When a Bhutanese Creative Weirdo Goes to Study in Australia
Growing up in an academically-inclined family, I was always made to believe that I could either excel in my studies and become a doctor, an engineer, a teacher, a government administrator, or I could drop out of school and live a hard life on the streets.
There were no ‘in-betweens’.
It was difficult being the only ‘creative weirdo’ in the family. My favourite childhood memories were the ones that I spent painting happy camels on old bedsheets and writing poetry on the residual pages of my notebooks. However, I was frequently reminded that I could never make a profession out of my passion because no one would be willing to spend money on a useless piece of art or a few words of poetry.
Hence, I went on to earn myself a Bachelor’s degree and subserviently got employed into a 9-5 corporate job. It was a respected position, and my family was very proud of my achievements. But, there was always that little something that was missing and only I could tell you what it was. I knew from the start that my true calling was in the creative world and although I honoured my job and dearly loved my family, I was silently very unhappy for years. A feeling of guilt overcame my being every time I thought about quitting my job and pursuing my creative dreams. I felt like it would be selfish to quit my job and pursue my own dreams. However, after years of deliberation and sleepless nights, I finally decided to quit my job and come to Australia to study creative arts.
The year was 2015, and it was a Sunday in February. The sky was a sad hue and there was not a bird in the trees. I was cold, excited, nervous and sad, all at the same time. Had I made the right decision? I was leaving my family and my country for an indefinite period of time! But then, I was going to Australia, the country of Dreams and Opportunities. This was the fruit of months of struggle to get a student visa, but when the time had finally arrived for me to leave, it didn’t seem all that exciting anymore. All I can remember of that day, is my father feebly waving from behind the glass door as I dragged my suitcase into the check-in queue at Paro International Airport.
That was 6 years ago.
Today, I have a Master’s degree in Communications, a Diploma in Graphic Design and am now studying towards completing my Advanced Diploma in Animation and Game Art at Australia’s best and only government-owned Training Institute that offers world-class training to domestic and international students alike.
I know many parents in Bhutan still caution their children against focusing on the arts and it is rather taboo to express your intentions of making a career out of it. I hope I can be a motivation for all those young creatives who go to bed every night with dreams of turning their passions into professions someday.
At the age of 39, I wake up every morning and go to class with students half my age and teachers younger than me, but I can proudly say that these have been the best moments in my life because I am finally getting to learn what I really love. And, as late as it may be, I am positive that my decision to study the Creative Arts will be the harbinger of a very fulfilling life ahead for me.
I have had the opportunity to work as a Graphic Designer and Photographer with some of the biggest brands in Western Australia, have designed a website for an amusement park in Western Australia and have also designed logos and posters for clients from all over the world. I also own an online store through which I have sold my artwork and sculptures to people from around the globe. It is unbelievable...the things you can achieve, if you really work hard on your dreams in a country like Australia.
When you are in Australia, you get to attain top-quality education, while also having the opportunity to live and work in a safe and beautiful country. Australia has been applauded for its quality of education, safe cities and harmonious multicultural communities. Compared to other developed nations such as the USA, the UK and Canada, Australia provides high-quality education at affordable costs, a safe and welcoming environment to study, and offers numerous lucrative work opportunities for students and dependants alike. It is also the nearest English-speaking developed country from Bhutan, which makes it cheaper and easier for us to travel to and from our homeland.
Furthermore, if you complete a degree in a CRICOS registered course, you will be eligible to live, study and work in Australia for up to 4 years (Graduate Visa) after you have finished your studies.
There is also a high demand for professionals with certain skills that are listed in their Skilled Occupations List. Owing to this high demand, Commercial Cookery, for example, is an excellent academic pathway that offers infinite job opportunities and will also eventually lead to obtaining a Permanent Residency.
As for myself, having lived in Australia for the past few years, I have been introduced to, and am awed by the infinite possibilities of the creative world of digital and visual communication. I aspire to learn as much as I can and take it back home with me so that I can help my people tell their stories to the world.