Global Graduates – a Q&A with past students at overseas Universities

Published February 8, 2024

We are always proud and love to watch our students pursue a wide range of tertiary studies, both nationally and internationally. Our fantastic Careers Faculty works with students to help them apply to leading universities worldwide. We caught up with Old Girls Arabella Patrick and Helena Haldane, who are both currently studying at university in Sydney and Melbourne

What made you decide to pick The University of Sydney?

I decided in my last few years of school that I wanted to pursue Medicine as a career. From here I started researching the potential Universities. I realised that I wanted to do something that pushed me out of my comfort zone, something that would bring me self-growth.

The University of Sydney, has a prestigious reputation in academic achievement and research, and is widely recognised both nationally and internationally for its employability and outstanding graduate qualities. The University has a plethora of top-notch faculty and cutting-edge resources. Reaching out to Old Girls who were at the University, was extremely beneficial for me. They informed me of the vibrant and diverse culture of the Uni and its strong commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. I found that it was the forefront of research in many medical fields, and this was extremely compelling and exciting to me. Although I was set on pursuing medicine, I also had a passion for English, Philosophy and Politics. Something really captivating about Sydney Uni was that within my Undergraduate degree in Pre[1]medicine I could choose courses completely out of my subject field. This meant I could continue to pursue my other passions whilst still working towards my career goals.

What are you studying?

I am studying a Bachelor of Medical Science. I am hoping to continue into a postgraduate Doctor of Medicine.

What do you enjoy about being at University in Sydney?

Have there been any challenges? The city is awesome, the beaches are super close by, there are countless beautiful parks, incredible art galleries, restaurants and great night life that make this city so inviting. It was a challenge. Moving away from home, I barely knew anyone. University is nowhere near as structured as school. University is all self-led, which can be amazing at times, but also challenging. You must learn how to manage yourself, stay motivated and create a balance between social life and study. I was challenged personally as I had to find out who I was without the structure that school had provided for me. It was hard, but I wouldn’t change anything for the world – I have grown as a person in ways I didn’t even know were possible.

Tell us about the accommodation / halls of residence

I attended St John’s College for my first year of uni. This is a residential college on the Sydney University campus. All the Colleges are incredible, they have beautiful campuses, great academic resources such as weekly tutorials for subjects and extensive library collections, and a great social culture. The Colleges partake in intercollegiate competitions which is a really great way to get involved and show your skills and passions. They have incredible sports and dance teams, drama, art, singing, music and debating. Although it’s not for everyone, College life was a very important steppingstone for me in moving to Sydney. It allowed me to make friends and establish myself at university in a new city!

Do you have any advice for girls wanting to apply to an overseas university?

My advice would be to be organised and prepared. If you are interested in living on Campus in a College and/or obtaining a Scholarship make sure you know when the deadlines are. For scholarships and College applications, they want to see a well-rounded person with passion! Although academic prowess is important, what is just as important are cultural, musical, or sporting passions! The universities also want you to get in, don’t forget that! In terms of deciding where you want to go, or which College/Halls of residence you want to live at, my advice would be to not to worry too much. What I didn’t understand was that it’s not always about where you are but about your attitude and your drive.

How did the St Cuthbert’s Careers Team help with your application?

The Careers team helped me organise my application, meet deadlines, find support in networking and much more. St Cuthbert’s Careers counsellors were incredible as I got to have one-on-one guidance with a careers counsellor. In these sessions, I identified with the staff, my strengths, interests, and career goals. They helped me to explore various ways of going about my career path, searching to find what would suit me best. The main benefit of the Careers team was that it put me contact with Old Girls, which as I mentioned, was such a helpful part in this journey. There are so many lovely Old Girls, including me who would be more than happy to help you out with your exciting journey.

What made you decide to pick the University of Melbourne?

In my final year of school I knew I wanted the chance to pursue my university study overseas, and Australia seemed like an exciting option as I had never been before. The University of Melbourne has been a wonderful place to start my tertiary study journey as they employ what is called the ‘Melbourne model’. This has meant that my degree is structured in a way that allows me to learn from disciplines outside of my majors. I have been able to expand my skills and abilities as a learner, which has suited me, as I was not completely sure what to study straight out of school! It was important to me to attend a university that was in an interesting city that I was able to explore. Melbourne, as a unique, vibrant and cultural hub, has allowed me to do just that!

What are you studying?

I am studying a Bachelor of Arts, double majoring in Media and Communications and Politics and International Studies.

What do you enjoy about being at University in Melbourne? Have there been any challenges?

I thoroughly enjoy studying at the University of Melbourne, as it is an institution that prioritises its Arts education. It is unique, as the degree structure incorporates ‘Breadths’ – classes that are outside your discipline, that engage you in a wide range of study. These classes have allowed me to explore areas of study that I didn’t know existed. The University has a beautiful campus, just outside Melbourne CBD. With its interesting buildings, beautiful open spaces and wonderful cafes, the campus is a place I always want to come back to! The students I have met at the University are intelligent and engaged, and I have learnt as much from them as I have from my lecturers. This experience has not been without its challenges. In my first year, I struggled with the level of independent thinking. The expectation to formulate ideas and find my academic voice was initially hard for me to wrap my head around! Half way through my degree, I can confidently say that I feel I have developed that voice and enjoy the level of independent, critical thinking my degree offers.

Tell us about the accommodation / Halls of Residence

The University of Melbourne has affiliated residential colleges that are similar to Halls of Residence in NZ. These Colleges have a Student Club which plans social, sporting and cultural events that foster community spirit and inspire intercollegiate competition. I have had the most wonderful two years at University College, fondly referred to as UC, where I am currently the Student Club President. This means that I oversee the student led team that plans and executes all events and works. Our motto is love, passion and die hard spirit, and I see this brought into everything we do. UC welcomes students from other Universities so the College is full of a diverse and unique group of people. University is a huge step and moving to another country, I knew that I wanted a supportive and welcoming community to provide a base in this time of transition.

Do you have any advice for girls wanting to apply to an overseas university?

My advice is to put yourself out there! It is not something you will regret giving a try, no matter the outcome. After my last two years of school were changed by lockdowns, I was ready for an adventure! Living in another country is a big step but I personally feel I have grown and gained confidence in myself and my independent capabilities. It has allowed me to have faith in my ability to take risks even when I don’t know what is waiting for me. If studying overseas is something you have thought about, my advice would be to be brave, there is no harm in giving it a try. You learn so much from the application process alone!

How did the St Cuthbert’s Careers Team help with your application?

I am so grateful for all the help Mrs Vink and the Careers team gave me throughout my application process. I started talking to Mrs Vink in Year 11 about what I wanted to do, and she suggested the University of Melbourne with its flexible, yet structured degree that would be beneficial for me as a student with lots of interests! Mrs Vink motivated me to apply to the University of Melbourne Aspiring Scholars’ community which gave me access to webinars and Q&A sessions, a unique introduction to the university. The Careers team supported me through the application process to both the University and the College which is a huge undertaking in your last year of school. I am so grateful for the help and care they offered me in making my university goals a reality. I couldn’t have done it without them!

Tell us about the US exchange you have to look forward to.

The University of Melbourne has an incredible exchange partnership program with host Universities all around the world where you are able to continue your degree at another institution. It is in line with the University of Melbourne’s aim to provide an education that equips you with the tools necessary to grow as a global citizen. I will be going to Pennsylvania State University for the first semester of 2024. The chance to study at an American University for six months was an academic opportunity I could not pass up. I picked Pennsylvania State University because of its renowned politics department and the chance to engage with quintessential American College life. I am so looking forward to it!