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30 June 2020

Jess tells us her highs and lows of uni life

Jess hiking overseas on a human rights organisation trip.

Hi, I’m Jess! I’m studying a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in both Middle Eastern Studies and International Politics. Right now as some students finish up with exams and others get ready to begin their first trimester, I understand that hearing the experience of a fellow student can be incredibly helpful. That’s why below I have tried to talk transparently about the highs and lows of uni life. I hope it encourages you that what you’re experiencing is totally normal. Be sure to comment and let me know what you think!

The hardest part of study

I think the hardest part of my studies is trying to balance my work/life/study commitments. Working and studying full time since third year, I definitely struggled to balance study and socialising around these hours. I had to make some sacrifices to make sure my marks were consistent, but choosing to commit to working allowed me to pay for the exciting and interesting extra-curricular experiences of my degree. Studying and working abroad also helped me build up my resume and practical skills. The main thing that really helps me get through the hard times is having a fantastic group of friends who are flexible with our study sessions, and a supportive family and partner who are patient and understanding with my studies.

Receiving results I was unhappy with…

I have definitely had my fair share of results I was unhappy with, as I’m sure anyone has. In the first semester of my first year, I received a Pass in Contract Law. I felt so disappointed and even questioned whether I should continue with the Law degree. However, I decided that I would work harder next semester, see if I could get higher marks and push through. I ended up doing really well the next semester, which boosted my confidence and reminded me that I was capable of achieving anything I put my mind to.

Recently, I received a lower assignment mark that I thought was deserved and was surprised by how positive the corresponding feedback was. I had worked really hard on this assignment and was disappointed for this effort to be reflected in the comments, but not in the mark itself. I contacted the Unit Chair, politely pleaded my case and asked for a re-mark. The Unit Chair remarked the assignment in line with the previous marking comments and rubric assessments, and ended up increasing my mark to one I was very happy with. This made me feel that my work had been recognised and reinforced my feeling of support by the staff at Deakin.

My biggest piece of advice to new students

Take every opportunity that is given to you. Do everything you can to set yourself apart from other candidates and enjoy all the experiences that Deakin can provide. Just do the best you can, don’t compare yourself to others, and realise that you will only get from Deakin what you take. You are in charge of your own success and the only standard you should compete against is your own. I would also say to enjoy yourself and ‘uni life’ more because, in the blink of an eye, five years is over and you’ll be staring down the barrel of the real adult world!

My study routine

Everyone’s methods for study should be unique to what works for them, but sometimes it helps to hear how others are managing their time. I generally study for a few hours at home after I finish work. I then have dinner and if I have the energy, study for a few more hours. On the weekends I like to go into Deakin to study with friends. I enjoy social interaction while studying. I think study routines put a lot of pressure on yourself to maintain. I choose to study as much as I can, when I can, and don’t inflict unrealistic goals upon myself. This helps me maintain good mental health and eliminates the pressure of having a pre-made study schedule (which often don’t account for sickness, fatigue or other unknown factors). Just do your best!

Some highlights

In my second year, I went on a semester exchange to Italy and spent five months studying and travelling around the country. The time I spent in Italy was incredible in exposing me to a variety of different cultures, languages and experiences by forcing me out of my comfort zone. I was able to use my Arts electives to learn about Italian culture and language and the foundations of international marketing and events. It was great to learn something outside of my major sequences and Law degree, and it was made even better by the ability to enjoy an Aperitivo wine and pizza with friends after class!

I then spent my third year living in France with my partner and was fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of Deakin’s online learning platform. I switched to being a ‘Cloud’ student and was able to complete all of my subjects online from France. I spent two semesters in France while I worked in bars and restaurants in a mountain village and travelled around Europe. This experience allowed me to gain excellent time management skills and forced me to be responsible for my own learning. I learned extensive skills in independence while also spending my weekends skiing, hiking and mountain bike riding after listening to my lectures for the week.

Beyond this, I also went to Tanzania to complete a legal internship with a local legal clinic and human rights organisation, and took part in the Middle East Study Tour as the capstone unit for my Middle East major. Both of these experiences reinforced my thoughts of working in the NGO, human rights context and was invaluable in teaching me the skills and experiences necessary for a career in this field.

Without Deakin, I would not have been able to experience any of these life-changing moments and I am so grateful to the support and encouragement that Deakin provides their students, whatever their passion may be.

Jess in Petra as part of the Middle East Study Tour.

Nick and Jess at the Peace Summit for Emerging Leaders

Jess at a lookout near the student accommodation in Verona, Italy on semester exchange.

Are you ready to succeed in online study? Deakin has a range of services available to support you through your studies.

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