French student, Emma Pelcener had one priority when she decided to study at IH, in Australia. The Arts major wanted to live on-campus in a college, an experience that wasn’t an option in France.


Why did you choose on-campus UQ living at International House (IH)?

When I decided to study in Australia I had one mandatory criterion: living in college. In France, we don’t have colleges on campus. Students mostly time share a flat or live in student accommodation near the campus. In Australia, Colleges have a name, are run by an office team and have organised activities, they have a defined community spirit. I often describe it (college) as a small university inside a university, an experience I could never have in France.

How did you hear about IH?

I searched the UQ website and discovered there were many colleges, but quickly understood the spirit of each and IH was in my top 3. I remember at midnight in France, with my Dad beside me, I phoned Australia for the first time to speak with IH and another College. The very next morning I made my application for IH.

You originally booked a 6-month contract at IH but you liked it so much, you extended your stay for Semester 2. Can you explain your decision?

My decision to stay in college accommodation was definite but when it comes to making a choice from the other side of the globe, based solely on a website, naturally I had nerves. Together with my parents, I decided to try out college for a semester and see how it went. Now I look back and laugh, I can’t believe we didn’t just sign up for the one year contract straight away! It’s been the best semester at university so far and I can’t stress enough how big a part IH played in this.

Emma’s home in France

Emma and her brother at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary




Emma and her mother at Byron Bay

What makes IH unique or special for you?

What I enjoy the most is living my life at college and university, so I can spend most of my time around campus and I love it. This really is home now, I have my friends, a place where I work and I go shopping in the city. I love jumping on a ferry around the Brisbane River. Sometimes you do need a bit of downtime from campus and that’s where Queensland is the best! I can catch a train to the Gold Coast and enjoy a weekend at the beach, it feels just like a vacation. My mum and brother recently visited me and I was so thrilled to play Aussie tour guide and take them to all my favourite places like Lone Pine to feed the kangaroos.

What makes IH unique as a college?

IH really helped me feel at home in a new country, always being surrounded by people that I am now happy to call great friends. I really believe that I was right from the beginning, that college gives you a very unique way to live your Uni life. I have never experienced being in a home like IH where there is such a strong spirit and a sense of belonging for a lifetime. I’ve seen alumni coming back and I would be happy to come back one day and say I’m a Housie too!

Why would you recommend other international students to live at IH?

There is nothing like the college experience. Leaving home isn’t always such a smooth transition as I’ve learned from experience. I’ve lived in many homes in different countries and I know how hard it is sometimes to call a new place home, but I can’t stop telling all of my family and friends how smooth this transition has been. I could go on and on, it’s just been easy, thanks to the Housies you meet, the countless cultural, social and sports activities and so many other things at IH and UQ!

What’s the best thing about being a Housie?

Hard to find just one thing, but being with other Housies and also representing IH at every event is so much fun!

Which Aussie habits or slang have you picked up since living at IH?

HaHa, slang, I still have a lot to learn but I’ve been using mate and cheers a lot like you guys do! I now have my coffee every morning, which I think is really funny because I would not really do that back home in France. I’m more of a tea person but it’s such a coffee-oriented life here, I’ve picked up the habit of drinking a latte practically every morning at the café where I work.