Studying overseas is like any other form of travel: it broadens your horizons.
For Maria Camila Mejia Velez and Juan Diego Martinez Marin, who came to La Trobe University from Colombia, that’s definitely true.
Maria and Juan are both studying a Master of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and, as they explain, it’s not just their course that’s given them a new view on the world.
All sorts of learning
More than anything, Juan and Maria say it’s the classroom experience that’s given them the opportunity to understand new perspectives as they study with students from Australia and around the world.
‘What I’ve enjoyed the most is the possibility to compare and contrast perspectives on English language teaching and learning with professors, lecturers and classmates. This has opened, in me, a new view of the world and the word,’ says Juan.
And Maria agrees, adding that classroom discussions aren’t just about understanding the course content, but also about adapting her entire way of thinking.
‘I love the opportunity to build my knowledge and enhance my critical thinking by discussing and expressing my ideas with classmates and professors from diverse backgrounds,’ she says.
‘I do believe it’s very valuable nowadays to expand our cultural perspectives, so we can enhance our critical thinking.’
For both Juan and Maria, volunteering as part of the La Trobe Host Program was another valuable opportunity to expand their thinking.
By supporting international students as they settle in at La Trobe, our volunteer Hosts make those first few weeks a little friendlier. But the Hosts themselves also get the chance to make new friends, build cross-cultural communication skills and access professional development training.
For Juan, this meant the Host Program was another great chance to become a more well-rounded thinker.
‘In the volunteer program, I had the chance to meet many people from different parts of the world who have shown me the way they see and interact with the world, which improved my critical, social and cultural thinking,’ Juan says of his time in the program.
The Host Program is also a great opportunity for students who would otherwise be focusing on their own disciplines, as Maria explains: ‘I enjoyed the cultural and interdisciplinary exchange opportunity I had by interacting with new and current international students – and I got to learn more about La Trobe and its services.’
Making the decision
Both Maria and Juan plan on furthering their studies by undertaking PhDs. So when they were choosing a university for their Master’s degree, they wanted to find somewhere with a reputation for academic quality.
After studying here for several semesters, they say La Trobe’s delivered on its reputation – not just for its academic standards, but also for its student support and helpful resources.
According to Maria, ‘I chose La Trobe because I was looking for a well-ranked university which offered not only academic quality, but also diverse learning and personal opportunities.
‘La Trobe doesn’t just provide me with high-quality classes and professors who are always helping me to overcome my difficulties – it also promotes career events, volunteer positions and workshops that help me develop the variety of knowledge and skills I need as a professional.’
And for Juan?
‘The academic quality of its professors and lecturers, the professionalism of its employees, the quality of its facilities and its variety of support resources all set La Trobe apart from other universities,’ he says.
‘The uni offers a variety of human and social resources to guide, support and help students no matter what the problem is.’
Feeling inspired? Find even more reasons to study education and teaching at La Trobe.