I have just got back to my room, after an exhausting, but very educational day at University of Sydney.
The first thing on the agenda was breakfast hosted by the Centre for English Teaching. The breakfast was probably really nice, I'm not really sure, because I spent the whole time talking to staff members and other agents, and had to hastily grab an apple pastry (yummy) on the way out. English language programs are not the most popular amongst our students, because most Danes are very comfortable with the English language by the time they want to appy for a University degree or a Study Abroad program. However, I did find out, that the Centre for English teaching offers free 4-week English programs for international students before they begin their Study Abroad or whole degree, so that's a great opportunity to get into English mode. Also, they offer customised programs for groups of people (high schools or uni classes) who want to come to USYD for a period of time to improve their English combined with other subjects. This program can be a really good way of improving your English vocabulary in your chosen field, as it can be tailored to your study area. Amazing!
After the CET (Centre for English Learning), we all walked to Newtown, which is a popular bohemian area with shops and cafes. We visited the Dalington Centre, where most of today's seminars took place. We were told about all new buildings and infrastructure at the University, new project and future plans. We also learned about the strategy for internation reputation of Uni of Sydney, which was really interesting!!! I love that the University focuses so much on international students and actively makes an effort to attract people from all over the world.
The session on USYD's new online application system was great - we ere taken through the entire application process, and, although this way of submitting applications will require more time than our current routines, the system seems thorough and well-structured. I look forward to trying it out when it is opened oficially to all agents in a few weeks. Basically, instead of sending paper-based applications to the University, agents will now receive paper applications from student and upload all information to this new system. The system works as a communication channel as well, so agents will always be able to check a student's application status through the system.
Lunch was hosted by Sydney Nursing School. Nursing and medicine are tough areas to study abroad, because the Danish system is different than that of Australia. For Study Abroad students, it is difficult to find the courses that will fit their Danish schedule. For full degrees, students may have to take additional supplementary courses on return to Denmark after completing a degree abroad, to match the Danish standard requirements. Sweden has the same issues. It will be interesting to look into how exactly the Danish and Australian programs differ from each other to see if there is something that can be done to make it easier for international students to study medicine abroad and get full credit for it in Denmark.
Next on the agenda was a tour of the international office, where we were shown how staff process applications at USYD. It was really neat to see what they look at when processing applications, which I'm sure will make it easier for me to identify the important factors in applications.
After the workshop, we were taken by bus to the Sydney College of Arts, which is ,ocated around 25 minutes by bus away from the main campus. The SCA (Sydney College of Arts) campus is amazing. It's a bit isolated, lots of green areas surrounding the school buildings, the building look beautiful and old from the outside and retro on the inside. Very art-sy. Paintings on the walls, graffiti on bins and lockers. The whole building is a maze of corridors, rooms, passages, doors and staircases. I immediately lost track of where we were, and even the staff had to debate amongst each other which way to go to get to the next department. We were told at the end of the tour, that the place used to be a mental institution, and later was turned into the SCA, because the City of Sydney didn't know what else to do with the historic buildings. What a history. On top of that, the building is haunted! What an amazing place to do your art degree!!!
After returning to the hotel, most of us were knackered. After a bit of rest, some of us met up and went out for drinks to celebrate one of the USYD staff member's birthday. He's one of the organizers of this agent workshop and had been up since 4.45am. On his birthday. Poor thing! Definitely deserved a few drinks. We went to this New Zealand pub a blocki and a half from the hotel, had some drinks, learned some tae-kwon-do moves and pain pressure points from a japanese tennis and pingpong champion (random), discussed sports - there's no such thing as soccer, and football is by far the most entertaining sport in the world - shared our different countries' alcohol traditions knowledge and ended the evening as the bartenders were closing up the pub.