Studying in a Country where Everyone Calls Me “Mate”

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Graduation at Macquarie University Australia
Graduation at Macquarie University Australia

Bakti Abdillah Putra, a Master of International Communication graduate, shared his experience when pursuing his master’s degree at Macquarie University, Australia. Also, he reminisced about the challenges and opportunities during his academic trajectory, which ultimately reshapes who he is today.

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Before I decided to pursue my master’s degree overseas, I never thought I would choose Macquarie University, even Australia, as my destination for studying (and living). Until today, I am still dreaming of flying to the United States or France to experience the moment I cannot feel yet. Thus, how did it happen? How could I finally end up in a country where everyone calls me ‘mate’?

My friend and former colleague, TA (Initial name), received a scholarship from the government to get on her postgraduate school in Applied Linguistics at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia. I asked her how she finally earned that, and she shocked me enough by telling me that she randomly picked a brochure somewhere near her desk and, voila, she went to Sydney!

In front of Macquarie University Library, Sydney. Source: Personal documentation
In front of Macquarie University Library, Sydney. Source: Personal documentation

I was wondering how I could get there and win the prize in Australia! I joined the LPDP Scholarship selection in 2016, and I went back to her, making sure that I was still on the right track. She supported me and said that spending my time in postgraduate school should not be a waste. That is why she just let me choose what I like to study. I was thinking Communication might be interesting since the major is very practical, such as doing radio production courses, visiting media, and doing field research and interviews.

Additionally, I would get a chance to meet people with the same interest and interactivity as mine. Long story short, I decided to study Communication, and I searched for universities across Australia that have the relevant study program/department and have a good reputation. Google said, “Macquarie University should be waiting for ya!”. There I was, and I won a ticket and a scholarship to Australia!

On duty at Sydney Educational Radio 2SER 107.3. Source: Personal documentation
On duty at Sydney Educational Radio 2SER 107.3. Source: Personal documentation

I still remember when I came to my first class, Communication for Social Change, in February 2017, and talked to the convenor. She was doing her daily roll call to her students. As usual, we were supposed to introduce ourselves and tell her why we were there doing that course. When it came to me, I told who I am and the reason why I was there. The convenor was interested to hear that “In the future, I want to be a lecturer like you,” I said. She told me that I was in the right place since the major has been established way earlier in Australia among universities across the country. I never chose Macquarie University at first glance, but the department (and its facilities) where I could use the studio, work in the computer lab, explore the library, or simply study at the precinct. That was the moment of my first class, which challenged yet motivated me to be who I am today.

During my academic journey as a postgraduate student there, I faced obstacles and opportunities in turn. I got my first ’45 out of 100’ mark for my first essay in “Asia Pacific in the Globalised World” course. Moreover, I experienced racial profiling in a public space because I look ‘Asian.’ This also affected my academic performance since my GPA declined significantly. Nevertheless, those moments did not make me a whiner. I tried to be grateful, kept close with my family and closest people, and went to the advisors to find solutions for my problems.

Together with the team at Sydney Educational Radio 2SER 107.3. Source: Personal documentation
Together with the team at Sydney Educational Radio 2SER 107.3. Source: Personal documentation

Between those times, I also would not forget how proud I was to be an essential part of campus radio, 2SER 107.3, and Radio PPI Dunia. Excitingly, I learned the language of coding in Interactive Communication by designing a website for studying English called ‘Baxy Learning English.’ Those moments made me alive and connected to those passionate about what they are doing in life. During my academic trajectory, I got to see beautiful places in the country and abroad as well to present my first international seminar in Kyoto, Japan.

 

What I want to say to those who are starting their journey as an international student, in whatever level of education they are, is to enjoy the moment and always pray and be grateful. Your parameter of success is yourselves. No one can tell you what to do unless you let them. Wake up again and see that there are still some around you who care. Also, it is essential to admit if you need help or when you are weak. Those who care will come to you.

Conference Day I at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan, January 2018. Source: Personal documentation
Conference Day I at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan, January 2018. Source: Personal documentation

I am currently a Communication lecturer, and I sometimes smile when I remember those moments I spent down under. I still remember how I felt when I was a student, and I can see it in my students’ faces right now. They struggle, yet they want to make themselves and their parents proud. I indeed support them to be the best version of themselves in whatever positive pathway that they choose. Hopefully, my writing can be read by many and inspiring to those who want to feel the adventure I shared!

G’Day, mates!

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Editor: Yogi Saputra Mahmud

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Bakti Abdillah
Bakti Abdillah Putra is currently teaching as a Communication Lecturer at Sampoerna University, Jakarta. Bakti earned his master’s degree in International Communication from Macquarie University, Sydney, in 2018, which was fully sponsored by LPDP-RI Scholarship. He already presented and published his papers in international conferences and proceedings around hate speech, representation, international relations, and teaching & learning. He also speaks for public speaking seminars, communication skills at work, and teaching English as a second language. He also puts his interests in radio since he was a producer for Sydney Educational Radio (2SER 107.3) and an announcer for Radio Persatuan Pelajar Indonesia (PPI) Dunia representing Australia.