Habacuc Perez-Tribouillier, 29, a marine geochemist from Tijuana, Mexico, is 11 months into his PhD research at the Hobart-based Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies. Perez-Tribouillier applied to do his PhD at institutions in Germany, Canada and the US, but IMAS got back to him the quickest.

“Germany and Canada took a month to respond, Tasmania took a week,” he says. “They asked for my CV and what I wanted to do. I said I wanted to work with radioisotopes and they said, ‘Oh, we have this project’, and they sent me an overview and it was a perfect match. One week after I arrived in Hobart, this local family, the Kitcheners, ‘adopted’ me. Brett Kitchener, who is an honours student at IMAS, has a boat and we go free-diving most weekends.”

His other social outlet is a weekly get-together of Spanish speakers at Frankie’s Empire Coffee House in the Hobart CBD, which up to 30 people from Spanish-speaking countries, as well as locals, attend. Perez-Tribouillier says IMAS is the second-best Antarctic studies centre in the world, after Germany’s GEOMAR-Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, and has the advantage of being close to the Antarctic.

In January and February, he got the opportunity to voyage to the sub-Antarctic Kerguelen Plateau, where he took water samples during an unexpected but serendipitous underwater eruption.

“Being in Tasmania is a really good scientific experience, rather than being about exploring the world for me,” he says.

Perez-Tribouillier’s close friend, Jorge Mardones Sanchez, agrees Tasmania is a great place for marine studies.

Mardones Sanchez, 34, from Coyhaique, Chile, arrived in Tasmania in 2012 to undertake his PhD at IMAS. He completed his thesis on toxic phytoplanktons – the ones that create red tides and algal blooms – last month.

“I was very lucky to have [Professor in Aquatic Botany] Gustaaf Hallegraeff as my supervisor at IMAS,” he says. “He is one of the top guys in the world on phytoplanktons and I saw he was working in Tasmania, so I thought, ‘Why not?’. Within two days of contacting him about doing my PhD in Tasmania, he gave me an answer.”

Mardones Sanchez is working for the Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute on a short-term project, monitoring fish farms in the Huon and Channel areas, and Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania’s West Coast. He says he has never been homesick in his time in Tasmania, despite finding it strange how early cafes, restaurants and other nightspots close.

“It’s restful here, more relaxed, which is very good for work productivity,” he says.

If you are interested in a world-class research degree, look no further than the University of Tasmania. Find out more now!

This article is an extract from an article by GABRIELLE RISH, appearing in The Mercury Online, originally published under the title TasWeekend: Why international students want to live and learn in Tasmania,  September 24, 2016 10:00am. Image: Copyright Sam Rosewarne for The Mercury.