For many students, heading to a university presents their first opportunity to live overseas. Every year, thousands of graduates leave our shores for popular educational destinations, and the unique learning opportunities that they offer.
Among the many institutes of higher learning available, The University of Western Australia (UWA) stands out for its flexible course structure, vibrant student experience and rigorous research programmes.
Another noteworthy aspect of UWA is that students’ scholarship eligibility is automatically assessed when they submit an application to the University.
Global Excellence Scholarship recipients Anushka Mukherjee and Erick Ng Xian Zheng told us what made UWA their preeminent university choice.
How did you get interested in the field that you are studying?
Erick (Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Finance): I had always been interested in the idea of running my own business someday. As I do not have any concrete ideas about the nature of this business yet, I thought it would be good for me to have a general understanding of finance and marketing which would be relevant in any field of business.
Anushka (Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Economics): I was confident about pursuing Engineering, but not Economics.
However, when I took up Economics as a subject for my IB Diploma, I found myself researching extensively for my internal assessments and participated in a few Model United Nations (UNs). I discovered that I enjoyed applying Economics theories to real-world situations individuals and governments are facing.
As for Data Science, I had never done any computer subject before, but with all the buzz around this new field, I decided to take up some online courses. I found myself intrigued by the analytical skills that Data Science can provide, exploring key economic data and turning it into actionable insights.
Why did you choose UWA as your university?
Erick: UWA is a well-known university in the world with excellent facilities located in a safe environment.
Additionally, what really caught my eye was the diploma pathway program that leads straight to the second year of my degree course. This would help me save time.
Another important factor that made UWA an excellent choice was its proximity to home in Singapore when compared to other parts of Australia.
Anushka: UWA stood out from other universities when it came to flexible choices of majors and specialisations. Not only do they offer a wide-range of options for students, they allow students to pick majors across all departments. This made it easy for me to pair up majors from the Faculty of Business (Economics) and the Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (Data Science).
Erick is really into chess and always up for a few games. He extended to all of us an open invitation to join him at the UWA Chess Association’s weekly Chess & Chill Sessions.
What is studying at UWA like?
Erick: In one word, I would say, “exciting”. I get to meet students from all parts of the world and from all walks of life. Everyone here is friendly and interested to learn about each other’s culture.
The school itself also makes it a point to encourage such student interactions. There are lots of school activities to involve yourself with – I joined a few recreational classes like Salsa and Tennis offered by UWA Sport, which I enjoyed greatly!
Anushka: At first glance, the University’s exquisite campus makes study life a little less hectic and more peaceful and serene. Coming from a highly urbanized city, UWA’s historical buildings, green outdoor spaces and adorable animals around campus has made being away from home a lot more comforting.
In terms of academia, most of my professors have had real-world experience outside of academia which is reflected in their teaching. This has expanded my interest in Economics and introduced me to subjects I didn’t think I would enjoy (I love Statistics now!). And the best part of studying at UWA is that everyone is approachable and friendly. That really helped me initially when I was shy, as most freshers usually are.
What is it like studying overseas in Perth? Did you experience homesickness, what excited you?
Erick: Studying overseas is definitely daunting as you are on your own.
Even though I did not experience homesickness, I experienced a lot of other challenges such as getting accustomed to the pace of life in Australia and the new environment. I believe that very fact that I am here, on my own, is exciting as you’ll get to learn more about yourself when you are handling more responsibilities.
Anushka: Perth has a refreshing blend of urban culture and natural wonders, which is what I love the most about it. I have been able to meet a lot of people from around the globe through classes, volunteering and UWA societies such as the International Student Department.
Nothing beats home cooked food but living away from home has taught me how to handle “adulthood”, which is fun, now that I have many tales of burnt fried rice! Luckily, for the days when I am too lazy to cook, there are a variety of Asian restaurants on-campus and off-campus that serve some great food!
What is your biggest takeaway as a student so far?
Erick: Keep up with the lectures and ask questions. The teachers are always willing to help. If you do that, you would have no issues graduating with the grades you want.
Anushka: The essential idea that I’ve learned in university so far is engagement. Whether academically, or when making new friends, or when optimising my resume in a holistic way, I try to stay engaged.
As with any new student, it was intimidating to step out of my comfort zones. But I found that with a little practice and positive affirmations, engaging with other students and teachers has allowed me to build my confidence and forge new relationships, which I think is really important when you’re away from family.
How are you looking to apply what you have learnt when you start working?
Erick: I learnt that I can work independently, creatively and consistently. These are attributes useful in whatever organisation I work in in the future.
Anushka: I am looking forward to applying my rare course combination (Economics and Data Science) in the public or financial sectors of the economy.
Equipped with the knowledge of economic theories, econometrics, statistics, and deep expertise of data science, I hope to break down complex real-world issues, assess each component of policy decisions, evaluate policy performance and help organisations with evidence-based decision making.
What advice would you give to aspiring students considering UWA?
Erick: Come here and join in the activities and clubs available, and make this place your second home. Don’t be afraid to talk to people and ask for any advice as everyone’s friendly and chill here.
Also, use all the resources available to you in UWA. I would highly suggest visiting UWA CareerHub as a starting point to get started on your resume, and to get an idea of what to expect in the working world in the future.
Anushka: One tip I would offer aspiring students considering UWA is to do thorough research. Find out what courses you might be interested in, consider what inspires you to pursue your chosen field of study, and then search for a University which can give you flexibility in choosing your subjects.
When you have the right inspiration, you’ll have all the motivation that is needed to excel academically and holistically.