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Nishan Chatterjee

21 April 2020

Meet Nishan, a SEBE student and Peer Mentor who’s full of good advice for study success!

Nishan Chatterjee is a second-year Master of Construction Management (Professional) student at the Geelong Waterfront Campus. Coming from India to study at Deakin, Nishan has had to adjust to the different cultural, educational and social ways of his adopted country. The move to online study as a result of COVID-19 has brought additional challenges, so we asked Nishan a few questions about how he’s found studying at Deakin and what he’s doing to stay motivated as we all stay socially distant.

What do you enjoy most about university?

I’ve found Deakin to be really welcoming and culturally inclusive, with great online support services and flexible learning systems. I love spending time in the Waterfront Library.

What’s been the most difficult part of adjusting to life in Australia and study at university?

The Australian culture and learning environment is starkly different from that in India. It took me a while to realise how supportive and accessible Deakin’s professors and tutors are for students. I had to find the right work–life balance and adapt to how assessments are done here.

What services or resources have you used on campus and how did they help?

The SEBE Peer Support Network (PSN) really helped me get used to studying in my first trimester, especially as I’d had a long break from studying. I then became a Peer Mentor myself and have really enjoyed the experience of supporting new students, contributing to their progress and seeing my own personal growth too! The library services and Writing Mentors were also a big help and showed me how to adapt to new types of assessments.

I’ve also been able to use Deakin platforms to sit through a couple of interviews for some of the finest construction companies in Australia.

I managed to break my arm in my first month in Australia but Deakin’s Health and Wellbeing service saved me a lot of trouble! And I’ve met new people through DUSA’s clubs and PSN’s fun activities.

How do you fit your studies around the rest of your life? Do you have a routine?

For most assessments and exams, I allocate a fixed number of hours during trimester. Having a good routine helps me to manage and prioritise my work and study.

Reading, meditation, working out and music keep me occupied when I’m not studying, cooking or working. It’s so important to have balance and I can’t stress enough the importance of regular meditation and reading. I always dedicate some hours for ‘Netflix and chill’ during the week! Enjoying my time with music and the guitar keeps me fresh and stops me from feeling homesick and missing my family overseas.

What are your top tips for preparing for exams?

Make sure you stay up to date with the unit curriculum by attending your seminars and lectures. Factoring in some self-study during the week always helps me with unit assessments and acing examinations, without frantic efforts at the last moment!

Deakin has great tools and resources, especially the Writing Mentors and other library services. The PSN mentor program helps you to organise yourself and prepare for all kinds of assessments and examinations, so attend the weekly mentoring sessions to make the most of your experience. I recommend that you ask for feedback on your work from unit chairs and tutors – it really does help with assessments and allows you to explore subjects more deeply.

If you could change one thing about your uni experience what would it be?

I would have made the most of volunteering opportunities straight away – not just with Deakin but also with associations like Study Geelong and Red Cross. This is satisfying but also adds to the cultural experience for international students. I would also have explored the DeakinTALENT platform earlier to work on my resume and increase my employability in Australia.

How have you been coping with the COVID-19 situation?

Fortunately, Deakin has a strong online presence and much of its content delivery is suited for online learning. Quarantined at home, I’m able to access and learn several software programs using online tools and tutorials as well as doing my coursework. The learning environment is training me to prioritise better and use available resources wisely. I have also benefited from Deakin’s financial support during these challenging times, keeping me afloat and hopeful.

While we’ve been self-isolating, I’ve made sure to keep to my routine and not lose track of time. It’s great to use this time to learn some new software or find new passions. I try to keep in touch with my family, university and work friends through online communication daily – this helps keep me sane and makes me hopeful about overcoming these challenging times soon.

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