Leaving his family behind in Pakistan, Muhammad Kamran intended to come to Australia just to finish his degree.
Nine years later, Mr Kamran and his family have made a home in Wagga.
As of Sunday's Australia Day ceremony, the family of four have now proudly become Australian citizens.
Mr Kamran's wife Saira and two sons 12-year-old Soban and 11-year-old Hammad arrived in Wagga in 2012. The family once again re-united, fell in love with the city and have never sought to leave it.
"I came just to do my PhD at Charles Sturt University," Mr Kamran said.
"I liked it here, now they like it hear so we didn't go to any other city. We stayed right here.
"We do miss our family, and [Saira and my] parents but home is here now."
The year he spent apart from his young family was initially painful. Mr Kamran desperately wanted to share the discovery of his new home with his wife and sons, who were then only aged four and three.
"The whole time I was here without them, I was thinking 'my children need me'," Mr Kamran said.
"When they finally joined me, we had planned to go back but then [the children] started school and they wanted to stay."
Both active members of the city's junior cricket clubs, Soban and Hammad have found their place in Wagga. Last year, Soban had the best bowling average in the under-12s RSL Club team.
Eight years ago, when the boys arrived in Wagga, Hammad, in particular, was taken by one of the city's major landmarks. Until this day, the river remains his favourite spot in the city.
It was then fitting that the family read the pledge of allegiance as new citizens at the weekend's open-air ceremony on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River.
But after venturing to other parts of the country for holidays last year, Soban and Hammad now have a new favourite beach. For them, Surfer's Paradise is the best in the nation, while Wagga sits as close second.
But there is one thing that would elevate Wagga to their top spot: "[Wagga] has no waves," Soban said, admitting, of course, that the mythical 'five o'clock wave' has so far proven elusive.