‘No worries mate’:
studying at UNSW extends well beyond the classroom
With Australia’s most diverse student population and a campus located
in Australia’s most exciting city, UNSW offers international students a
global experience alongside a world-class education.
Sydney: a global city
full of opportunity
For newly arrived international students at the University of New South
Wales (UNSW), experiences beyond the classroom can be as enriching as
their academic studies.
Recently, a mixed group of
students gathered on the University’s Kensington campus to learn the
basics of Australian slang, demystifying the words and phrases like “ta”
and “no worries” they’d been hearing since they arrived in Sydney.
Others have equipped
themselves with essential safety tips for surviving Australia’s wild
coast, and lessons are planned on workplace culture, sport and
Australia’s public holidays. Such is the enthusiasm from students to
know more about the Australian way of life that UNSW’s has newly
launched Culture of Oz, a program that is being piloted in response to
student feedback calling for more information about Australian culture.
Many students are
attracted to UNSW for its location – close to both Sydney city and the
stunning beaches of the Eastern suburbs – plus the opportunity of a rich
experience. This includes excellent weather, a variety of sports, and
access to a modern and vibrant campus, which is being upgraded in a
major redevelopment. In addition to this, at UNSW, students are also
given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the local lifestyle and
Creating a more enriching student experience
To ensure international students make the most of their time at UNSW,
the University provides a range of services to help newly arrived
students transition to life on campus. These include scholarships and
awards, housing assistance, free campus-wide wireless internet, and free
and confidential counselling, careers and academic skills workshops, as
well as programs like “Culture of Oz”.
“Research shows that
students have a much better chance of succeeding in their degree if they
can make at least one social contact during their first few weeks at
university,” says Georgia Blérot, Project Officer with UNSW’s Student
Development International, a body which runs programs and activities to
help create a more enriching experience for students.
“That’s why we spend a lot
of effort in assisting newly commencing international students to settle
in once they arrive.”
Even before they arrive in
Australia, new international students can apply to be matched with a
cultural mentor, an experienced UNSW student available to answer
questions and provide valuable insight into studying at UNSW and living
well as answering specific questions by email, mentors accompany the new
students to a variety of social events, such as barbecues at the beach,
cruises of Sydney Harbour and historic tours of the city.
“It’s quite a big
challenge when you relocate overseas and you don’t have a social support
network,” says Bettina Forde, a Law student and UNSW cultural mentor.
“They tend to email quite
frequently in the first couple of weeks … But then they become less
reliant on us, which is a really encouraging because it means they are
settling in to university life.”
Fostering UNSW’s unique
UNSW has one of Australia’s most diverse student populations, with
students from more than 120 countries and a more than 60-year history of
welcoming international students. This diversity is an opportunity for
both Australian and international students to develop a global focus.
International runs a language exchange program where local and
international students meet up and exchange language and cultural
insights at events and activities throughout the semester.
Cross-cultural links are also encouraged within the class. In semester
two 2012, a record 700 students signed up for the program.
Recent NSW International
Student of the Year, Zimbabwe-born postgraduate design student Stephen
Chikazaza, says both his course work and social life benefitted from
meeting students from many different backgrounds.
“We had a good mix of
students, from Pakistan, Sweden, Indonesia, China and Australia.
Everyone in the program had different design backgrounds; some had been
involved in architecture, some in interior design and some in graphic
design – that’s what also made it so interesting, to learn from my
classmates as well as my instructors,” he says.