Humans of RMIT: Raffa Pratama

Raffa Pratama, student, Bachelor of Communication, RMIT

I arrived in Melbourne in February last year from Jakarta in Indonesia. In my first semester I experienced a cultural shock because I am away from my family. I have one brother here. He is also a student.

Because I am studying a Bachelor of Communication, most of my classmates are local, so I found it very hard to transition and to meet international students who were experiencing the same things as me. I felt like an outsider.

I joined the Mates at RMIT social mentor program as a mentee in my first semester because I hoped to meet more international students, but my mentor wasn’t that active. It was bad luck but I promised myself that the following semester I would become a mentor and try and help as many new students as I can to fit in well to RMIT and to Melbourne and to make new friends. I didn’t want them to feel left out.

Last semester, I held quite a lot of events for my mentees. This semester things are quite different because of the lockdown but I have set up a Whatsapp group and there are about 45 mentees in total.

Every Friday night at 8pm, I host an online games night and whoever is free joins in. We talk and laugh a lot and play online Pictionary and trivia and things like that..It is super fun.

The funny thing is that even though these people are my mentees, many of them have actually become some of my best friends.I speak to some of them every night.

And it’s really great because many of them are from overseas. They don’t have a support system here, so it’s been really great that even though we can’t see each other physically we can still stay connected and support each other and develop these very special friendships.

They often tell me, ‘oh, I wouldn’t have met that person if it wasn’t for you’ and that really warms me because that’s the one thing I really wanted was to connect people and make sure no one felt alone.

For me, it is one of my favourite parts of the week. I am such an extrovert and I love hanging out with people and talking to people, so this lockdown has been very hard for me. The games night just gives me so much energy to do all my work and it helps me stay sane.

I still really miss my own family though. They were supposed to come over towards the end of May for Eid but because of the coronavirus all the flights have been cancelled. Eid is such a special thing for my family so this is terribly sad for me. I just really hope I can see them soon.”