China, Education

Enjoying the international education experience

December 7, 2023 - 4 min read

While in high school in Shenyang, Liaoning, China, Maggie Cao decided she wanted to go to university in Australia. ‘My English teacher studied in Australia and would share stories about life in Melbourne,’ she says. ‘Her stories sparked my curiosity to explore Australia, especially Melbourne’s diverse culture.’

Maggie is enrolled in the Bachelor of Early Childhood and Primary Education at Deakin University. Looking at Australian universities, Maggie settled on Deakin. ‘The primary reason behind this decision is my fondness for interacting with children, and the joy that comes with working with them,’ she tells us. ‘Deakin leans more towards teaching practical skills and prioritises hands-on experience in the curriculum.’

Practical learning

This hands-on approach is preparing Maggie for the future. Much of her learning takes place outside of the classroom. A highlight for Maggie is that ‘teachers guide us to explore the Deakin campus, encouraging us to contemplate how to design a kindergarten classroom.’.

Maggie also appreciates learning that happens away from campus. ‘We had the opportunity to attend classes at art galleries and museums, immersing ourselves in the local culture to integrate these experiences into early childhood education.’

Students visit museums and galleries.

Maggie on the Deakin Burwood Campus

Real world experience is important to how students learn to teach. Internships, Maggie says, ‘deepen my understanding of education and management practices in kindergartens. These experiences also help cultivate my skills as an educator for different age groups.’

While still studying, Maggie has obtained a part-time job at the childcare centre where she interned. ‘This provided me with more opportunities to accumulate relevant work experience,’ she points out. ‘It also alleviated the financial pressures of studying abroad.’

Developing  English language skills

Maggie feels that Deakin ‘places significant emphasis on international education and strives to assist students in adapting to an English-taught learning environment.’

‘I faced language barriers in the pathway courses,’ she says, pointing out that he spent much of her early time in Australia among the Chinese-speaking community.

‘Don’t feel inferior about your accent. It is crucial to speak up boldly and practice more.’

With lessons and internships all being in English, Maggie had to improve her language skills. She credits ‘amiable classmates and patient teachers’ with helping her develop her English. ‘Encouragement from colleagues and teachers played a crucial role in helping me overcome my language apprehensions,’ she says. ‘I shed my fears, became comfortable speaking English, enabling me to interact with children more freely.’

Being in a new country and mastering a new language goes hand in hand with learning about different cultures. Maggie has ‘developed a deeper understanding of diverse cultures and learned to coexist harmoniously with people from around the world. The process of respecting and learning about different cultures has proved to be a surprising and fascinating aspect of my experience.’

Maggie’s advice to future Deakin students

‘I encourage every student to take that brave first step. Studying in Australia is an exciting, rewarding experience.  It isn’t just a journey of acquiring knowledge. It is an opportunity for diverse interpersonal communication.

‘Create memorable experiences while studying in Australia. Participate in university activities or join clubs to expand your social circle. Take time to explore and immerse yourself in Australia.

‘Don’t feel inferior about your accent. It is crucial to speak up boldly and practice more. The university provides abundant learning resources for international students.

‘The key is bravery. Discover the joy of life. Don’t push yourself too hard. Face foreign life with happiness.’

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^^ 2022 Student Experience Survey, UA benchmark group Victorian universities.
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