Studying abroad is one of my biggest dreams that I had since I was in undergraduate. I wanted to make it true regardless of how difficult it might be for me. Finally, after almost 2.5 years of working experience, I got the opportunity to pursue my master’s degree in Australia through Australia Awards, funded by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). In this article, I want to highlight my pre-departure training and study experience at Australian National University (ANU), which includes education services, Indonesian research center, and alumni network.
Pre departure training
Before I departed to Australia, I had a pre departure training in IALF for 6 weeks. The length of the training period depends on IELTS score. If you have lower score, then you will have longer training period. The training provides essential information needed when I arrive in Australia, such as advice about living and studying in Australia. It was quite useful to me as I have never lived abroad and therefore I enjoyed the training period so much. The training also boosted my confidence to study in Australia because honestly I was afraid that I couldn’t adapt to life in Australia. They had cultural class which was always fun and my favorite class is the academic class. I think the academic class is very useful because the academic system in Australia is quite different compared to the Indonesian one. In the academic class, I learned about essay writing, critical reading, developing arguments, and obviously speaking. I had a lot of class discussions and debates that helped me to develop my analytical skill. DFAT also held information day for awardees to discover more about Australian universities before I submitted my final study preferences to the scholarship committee. Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with this scholarship as DFAT did not only provide administrative support prior to my departure, but also prepared me on how to study and live in Australia.
The degree I took was Master of Environmental Management and Development at the Australian National University (ANU). The main reason I chose this university was because I only wanted to study at the country’s leading university and fortunately the university has the program study that suits my interest and career goals. I personally think that choosing the right university is important. I also assume that reputable university would have excellent education services, which I believe will be valuable for my future career.
How education services support my study
Although I had a pre-departure training prior to my study in Australia, from my personal experience, the transition to a new culture and academic system was significantly harder than I anticipated. The most notable challenges include the language barrier and adapting to a new academic system. When I first came to Australia, I felt that language barrier was a huge challenge. I had a lot of problems communicating with locals as they spoke so fast, in an unfamiliar accent, and most of the time they assume we understand what they’re saying. Shifting from Indonesian academic system to Australian system is also a big hurdle. Since I was undergraduate, I never had any experience writing academic paper in English language. At ANU, I have to write 12-16 academic papers per semester and they have a lot of rules to follow, for example: citation, referencing, plagiarism rules, etc. However, the adaptation to the new academic system was not that difficult as ANU provides excellent supports for international students. In my program study, there are academic supervisors for international students, which I think serve as a huge help. They help us to check the papers, including grammatical error and ensure that our paper addresses the assignment’s objectives. Besides that, they provide academic workshops and arrange tutorials if needed. Mostly, the academic staff in my department are very helpful and open to help solving concerns related to academic or personal issues that students may have. The university also has a mentorship program, in which new students will be paired with senior students to assist them adapt to the university life.
The bumpy road of adapting to the new environment is likely to be felt for the first two months. After I received feedback for my first assignment, I knew how hard I had to study. For paper writing assignment, I basically think about the topic, collect related journals/reading resources, come up with research question and argument, build paper structure, and start writing. I subsequently build up a new support network and after couple of months or so everything is all about fun!
Read more in the second part of Tsani’s story, to be published in January 2016!
Photos courtesy of author