The First Year Experience… While many of us have been there and done that, there are thousands of new high school graduates who await their HSC results and have yet to embark upon that awesome adventure known as ‘uni life’.
Franchesca – a passionate learner and UN media intern who is currently undertaking her masters in Global Media Communication at the University of Melbourne – may be getting closer to saying goodbye to her student days but nevertheless has some handy hints to pass on to those who will be beginning their very own post-high school journey in the year to come.
SO… read on if you’re after some insider information or insights into what makes a happy uni life from the get go as told by Franchesca!
After finishing high school, what university and which degree did you choose? Why?
Throughout high school I aspired to study International Relations. I really enjoyed learning about different cultures and languages, which is why my favourite subject in high school was Japanese. When I travelled to Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines with my family, I was really impressed by the uniqueness of Asian culture. Speaking the language, trying local foods, visiting special landmarks and, of course, watching Asian dramas was all part of the cultural experience! When it was time to decide what to study at university, I wanted to continue learning more about Asia, and so I decided to study a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies and Languages at the University of New South Wales.
Books have been written about the “first year” experience. What were three life lessons you think you gained from your first year at uni?
The best thing about the first year of my degree was the flexibility of choosing subjects that I was interested in before declaring my major at the end of my first year. My first-year subjects ranged from International Relations, History, Linguistics, to Introductory Chinese and Korean. I think that being open to learning, even if it is something very new, is the best way to find out where your interests lie, and so I was able to approach the rest of my degree with more confidence.
I also enjoyed meeting new friends who came from a range of degrees and backgrounds. It was fascinating that we all shared the same classes in Asian Studies, but were pursuing different degrees. My classmates were studying Law, Business and Medicine. I learned so much from what they contributed to class discussions. I think it’s great to learn more about your area of interest from a different perspective, where you are also expanding your knowledge in your field of study. It was definitely a memorable experience.
Finally, I will never forget my professors that taught me throughout my undergraduate degree. Each class was always a chance to learn something new and I liked that they were open to sharing their experiences of working in Asia. So, it always helps to ask for advice from your teachers! Their expertise and dedication in teaching the histories, issues and debates in different countries of Asia encouraged me to pursue an Honours degree in Asian Studies.
After achieving your bachelor’s degree you decided to take up post-graduate studies as well. What motivated you to undertake your masters degree?
For my Honours thesis, I was interested in how ancient civilisations in Southeast Asia communicated day-to- day experiences shaping their society. I realised how important it is to be well informed about important issues past and present that are shaping the world. Today, communicating information that is truthful and for the good of society is the media’s main responsibility. I chose to study a Master of Global Media Communication at the University of Melbourne because I would like to help people understand global issues that are shaping the world we live in. So, when we are well informed, we are able to make decisions that can have a positive impact on society.
You’ve recently been taken on by the UN as an intern. What is the internship about and how did you find out about that opportunity?
Applying for an internship with the United Nations was something that my family gave me the courage and support to do. The work of the United Nations in advocating the universal values of social justice and peace is truly inspirational. Reading about the work of the UN on a global scale as well as their work here in Australia on their website encouraged me to apply for their internship program. I am very thankful to have been given the opportunity to work with the Victorian Division of the United Nations Association of Australia as a media and communications intern. My role is to help inform the community about the programs, events and initiatives that the UN in Victoria are currently involved in. This internship also gives me the opportunity to research specific topics and issues of the United Nations such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from a local to a global scale.
What is your SO challenge for your readers?
Don’t be afraid to study what interests you! There may be times when you might feel discouraged or unsure of where your studies might take you, or what you might do as a career. But, I think that this stage of your life is all about learning more about yourself, and you don’t need to have a career all figured out while studying! Pursuing higher degree of study is an opportunity to continue growing not only in intellect but also as a person, and more importantly, in realising what it is that makes you unique. Take things one step at a time, and once you have found what you are passionate about, always give your best effort to commit to it.
SO… dream high, pursue what you love, work hard and be yourself in that process.