Hello everyone from everywhere,
My name is Ines and I'm half German, half Tunisian. I currently study Molecular Ecosystem Sciences at the University of Göttingen in Germany. In 2016, I travelled to Sydney for the first time to visit my sister, who was an Aupair there. Since then, I fall in love with this city.
In July 2020, was so happy to be accepted at UTS for an exchange semester for the semester starting in February 2021. Sadly due to COVID-19, it was held online, so I decided to wait another semester so that Australia hopefully opens their borders. Unfortunately, Sydney had to go in lockdown and no student could come. But I thought I would give it a try anyway: There's nothing I could lose; only knowledge to accumulate and experience to gain.
I opted for this online semester because of the courses UTS offers. My home university did not provide these specific courses. It was a lovely experience to be a beyond borders student because I could study online and travel simultaneously. Although I couldn’t meet local students face to face, I did thanks to group work virtually and being part of the AIESEC in Australia association. Also, being a beyond border ambassador has helped me a lot to be in contact with international students that I hope to meet in person one day.
Although I couldn’t meet local students face to face, I did thanks to group work virtually and being part of the AIESEC in Australia association
As a Beyond Borders ambassador, I learned a lot of new skills and got responsibilities. My colleague, Jinane, and I have worked together for 3 months, organised events, split tasks and advised to do better. This is a very nice way to engage with international students and get the exchange semester feeling: do something new and step out of your confront zone. We had the chance to work with a fun team from Australia that trusted and encouraged us. The beyond borders team, Mrs Kartika, Lisa, Katie and Lily, shared their knowledge and were very supportive.
UTS also offers a lot of clubs and programs like the SOUL and BUILD programs. I participated in both and also as a marketing AIESEC member. Today I can confirm that I am a more confident person due to the self-development I practiced.
The only challenge I faced during this semester was the time zone difference. Personally, it took me a lot of time to make my own schedule because I had to calculate it back to my time zone depending on the month (summer time/winter time) and country I was currently living in (Europe/Tunisia). I also struggled a little bit to not have two classes simultaneously. Later I figured out that most of them are prerecorded anyway. This kind of exchange semester is not what we except before COVID-19, but I was surprised by how fun it can also be online. You learn and expand your network at the same time. Most of the professors are international, too (at least for the courses I took).
This kind of exchange semester is not what we except before COVID-19, but I was surprised by how fun it can also be online.
My advice would be to carefully figure out the time schedules, enrol in classes early before they get full, and use the Canvas app on your smartphone because it gives the exact deadline from your time zone for assignments. Also, I encourage you to enter in your calendar whenever you have quizzes and assignments to hand out—especially quizzes since they are only open for some hours or days.
Don't be afraid of an online semester! I also was at the beginning but honestly is one of the best experiences. You know what they say: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face”.
Name: Ines Boussena
Home Country: Germany