International students in Australia: India's Uttam Kumar

Each year, UNSW welcomes thousands of international students to Australia. Indian student Uttam Kumar, who is researching better ways to recycle our growing mountains of e-waste, tells his story to the ABC's Australia Plus.

Three years ago, Uttam Kumar won the ‘Win Your Future Unlimited’ competition, beating 37,000 other candidates for the opportunity to study in Australia. He chose to study a Masters degree in Materials Science at UNSW.

Kumar moved from his remote village in northern India to spend two years in Sydney, studying the development of ‘environmentally friendly fibres’.

Upon finishing his Masters in 2015, Kumar received the prestigious University International Postgraduate Award (UIPA) to continue his research into e-waste recycling.

With the continuing guidance of his research team and supervisor Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla, he hopes his research will give him the opportunity to work as a policy developer in environmental waste management back in India.

In conversation with ABC’s Australia Plus, Kumar discusses his experiences as an international student in Australia.

Uttam Kumar

Uttam Kumar

What were your first impressions of Australia?

"My first visit to Australia was in 2013. It was a two-week study tour organised by the Australian Trade Commission. During these two weeks, I met a lot of interesting, kind and humble personalities, visited various beautiful places in Australia and tried different cuisines. Experiencing so much in such a short span of time was a little overwhelming but I enjoyed every bit of it. Those two weeks were one of the best two weeks of my life."

How did you decide to study your particular degree?

"I decided to pursue postgraduate studies in the field of Materials Science with a focus on waste recycling due to my interest in environment sustainability. This interest grew over time as I read about problems of environmental pollution and resource scarcity. In the future, I would like to work in the area of environmental management."

What advice would you share with students who come from overseas to study in Australia?

"Australia is a great country to study, travel, meet amazing people from all around the world and learn about their cultures. There is so much one can do in their free time, which can make their experience of living and studying in Australia a memorable one."

In what ways are is being an international student different from being a domestic student?

"Sometimes international students have a hard time with making new friends due to language and cultural barriers, which is not the case with local students. For that, every university has clubs and societies where students can go and attend social events, which gives them a wonderful opportunity to interact with international and local students.”

Read the full article on the Australia Plus website.

For information on the international scholarships offered by UNSW, visit the website.