By Mikhaela Jimenez (Executive Director, AHON Movement)
My learning adventure in Australia began in the second semester of 2007, at the tender age of 22. Fresh from finishing studies in Finance & International Business in Los Angeles, I ventured on to Australian soil to complete a combined Masters in Logisitics Management and Masters in International Business at the University of Sydney.
As a young lady from the Philippines, settling in alone in Sydney- a major city, where I didn’t have any relatives- was surprisingly simple. It was a pleasant and safe experience. The University of Sydney (USYD) offered most, if not all, the assistance and information needed to successfully settle in. USYD provided an online database of accommodation and casual employment, on- campus internet access and printing, on-site legal consultancy, counselling, and many other services for free. In addition, the USYD campus was very strategically located; only a walking distance away from a shopping mall where I could watch movies & buy my groceries; and the soulful streets of Newtown which gave me access to nutritious and delicious Thai food for only $5 and the latest trends in fashion from the runways of Europe at student-friendly prices! It was a wonderful place and a wonderful time. Of course, the university was also only a walking distance away from Redfern Train Station, plus there were numerous bus stops within the vicinity. I was blessed enough to get my own car but I must admit, commute and public transportation in Sydney is among the best in the world.
I loved my classes in Sydney. The curriculum at USYD consisted of a lecture, and a tutorial session per course subject. The tutorial sessions or ‘tute groups’, as they are called by Aussies are a separate class/ period from the lectures, yet they are of the same course subject. I think this is a unique feature in Australian universities, as I never came across this in my study in the Philippines, nor in the USA. A typical lecture can be given by a professor to hundreds of students which can last 3 hours. This would be complemented by a one- hour tutorial session at a different schedule on a weekly basis which would be among 20 or so students only, which would break up into even smaller groups to participate in exercises to better understand and present on the corresponding lectures to a different instructor.
The student population was very multicultural. I remember I had classmates from 6 of the 7 continents on Earth, and we all learned from each other’s diverse backgrounds. Plus, the sprawling and centuries old campus of USYD with both contemporary and classic architecture was very inspiring and conducive to study.
Oddly enough, the best part of my learning adventure in Australia did not happen in the university, rather it was in the outdoors- the ocean, sun & surf, parks & open spaces, churches & cathedrals, museums, and restaurants. Australians are very friendly people. Lasting and reliable friendships are easily formed. When I wasn’t studying in university or working, I’d go out with my mates to the beach, take surfing lessons, roam about town, try different restaurants and cuisines, visit different Catholic churches, and travel to different places. Every moment was exciting!
My learning adventure in Australia ended in the second semester of 2009 at the less tender age of 24. After which, I promptly headed back to my beloved homeland, the Philippines.
Today, I work for a Philippine NGO specializing in bamboo propagation, environmental rehabilitation, and community outreach called AHON Movement. My experience and learning adventure in USYD has equipped me with the skills and knowledge to adapt international best practice trends to our programs. Choosing Australia for study has also provided me a valuable international network that has supported our projects.
I am happy that I made the right choice in accomplishing my studies at the University of Sydney. It has been a wise investment with the returns of a future unlimited.
(This article is published on AlumNews July 2012 Issue)