Nikhil and the Cunninghams.

Could you be a friend to an international student? When Lisa Cunningham heard about Study Geelong’s International Friends Program, she jumped at the chance for her family to be involved. The program matches an international student studying in Geelong with a local person/family to build connections, share interests and enjoy cross-cultural exchange. International student Nikhil who applied to the program mentioned he liked cars so it was an obvious choice to match him with Lisa and Shayne (and their son Xavier) who own Mustang and Co. The look on Nikhil’s face when he heard they had a red convertible 1966 Mustang was priceless!

They enjoyed exploring the Geelong region including a trip to Scotchman’s Hill Winery and a drive around the Bellarine Peninsula. They met up for a bite to eat at different Geelong venues and had a meal at each other’s houses.  Lisa said her family joined the program “to learn about the students living in Geelong and help them get the full experience of living in another country. We were fortunate enough to meet Nikhil who is just absolutely lovely. He is from India and we learnt all about different customs, his upbringing and background.” Xavier said he was “privileged to meet Nikhil and experience Indian food. I think other people should try it [the program].”

Study Geelong is looking for families in the Geelong region to participate in the program and help show an international student what a friendly, amazing place Geelong is. The program lasts for 12 weeks and is NOT a live-in program.

Study Geelong runs a couple of events for all participants, but it is up to participants to arrange when and how they will catch-up during the program. It has been challenging for many students being isolated and away from their families and friends back home. The International Friends Program provides an opportunity for locals to show that we are a welcoming and inclusive community. You can develop friendships with students from around the world, enjoy sharing your favourite places to go in Geelong, the Australian culture, language, food and your interests and hobbies. You will also learn about another culture and develop intercultural skills.

If interested please apply before 31 July. There will be an online orientation session on 11 August at 5.30pm. For further information and to apply go to

You can view what Lisa and Xavier and other program participants had to say about their experience on video here.

Study Geelong is a program of Tourism Greater Geelong & The Bellarine in partnership with education providers in Geelong. The program promotes Geelong as a study destination and helps international students make the most of their stay in Geelong.