We’re sharing stories from Victorian postgrad students, talking about why public transport concessions matter to them. Our first story is from Cassie:

I am a 31-year-old PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, and I first stepped into this wonderful country a few days before my PhD program started two years ago. I knew that Melbourne was expensive and that being a student would be financially difficult, but I didn’t expect it to be as difficult as it has been.

I ride my bicycle to and from university most days to save money, and I enjoy the ride. Sometimes, though, I need to travel further, so I have to choose between high daily fares or buying a longer pass that I won’t use every day.

In recent months, I have been doing research for my PhD in Thailand, where I have the opportunity to not worry about money on a daily basis. While I still live on a budget, I don’t have to choose between food and other necessities. With my move back to Melbourne just days away, I am getting excited and anxious to return. I am excited to return to a city I love, but anxious about all the financial stress I will be faced with.

If I had a student concession, the discounted rate would allow me to use public transport to explore Melbourne. The money I saved would mean not choosing between meals for the month or transportation. And, most importantly for me, it would mean I didn’t have to stress quite as much over every single dollar I spend, so I could feel a little more financially secure.

Amid all the stressors that go along with being a busy, stressed-out PhD candidate who is far away from my family and other support groups, the gift of feeling financially secure is one of the best gifts I could be given.