Double Degree: First Year in Melbourne

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At the Nobbies, Phillip Island

Nowadays, many students want to study abroad. One of the ways to do this is by taking the Double Degree program which our contributor, Veronika Xaveria, is involved. In this article, contributor Veronika Xaveria shares her first-year experiences when studying and living in Victoria, Australia, as a part of her 2-year Double Degree program overseas at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Let’s check it out!

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Hi everyone, it’s me Veronika who previously shared my experience at International Undergraduate Program in the Faculty of Economics and Business Universitas Gadjah Mada (IUP FEB UGM). You can read my previous article here.

Now, I’m going to share you my first-year experience in Victoria, Australia as part of my 2-year Double Degree (DD) Program overseas at the University of Melbourne. A little bit of information for those who are interested in taking DD, this curriculum scheme is offered by three state universities (PTN) in Indonesia, namely UGM, UI, and ITB. Taking DD can be an alternative for students who want to go overseas and experience the taste of studying in our home country, Indonesia. Anyway, feel free to contact me if you have any other questions related to this program.

If truth be told, I’ve never been to Australia before, so I was first quite nervous yet excited to take the willingness to go to Melbourne which is well-known as the world’s most liveable city. I arrived there in July 2018 to attend university orientation preceding the teaching period that started at the end of the month. One unique fact about Australia is its seasons that are at opposite times to those in the northern hemisphere. Basically, July is the coldest month as it is a winter season and thus when I first arrived I could not live without heather. I stay in Lygon Street, Carlton which is well-known as Melbourne’s Little Italy offering a variety of dining destinations such as Brunetti’s, Universal Restaurant, Pidapipó Gelateria, Yo-Chi, and many more. There are so many activities and events to be attended in Melbourne, for instance, you can go to Winter Night Market in Queen Victoria Market to find delicious, mouthwatering delicacies, and see various attractions there.

Concerning academic aspect, I will say inherent in the distinction between Indonesia and Australia is the way critical thinking and reading, writing, and the willingness to take charge are highly emphasized here. Frankly speaking, I was pretty shocked when I arrived in Melbourne as the academic standard and the expectations are different from what I expected before. Therefore, I have to put extra efforts by learning to learn better. In Indonesia, I can attend seven to eight classes per semester, while here the maximum number of class that we can take per semester is only four classes. Yet, the workload here is (to be honest) atrocious compared to my previous uni experience! So make sure to manage your time wisely and carefully and avoid procrastination.

Moreover, you also have an opportunity to practice cross-cultural collaboration with people coming from all over the world. Here, the challenge arises when you have to express a complex opinion and through language which is not your mother tongue. Even though we all talk in English, there are also such things like non-verbal communication, body language, accent, and work ethics that you have to be aware of when interacting with others. For your information, the lecture here is not recorded so you pretty much have the flexibility to decide whether you want to attend the class or not.

However, I would say that the University of Melbourne offers you countless enrichment programs that you can take part in. They want you to balance both academic and social skills to stand out of the crowd and be job-ready even before you graduate. So you have to study really hard, even proactively approach your lecturer or tutor if you want to discuss things that you don’t understand to get help from them; Yet, you are encouraged to take your time to also explore programs that will give you value-added experiences. For instance, during my second month in Melbourne, I decided to participate in the Australia-ASEAN Youth Summit Case Competition 2018. The unique thing about the case competition in Melbourne is the fact that sometimes they offer you a chance to sign up individually instead of signing up as a group. As I was quite busy at the time of registration, I then decided to sign up individually. Eventually, I got to meet my three groupmates who apparently come from diverse countries; China, Singapore, and Vietnam. Again, I faced a few challenges related to different working culture and communicating with each other. Yet, I learned that our strength lies in differences in which we got to collaborate and assess diverse perspectives and fresh opinion from each other, which consequently prevents groupthink from happening. This consequently allowed us to clinch a third-place award in the case competition.

With my team at Australia-ASEAN Youth Summit Case Competition 2018
With my team at Australia-ASEAN Youth Summit Case Competition 2018

Another fun thing that you can do in Melbourne is to go on a road trip together with your friends. Doing this allows you not only to enjoy the charming city of Melbourne CBD, buildings and skyscraper, but also the impeccable coastlines and breathtaking view. That’s why last year I decided to take a trip to Phillip Island and Gippsland together with my friend and my seniors from UGM where we drove there by car. Admittedly, the natural beauty of Australia managed to blow me away and it is indeed the experience that I won’t be taking for granted.

At the Nobbies, Phillip Island
At the Nobbies, Phillip Island

That said, when it comes to career, finding a job here in Melbourne is incredibly tough, especially for international students as most of the companies here require applicants to have Permanent Residency or Australian Citizenship. Gratefully, I was privileged to be accepted to the career mentoring program offered within the Faculty of Business and Economics which matches us as mentees with mentors of the industry to be involved in a mutually beneficial relationship. This program permits me to gain valuable transferrable skills and knowledge from my mentor by means of industry event invitation and tips and tricks for getting my first part-time job here as a sales representative.

Industry Event: Deloitte Australia #DisruptorsInTech Meetup
Industry Event: Deloitte Australia #DisruptorsInTech Meetup

All in all, life is pretty challenging in my first year, yet I admit that they were really eye-opening experiences. As captured by Steven Aitchison, “Taking responsibility for your life is the biggest challenge you will have, but it is also the most beautiful gift you can give yourself”. So yeah, that was it, see you in my next article!

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Photos provided by the author