Taking My Opportunity: Studying International Relations in Australia

One can get used to working in an industry for decades; make a small niche for oneself and then believe that all the check boxes in the journey of life have been ticked. However, the craving for some further knowledge can always be a silent motivator. After working in the Information Technology industry for nearly two decades, it was a ‘sea change’ decision for me to pursue a formal degree in the Social Sciences.

After working in the IT industry for nearly two decades, it was a ‘sea change’ decision for me to pursue a formal degree in the Social Sciences.

The admission process for candidates without prior education or training in the Social Sciences is not as straightforward as it may appear, since your earlier qualifications and experience in an altogether different field does not necessarily enhance your standing as a potential student for a Masters Degree. It came as a pleasant surprise, therefore, when Deakin University accepted me as a student for their Master of Arts (International Relations) at the Burwood Campus. It was an opportunity I was not going to let go.

On my first day of classes, I was full of enthusiasm for this opportunity to learn new things, but also nervous about how to fit in with a group of younger and ebullient students. The class format turned out to be quite different from what I had imagined. Lectures to introduce and contextualize the topic were not delivered as a monologue, and were followed by free flowing group discussions among the students and the lecturers. My nerves settled as I found myself interacting with a friendly peer group and the lecturer acting as a facilitator rather than as an instructor.

Lectures… were not delivered as a monologue, and were followed by free flowing group discussions.

Sitting inside the Library at the Melbourne Burwood Campus.

This first impression remained consistent over the course of my studies, demonstrating that university rankings are not reflective of the real intellectual spaces that universities provide. Deakin University may not be in the revered and privileged G-8 group of universities in Australia, but it provided me with an ideal learning environment in all respects:  I had excellent and knowledgeable lecturers, received guidance and support during my studies, exploring different ideas was encouraged and discussion thrived in the classroom.

University rankings are not reflective of the real intellectual spaces that universities provide.

I decided to undertake a research-based dissertation in the final semester of my Masters degree. In hindsight, I can claim it to be the most appropriate decision for my future plans to continue my studies in higher degree research. The dissertation required real hard work, especially in the beginning, but as I neared completion, I was offered the most brilliant reward. My lecturer encouraged me to participate in the 3rd Renmin-Deakin Conference to be held at Renmin University in Beijing, China in October 2015.

Speaking at the 3rd Renmin-Deakin Conference in Beijing.

Speaking at the 3rd Renmin-Deakin Conference in Beijing.

The opportunity to participate in an international conference as a Masters student is very rare and definitely a career high point for me as a researcher. I gained a great deal of confidence and motivation from the tremendous support I had received from my lecturers and from the experience of presenting to an international audience. At the conference it was declared that both Deakin and Renmin University have decided to institutionalize the participation of graduate students for this conference. This is an invaluable opportunity for future generations of Master of Arts (International Relations) students at Deakin and I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

For more information about studying at Deakin and to view the many degrees on offer, visit our international student page.

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