FAQs: my university pathway

Last week when my parents admitted they weren’t quite sure how my studies all tied together, I was forced to admit that my study pathway seems confusing from the outside. As a result I’ve created this cheat sheet with my friends and family members in mind, so they don’t have to sheepishly ask (again) what the hell I’m doing. If you want to get into the really fine details, get a snack and visit my LinkedIn profile.

So, what exactly are you studying?

At university I’ve been working towards three undergraduate programs: Diploma in Languages (Japanese), Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of International Relations. I’ve completed the requirements for two of these, and all I need is to complete a semester of journalism subjects to complete my undergraduate studies.

How did you manage to reduce your time spent at university?

These programs were supposed to take five years to complete (four for my double Bachelors and another one for the Diploma), but I’m on track to complete it in four and a half. How? I’ve utilised summer school opportunities and taken on the maximum number of subjects per semester. I was also able to transfer credit for the equivalent of two subjects for the Japanese in-country course I took in first year.

How can you travel so much as part of your university studies?

Long story short, as a communications student (particularly international relations and languages) I’m encouraged to undertake in-country study. In my case, instead of completing four international relations subjects, I opted to study overseas for a semester; undertook an in-country language course and extended my student exchange for my language diploma; and found an overseas internship for my journalism internship requirement. I’ve calculated that by the time I graduate, approximately 30 per cent of my university courses will have been fully or partially completed internationally (adding up to 13 accumulative months).

From day one at university I was actively seeking out opportunities to incorporate travel into my university studies. Every few months I search for and apply for many programs (and scholarships to cover the cost of these programs), of which I’m only accepted into a small percentage. Since I’m always asked where I went/for how long/what I got credit for/what scholarships I received, here’s a comprehensive list:

  • Japan 2013/4, 2015
    • 6 week intensive Japanese course at Waseda University – 2 subjects equivalent (international relations and languages) – JASSO monthly scholarship, Global Experience scholarship
    • Spring semester of Japanese at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies – 4 subjects equivalent (international relations) – New Colombo Plan scholarship, JASSO monthly scholarship
    • Autumn semester of Japanese at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies – 4 subjects equivalent (languages) – OS-HELP loan, JASSO monthly scholarship
  • South Africa 2016
    • 2 week ISLP Delegation on International Relations and Diplomacy to South Africa – part of one subject (international relations) – OS-HELP loan, ISLP $500 reduction scholarship
  • Indonesia 2017 (upcoming)
    • 6 week ACICIS Journalism Professional Practicum – 1 subject equivalent (journalism) – New Colombo Plan scholarship

If you want ideas of how to raise money for uni-related travel, read my previous blog post entitled How to fund your study overseas despite being a broke uni student.

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What extra-curricular activities are you involved in?

In addition to studying full-time, I’ve been involved in a number of extra-curricular activities since starting university. I completed the Global Experience program (which was discontinued in 2015), the UNITE Leadership Program, the Student Ambassador program (as a Global Experience ambassador). In 2016 I was involved in several activities through the Community Connect club, which promotes volunteering and community engagement. These included: participating in the Vinnie’s Community Sleepout; organising a university-wide sanitary item collection for Share the Dignity; and raising funds for the International Women’s Development Agency through managing a panel session that focused on the importance of educating girls and women and the importance of getting them into positions of leadership.

What are your plans after you graduate?

Honestly, the thought of graduating slightly terrifies me, as graduates are expected to undertake a number of unpaid internships to gain practical experience before they are hired. Ideally I’d love to get into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Graduate Program, be sponsored to undertake a Masters degree by coursework in International Relations or related field, and eventually end up working as an Australian ambassador, at the United Nations or helping to combat women’s issues.

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