When asked what his life is like now he’s finished the Bachelor of Arts component of his double degree, Derek Bayley says, “Every day I wake up and have to face the drudgery of my other degree.”
It’s not that his Bachelor of Laws is that bad, he says, it’s more that his arts degree was an unbeatable experience. Derek majored in German and Arabic, and travelled to both Germany and the United Arab Emirates as part of his studies.
“I knew I wanted to do German, because I did that at school, but the Arabic was a complete stab in the dark,” he says. “I had heard about the quality of the Arabic language program at ANU, and wanted to do something out of my comfort zone. It’s one of these things where I was tossing up whether to do it at the time, but looking back, I’m so certain now it was the right decision.”
Derek spent two months at the University of Freiburg, and two months at Zayed University in Dubai for an intensive language course. He also completed an internship with the Dubai International Finance Centre Courts, which he says was “such a great way to fuse law and my love of Arabic into a practical application of both of those things.”
During his Arabic course in Dubai, Derek and his fellow students stayed together in a “swanky” business hotel, complete with swimming pool and squash court, and would spend their weekends traveling the region.
“Because Dubai is such a hub, on weekends we’d say, ‘How about a trip to Muscat in Oman!’ We did a few of those hour-long trips to completely different countries.”
His study overseas was filled with memorable moments, he says, but one particular standout was when a Saudi Arabian man he met while shopping in a marketplace in Qatar spontaneously bought him a $150 perfume because he was so impressed by Derek’s Arabic.
“He said to me, ‘Language learning is its own reward, but every now and again you need something a bit more tangible to help you along the way,’” Derek remembers. “I left that situation thinking, ‘Did that just happen?’”
But Derek says he didn’t choose to go on exchange just for the travel opportunities.
“The travel is awesome, but for me, exchange was a secondary sweetener to what I already knew would be a good idea for me professionally. I always knew that speaking languages would diversify whatever pursuit I wanted to undertake and set me apart from other people. I think employers are looking for applicants who have something a bit different or unique to offer.”
Derek has since graduated from the university.