Experience of an Indian student at Australia’s University of Wollongong

Experience of an Indian student at Australia's University of Wollongong

The main reason behind her choosing to study International Security was to understand why there are conflicts in the world. Moreover, she wanted to find solutions that will help her work towards a more secure world free from any kind of terror. At the Age of 5, her parents exposed her to activism. Through this course, she was able to study the concept of human security. Moreover, this connected with her thoughts on activism in India.

A student named Sanjoli Banerjee from Karnal, Haryana shares her experience of studying in Australia. She moved to Australia in 2017 for her undergraduate studies at Australian National University (ANU). She had pursued International Security. She completed her education in 2020 and she returned to India the same year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to pursue a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Wollongong, she again went to Australia.

She had been tracking the life story of many of her favourite leaders since her childhood. She had noticed that all of them had studied abroad and then came back to India. Their motto was mainly social reform and such leaders included Swami Vivekanand, Sarojini Naidu or Mahatma Gandhi. She too wanted to do something for society once she complete her studies. She strongly believes that her services and potential are needed in India and that there was a long way to travel.

Reasons for Australia being her preference

She was pursuing BA (Hons) in Political Science at Miranda House, Delhi University in 2016. However, as she had the desire to study abroad, she decided to try it out. She did a lot of research after which she chose the Australian National University. In order to be completely sure of choosing the university, she and her father went to Australia to attend the open day of the University. As soon as she felt that the quality of education is better there, in 2017, she withdrew her admission from DU and enrolled at ANU. ANU was ranked number 1 in Australia at that time. Moreover, it was also ranked sixth globally.

The main reason behind her choosing to study International Security was to understand why there are conflicts in the world. Moreover, she wanted to find solutions that will help her work towards a more secure world free from any kind of terror. At the Age of 5, her parents exposed her to activism. Through this course, she was able to study the concept of human security. Moreover, this connected with her thoughts on activism in India.

She also works on all kinds of issues that range from female foeticide to saving the environment. Issues relating to mental health and menstrual hygiene are also covered. She and her sister run an NGO called Sarthi. She realized that security studies are more about policymaking after studying the subject. She prefers the grass root approach rather than working at an office. For this reason, she has chosen to study for a Master’s in Social Work.

Link between Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses

The concept of human security is much related to social work which forms a better linkage between the Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses that she is pursuing. However, the events that took place were not as smooth as it seems to be. After the pandemic, the world came to a standstill. During that period, she received an opportunity to study Public Policy at the United Nations University in the Netherlands. However, she had let go of the opportunity due to the pandemic.

She joined Christ University in 2021. At that time, she had decided to pursue social work for her post-graduation. Thus, she did not choose to apply to the UN university again. However, she felt that it would be better to study abroad after joining the university. This is because in India, social work is not a full-fledged profession. It is still emerging. Moreover, opportunities such as meeting people from different countries and different cultures, as she got from Australia, were not available in India.

Upgraded Education System in Australia

There is a lot of emphasis on self-study in Australia. Students are mandated to read a lot of articles and expand their knowledge about the given subject. Students in Australia write research essays, make presentations and critically reflect on reports. Through general assessments, one can assess their progress. A variety of opportunities such as leadership or volunteering are offered in Australia. In Australia, she has volunteered for many causes.

Moreover, students are always encouraged to learn new languages. They are also given the opportunity to take part in exchange programs, engage with politics and many more. When she was at ANU in 2019, for a day, she got an opportunity to be a Member of the Australian Parliament. She took over the office of Senator and met with the then-Prime Minister. However, it is not possible to gain such an opportunity in India.

There are opportunities in India but they are mainly for students who study in premium institutions. However, in Australia, everyone is given these opportunities. There is a lot of work-integrated learning in Australia. Thus, her work is not just studying social work in her class, but she is also working at the grassroots level. Therefore, students gain industry experience through this method. Moreover, it leads to better employment opportunities and helps in understanding the industry that they are a part of.

Necessary Documents for Admissions

February is the start of the Australian semester and it ends in June. The second semester is from July to November. It is peak summer time in Australia in December and January. She submitted her mark sheets from Class 9 to 12, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose explaining why she wanted to pursue the course, her reason behind choosing Australia, her future goals and more, and essays to apply for the scholarship and interview for her bachelor’s at ANU. She applied for a scholarship during her graduation for which she was eligible. It was for AUD 5000.

She needed documents such as her bachelor’s degree, statement of purpose, letter of recommendation and financial documents stating her parents’ source of income, tax returns and property papers for her master’s. This would ensure that the student will be able to financially sustain themselves in Australia. They don’t have a scholarship for a master’s of social work at the University of Wollongong in Australia. However, she was able to fund her education through the bank loan which her parents took.

She stays at the International House, which is a student accommodation provided by the university. She has a room for herself, and the kitchen, dining room and washrooms are shared by others. As there are only limited spots, she considers herself lucky for availing themselves of student accommodation. Moreover, it is quite expensive. However, they only have to cook lunch as breakfast and dinner are received from the accommodation.

Australia and its Multiculturalism

Australia has people from all over the world and hence it is very multicultural. As people from all over the world reside in Australia, they bring their food and culture from their home countries. However, every country has its own pros and cons. Children are more susceptible to developing mental health issues as they leave their homes quite early in life, that is, at the age of 18 to lead their independent lives. However, the society in India is more collective. This enables children to have a safety net with strong familial connections.

In the course of social work, they also learn how Australia deals with racism, towards its own population as well as the refugees and migrants. However, currently, in Australia, the situation is changing as it is very serious about building an equitable society with respect to social justice and human rights. Therefore, Australian cities are some of the most liveable in the world.

You have to support yourself

She advises students who are going abroad to learn to take care of themselves. She states that since she started living on her own, she has learned a lot about the world. She is currently dealing with daily challenges and she has come out of the safe and secure bubble in which she was earlier residing in.

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