived in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, which is far away from the beach for a day activity.
What are some fun activities you’ve been enjoying in your free time?
My favourite activity is to go to Rottnest Island, ride a bike around the island, swim and visit the beautiful beaches.
I also enjoy going for a walk early in the mornings. I get to see little ducklings in the lake, sit down on the bench with crackers, and a book (or even the phone), watch kids play sport on the oval. These daily activities make me realise how relaxed I am even when I am running around like a headless chicken at times.
How have you found the people in WA?
I have found elderly people in WA particularly lovely. They are always trying to help and are very approachable.
I used to live in Mandurah, which is around one hour away from the city. I went for a walk every morning before I went to my language course. On my walk, I met the most beautiful lady. We got along very well, she invited me to several dinners, helped me with writing letters, and I felt like I became one of her granddaughters.
I initially hesitated to know strangers due to several reasons, but she totally changed me, and now I can trust and build relationships with people again.
What is your job title at TAFE and what are your responsibilities?
I have been a lecturer in the HLT52021 Diploma of Remedial Massage at the South Metropolitan Murdoch campus since 2019. I am also currently training to be a co-ordinator for Semesters 1 and 2, 2024.
At the moment I am teaching WHS, Business, Anatomy, Myofascial release technique and supervising the live student clinic in the evenings.
I also became a Director of the Board at the Massage and Myotherapy Australia(opens in a new tab), which is the biggest massage association in Australia and a member of National Education committee.
As a member of the committee, I discuss and choose the best and most suitable continuous education training methods for remedial massage therapists.
What do you love most about your job?
Spending time with students, and seeing their growth is an incredible experience. There are lots of ups and downs but at the end of the day I am here to provide a smooth learning journey.
Their big smile at the graduation is priceless.
Can you offer any advice for students considering applying at TAFE?
There is nothing to be scared of, just take one step at a time and you’ll eventually arrive at the end.
Often people think English language is a barrier, but it’s not. It’s actually much easier than you think.
The lecturers and student support team are always within arm’s reach, and it’s totally okay to ask them to give you a hand with anything to make your study process easier. No one knows unless you express yourself.
The group of students you study with will support you and make sure you’re on the right track. They will be your best friends as well as your family as you get to see and spend time with them more than your family back home.
After nearly 10 years, I’m still close with the group of friends that I met during the course. We have catch ups for coffee, dinner, their kids’ birthday parties, and any other family events. They have become my Australian family. This might be the reason why I don’t feel homesick.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
To future and current students - put in your maximum effort into what you desire to achieve, then you will notice more opportunities around you.
Trying to decide what you want to study or do for your career is hard. You will need to evaluate and reflect on yourself constantly. This might make you feel self-doubt but this is totally fine and it’s apart of the process to help you grow your confidence and bring you another step closer to what you dream for.
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