Why Melbourne? Staff Interview

API offers programs in Melbourne, Australia through a partnership with La Trobe University. We recently had the opportunity to interview LaTrobe Abroad’s Senior Coordinator Harshini Egorov about all things Australia, Melbourne and La Trobe! 

Mrs. Harshini Egorov Senior Coordinator - La Trobe Abroad

Mrs. Harshini Egorov
Senior Coordinator – La Trobe Abroad

Melbourne is constantly in the news (and rightly so!) as one of the world’s top cities (for business, for expats, for students, for food, for sport)… what is it about your city that has made it into such a world-class destination?

Melbourne is a melting pot of culture and diversity and Melbournians are very helpful & friendly. The lifestyle in Melbourne is something you will fall in love with instantly. Australians love the outdoors and Melbourne has many ways to explore the nature and what the country has to offer. Melbourne has been voted as the world’s most liveable city 4 times over the last 5-6 years.

It’s a place you can feel at home and safe. I came to Melbourne as an international student a few years ago, fell in love with the city and decided to call it home. Another plus for us is that Melbourne is also ranked as the second top destination for study abroad by QS Best Student Cities: http://www.topuniversities.com/blog/15-best-places-study-abroad-2015

What about Melbourne (sights, restaurants, etc) are you most excited to share with newcomers?

The quality of food is certainly distinctive. Melbourne is particularly well known for its fabulous cafes, particularly the coffee. Even the smallest of cafés will brew up an exceptional cup of coffee. The food is no exception to this. You will find any type of world’s cuisines at its best, thanks to the diverse communities which have brought these splendours to Melbourne.

Apart from all the great food, Melbourne is also internationally renowned as the best city in Australia for a lot of other things such as sports, fashion, culture & entertainment to name a few. We have some great sporting events and festivals such as the Melbourne cup – the race that stops the nation, the Australian Open, Grand prix, and of course the Aussie rules football season!

What is your favourite place in Melbourne? Why?

It’s hard to highlight one single place; each spot has its own charm. The Wilsons Promontory, Great Ocean road, The Grampians and Halls Gap are only some of the main attractions. Wildlife and nature is a big part of what Australia has to offer.

Spending time outdoors sightseeing, camping, hiking are great ways to get away from the hustle & bustle from the city and it takes only a couple of hours to find that type of experience. I was never one who liked camping, but living in Australia has certainly changed that. It’s a great inexpensive and safe way to enjoy the beauty of this country.

La Trobe has arguably one of the most attractive campuses in Australia, thanks to over 600 acres of parkland and protected natural areas. Why is this important to the university experience?

I can comment on this as part of my own experience, as a student who came in to complete my postgraduate studies here at La Trobe. The main thing that attracted me to the campus is the landscape. They made me inquire after seeing photos! La Trobe is considered the largest campus in Australia and has its own wildlife sanctuary and has an abundance of bird life on and off campus.

The campus is located in an area not far from the city yet a student can focus on their studies without the distractions that a city location brings. On a sunny day you don’t have to stay indoors to study, there are plenty of beautiful gardens and greenery where a student can enjoy the outdoors whilst studying or relaxing. And having WIFI all over the campus helps to even do your assignments whilst basking in some sun.  

Describe the ideal La Trobe study abroad student…

It’s hard to stereotype, particularly with La Trobe being such an inclusive institution. La Trobe was set up on an equity platform and we portray that in every aspect of the University – so we welcome and embrace all kinds. But it certainly helps if the students are open to a range of experiences and happy to consider all possibilities. A study abroad semester can certainly be life changing experience. It’s great if they are able to embrace and make the most of it.

What courses set La Trobe apart from other Australian universities in the eyes of your study abroad students?

La Trobe offers a range of degree programs under 2 main colleges. In the Arts, Social Sciences & commerce college covers a range of Business & Law programs, Humanities and social sciences and Education programs. La Trobe Law programs are highly sought after amongst Australian and international students. The top humanities programs are International Relations & Development, Journalism, Media & Communications, History & archaeology. La Trobe is also known for its extensive European and Asian language majors available.

In the Science, Health & Engineering College, some of our key programs are in the Allied health area. We have a very strong presence in Australia with the allied health study areas and are highly sought after programs in Australian and internationally. Life sciences is also key area which have had a major improvements and advancements in the recent years – particularly in relation to the achievements we have had in the research space as well.

LTU offers a holistic approach to academic studies with a huge range of study areas. Each area has its own strengths. A range means a variety of subjects which are available for Study abroad students to choose from. We also allow students to select subjects from other discipline areas, so that student are not limited to their home Uni Discipline only. This flexibility has always been very attractive to study abroad students.

Students are increasingly looking to enhance their study abroad experience with service-learning, volunteer, and internship opportunities abroad. Describe what options are available to the study abroad student at La Trobe…

La Trobe offers various opportunities for volunteering for international students. Some of the initiatives include working with the local community as well as the Melbourne city municipality.
We also have a wild life sanctuary where students can volunteer. : http://www.latrobe.edu.au/wildlife/get-involved/volunteering

Some Internship based subjects are also available for students who major in Communications & Marketing.

Describe La Trobe’s commitment to Aboriginal studies and culture… how can a study abroad student learn more about this part of the country’s history at La Trobe?

La Trobe is very dedicated to giving all students who come to us at least a minimum amount of understanding about the first Australians, their history & culture. All students must take a compulsory introductory module called Wominjeka, which means welcome in the native language. It is not for credit but is a compulsory part of the first semester with us.

In addition, students can take Discover Australia as a ‘for credit’ subject which covers all of Australian history in a detail. This is a very popular subject amongst most of our study abroad students. There are other Aboriginal history offerings which students can take as well if they want to study the topic further.

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Edge of the Outback Program Participant, Tomas’ photo of the night sky!

Tell us about the Edge of the Outback photography program? What was the impetus for its creation?

Edge of the outback is a short 3 week photography program which takes the students on a photographic study/ journey to the Australian outback. At the end of the program they will have their own Exhibition and even get to sell their work.

It first stared with a group of students from the US who showed interest in a photography program, and since it started it’s been well sought after.

How do students from the U.S. seem to adjust to flip-flopped seasons?

Pretty well actually. At first it takes a while to adjust to the changed time zones and seasons. But most seem to like the warmer weather. The winters here don’t get in to the minus range. We are lucky to be blessed with sunshine – most of the time. Once they get into their studies and start making friends and having fun there’s not a lot of time to think about this anyway.

What surprises U.S. study abroad students most when they arrive on campus? What do most say they didn’t expect?

The sheer size of the campus is always surprise for any students who come to study with us. Most student also aren’t aware that we have a wildlife sanctuary – so that is always a pleasant surprise. The Cockatoo (or‘cockies’ as we call them) and other bird life on campus tend to throw a few surprises.

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The overall state of the art University facilities are often something students never expected before they arrive – especially the research and library (24 hour) facilities tend to be a surprises for students as well.

What do you hope students take away from their study abroad experience at LaTrobe and in Melbourne?

Independence. Students often comment how much they have grown as a person since arriving on campus and it’s great to see positive changes during their time with us. Given how culturally diverse Melbourne and La Trobe is, we also see how much more culturally aware students become and how well they fit in with other communities.

Above all we do want students take back great memories of their time at La Trobe Uni, Melbourne and Australia. We do also get some that would like to look at ways of staying in Melbourne. And some students actually do come back for further study or to live on a work holiday visa. Once the Melbourne bug hits them, there is no turning back.. After all it is an awesome place to be!

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