My name is Kittirut Rojanabenjawong. People usually call me Tae. I was born in Thailand in a town called Ubon Ratchathani, northeast of Thailand. I was the only son from within a middle class Chinese Thai family.
In March 2002, I travelled to Australia with my father and my sister after my Year 8 exam which had happened in the week prior to our trip. My father did not really tell me that he was taking me to Ballarat Clarendon College and we did not really question him either.
After a brief tour around the school, he asked me one question, “What do you think of the school?”. I said, “It seems nice”. The next thing I knew, I was already enrolled in Year 8 and was due to start school in 4 weeks.
I was totally shocked and experienced many different emotions after my initial enrolment, as I could hardly speak English. My father; however, did stay with me for 2 weeks to reassure me that I would be fine and he managed to buy me an electronic dictionary to help me translate English to Thai and Thai to English. I stayed with a family in Ballarat who were very helpful in teaching me English.
When school started, I still remembered that first English class with Miss A-P. I could hardly understand what was going on, so I was put in a separate group with other international students to allow us to have some time to catch up. I still remember very well how I used to struggle and how I had to look up so many words in the dictionary to try to get an understanding of the textbook. It was a very difficult time, but I kept persevering. Eventually, my English progressively improved. Furthermore, my grades improved every year and in Year 11, I was awarded Academic Honours for the first time and was also the Dux of Year 11. I am still proud of it even today.
Throughout my time at Clarendon, I was confronted with so many challenges. Living away from home was certainly one of them. I experienced loneliness and homesickness and used to cross the calendar everyday as I always looked forward to going home. The only thing that kept me going, was knowing that one day I would succeed and make my parents proud.
I have to acknowledge that I received a tremendous amount of support from people around me, especially Mrs Jenny Weeks who has significantly contributed so much to my success. Throughout my 2 years that I stayed with her, she looked after me so very well. I still remember the times when I used to have so much difficulty with Physics and she used to drive me to Melbourne every week for private tutoring. In the end, I achieved 43/50 as a study score.
In Year 12, I knew that I wanted to do medicine; therefore, I worked very hard. I picked the subjects that I liked and I persevered with them until the end. Finally, I got 98.80 for my ENTER and I was offered to the chance to study medicine at Monash University and as well as this, I was awarded an Excellence scholarship.
Throughout my whole experience in Australia, I was forced to mature really quickly and take responsibility for myself. Like many people, I have experienced many ups and downs in life and I learned many lessons. One of the most important lessons that I have learned is that you will always see the light at the end of the tunnel as long as you persevere and focus on your goals.