When Zaki Mubarak first laid eyes on Victoria University (VU) seven years ago, he knew he had found the perfect place to study.
At the time, he was completing his Master of Finance at the University of Melbourne and was preparing to fly back to his home town of Banjarmasin, the capital of South Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Fast forward to 2016, Zaki is just a year away from finishing his Doctor of Business Administration at VU.
"When I was studying my masters I lived in Footscray and many of my friends were students of VU so I often visited the Footscray Park campus," Zaki says.
"It looked like a really nice place to study and everyone there was so friendly to international students so when I decided to do my doctorate, I decided to do it at VU," he says.
After graduating from high school, Zaki earned both bachelor and masters degrees in accounting from Universitas Muhammadiyah and Diponegoro University in Indonesia, and later a Master of Finance in Melbourne.
He then returned home to work as a lecturer in accounting at IAIN Antasari institution in South Kalimantan, and in 2014 he was awarded a scholarship from the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs and began his doctorate at VU, focusing on “the influence of religiosity on the ethical decision-making of accounting students in Indonesia”.
"I’m really interested to see how studying accounting at a religious affiliated university influences a student’s ethical decision-making ability,” he says.
"It's still too early to draw any conclusions but the research is promising."
Zaki plans to return to his birth country upon completion of his doctorate degree, bringing back with him a wealth of knowledge – and a lifetime of experiences.
"I’ve only ever lived in Melbourne so I can’t speak for the rest of Australia but I love everything about it [Melbourne] – I love the city, I love the VU campus and most of all, I love the people."
Reflecting on his time as an international student, Zaki says his first year in Melbourne was naturally the hardest.
"At first, the weather was a real climate shock.
"Luckily I didn’t struggle to find anything to eat though because Melbourne is full of Asian markets, restaurants and food stalls."
His advice to fellow Indonesian students who are thinking about studying at VU in Melbourne is to remain focused and “work hard at their English skills”.
"For many Indonesians, studying in Australia is a dream.
"They need to believe in that dream and work hard at their English skills so when their time comes to move to Australia, they can easily adapt, both academically and personally."