Starting my studies during a global pandemic

Growing up I have always had two great interests, reading and writing. For the longest time I believed that when the time comes, I would have to choose just one to study at University – so I chose to pursue a masters in literature in Pakistan. When I started looking to pursue further studies, I was conflicted once again. Should I choose literature, or should I choose writing?

When I was searching universities to apply to, Deakin was the first university to grasp my interest. With a multitude of courses catering to so many different avenues, I knew that once I started studying at Deakin, I would have plethora of opportunities to grow in various fields.

When I found Deakin’s Master of Arts (Writing and Literature), I was ecstatic. A course that not only allowed me to follow both passions but also allowed me to excel and work in both fields with numerous internship opportunities as well as renowned teachers to learn and study from.

The campus and accommodation provided by Deakin was another reason. As I took online campus and dorm tours, I could truly imagine the safety and comfort provided to students. It seemed like the best place to move to alone for the first time.

After I gained an interest in Deakin, I also started researching the city of Melbourne and the surrounding areas, and I was not disappointed. I found such a vast array of cultures and ethnicities being promoted and supported, it again put my mind at ease regarding safety and acceptance.

My application was already in process when the COVID-19 global pandemic hit. I had two choices; either I put my studies on hold or move forward with Deakin’s O2O pathway.  I chose to continue with the O2O pathway because I was adamant that I would continue my studies and start learning as soon as possible. Furthermore, I well and truly believed that the international travel restrictions would be eased soon enough, however, that didn’t really work out. But with Deakin’s O2O pathway I still have faith that sooner rather than later I can travel and take classes in Melbourne, Australia, and enjoy campus life.  

The information provided of the O2O pathway was perfectly detailed and easily accessible. As an international student, there were many questions that I had and each query was perfectly catered for and explained, whether it was through an enquiry or call. Deakin staff and their replies have always been quick and concise and efficient. I salute the patience of everyone responding to and helping students in these conflicting times.

Starting my degree online

There are many advantages to studying online. One of the greatest advantages is the recorded classes. Even after attending the live session, if there was any confusion or if I want to refresh what I have learned, the lectures are easily available to re-watch. Secondly, there is comfort in attending classes from your own home. Sitting in an environment that is wholly familiar and comfortable when taking classes truly eases the stress that you might feel.

Comfortably attending classes from my own home

The weekly readings are available on Deakin’s online Cloud Campus for the students to read and study before classes. The classes are either held on Zoom or the ‘Blackboard Classroom.’ I personally preferred the ‘Blackboard Classroom,’ because it is much easier to engage with the teachers and students. The assignments are all submitted online, and results are released in a weeks’ time.

The greatest support offered by Deakin is truly the around-the-clock help lines that are set up. No matter what the question or confusion, Deakin staff have always been fully available to respond and talk to. Furthermore, the Deakin website is in itself extremely up to date and clear leading to relevant information rather than being spun around in circles.

Studying online also presents some challenges, most that I have never truly faced before. Challenges like the time difference between Pakistan and Melbourne (although the University kindly records lectures), poor internet connection and not being able to physically use the library resources.

I am greatly looking forward to on-campus study. To finally be able to form friendships and build communities, to take part in activities and societies, and have face-to-face interactions with my teachers and fellow students. Hopefully on-campus classes will cease to become a distant reality soon enough.

I am hoping that the near future will revolve around successfully completing my degree at Deakin, with the opportunity of studying on campus when international travel restrictions ease.

After that, I hope to work for a publishing company, reading through manuscripts and helping up-and-coming writers to perfect their craft so that their stories can be read by the people. Who knows, maybe I’ll be lucky enough to have my own writings published one day.

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