If I had to name one thing that attracted me to The ANU, it’s the breadth and flexibility of the courses on offer. When I was first faced with the choice of what degree to study at university, I honestly wasn’t sure of what would interest me. As a compromise, I chose two degrees that enabled me to study a broad range of subjects, and I haven’t looked back since.
In my Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) degree, I’m constantly surprised by just how much there is to be gained by taking an integrative view of the world around us. I often hear academics say that many of the best researchers suffer from an inability to bring their expertise to bear on real world problems. The PPE degree tackles this head on, by encouraging you to expand your expertise in a range of disciplines and to transfer ideas from one area to another. Studying PPE has taught me that the most interesting questions facing our society today – from increasing inequality, to declining faith in democratic institutions – require us to draw on a range of different perspectives and approaches.
Alongside PPE, I’ve also enjoyed immersing myself in the study of two very different languages: French and Chinese. In particular, within the Bachelor of Arts, my Chinese Language Major has presented me with a unique set of challenges. Learning a language that is so radically different from English means rethinking how you approach the study of language altogether. Not only has the study of languages given me a renewed respect for the beauty of cultures other than my own, I think it has helped me grow as a student.
For me, this academic experience has been enriched by my experiences living on ANU campus at Bruce Hall. Funnily enough, when I first left home to live on campus in a residential hall, my parents were worried that my academic grades would suffer. In reality, I don’t know that I would have made it through many of my courses without the support of many of my neighbours. I can’t count the number of times I’ve refined an essay plan over dinner with a fellow scholar, or sat down with a friend who is fluent in Chinese to practice a dialogue before my exams.
Living on campus has also expanded my horizons in ways I couldn’t have envisaged when I started. I think my dad summed it up best, after he visited ANU for open day: at some universities, people ask which suburb you’re from; at ANU, we just ask where you’re from. Coming from a school where most of my friends lived in the same postcode, I’ve now made friends from all over Australia and the world, each of whom has their own unique set of experiences. Over time, this has given me a keen interest in student wellbeing, especially in residential halls. Through a range of student leadership roles, I’ve been lucky enough to hear the stories of many of my fellow residents and help work towards a more inclusive and diverse community on campus. The passion and community spirit displayed by students across The ANU never ceases to amaze and inspire me.
In my time out from university and residential life, I often like to go for a run through The ANU campus and surrounds. I feel so fortunate having the vast expanse of Black Mountain to explore right on my doorstep, and the native greenery of campus to enjoy all year round. I’ve also recently started taking some time off my university work to write for pleasure. By writing on something I’m passionate about every now and then, I get a chance to talk in depth about some of the fascinating topics that I only get to touch on in my academic studies.
While it’s always hard to know where my degree will take me, I’m currently excited by the idea of going on to contribute to social and economic policy development in Australia. In fact, I’ve been lucky enough to receive a placement this semester as a parliamentary intern with the Australian National Internship Program, which should be a great introduction to the policymaking world.