Daniela Bandelli

Daniela Bandelli

Course completed in Australia: Master of Communication for Social Change
Institution: University of Queensland (UQ), Centre for Communication and Social Change
Current position: PhD Candidate at UQ, School of Communication and Arts

Daniela Bandelli believes that studying in Australia is a major career booster. “Australian universities are highly ranked,” she says, “with high quality facilities and unique programs. If I did a PhD in Italy, I wouldn’t have the same career opportunities.”

Daniela initially completed a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations at the University of Udine and a Master of Arts in International Development at Rome’s Sapienza University before setting out to find a specialist degree in social change in an English-speaking country.

The University of Queensland’s (UQ) Master of Communication for Social Change, which explores how communication can be used to bring about community development, change attitudes and sensitise public opinion, sparked her interest because of its strong journalistic media component. An Endeavour Postgraduate Award, a scholarship from the Australian Government, made up her mind.

The Queensland sunshine was another draw card. “I was favouring sunny countries,” she confesses.

But despite Brisbane’s endless blue skies, day to day living in a new country had its ups and downs. “Everything is completely different,” she says. “At the beginning you feel tired at the end of every day. Here you are completely alone. That is the intrinsic status of international students,” she admits. “It is different and psychologically challenging. You have to make an effort to build a network of friends.”

These challenges, however, did not deter her from taking on a PhD in Australia. When she was unable to secure a job in her chosen field in Italy, one of her UQ advisors suggested she apply to continue her research back in Brisbane.

Her PhD, a critical analysis of the gender discourse in Italy, now sees her dividing her time between Australia and Italy.

The meritocracy she experienced at UQ was a significant incentive for her return to study. “The peer culture is very different,” she says.

In Australia, she says, her professors treat her as a peer. “I work with internationally renowned lecturers,” she says. “Here you are evaluated on your capacity to do a project. You are more focused on a topic you have chosen, not what the school or the professor decides. I am completely free and entitled to drive my project.”

“You are considered a resource for the university, a valuable resource,” she says. The time spent in Australia with her peers, along with new found friends, has boosted her self-confidence and taught her the art of being flexible.

While she admits that it’s normal to feel lonely being so far from home, she contends that you have to make the most of it. “Focus on the fact that you are having a rare learning opportunity and you are probably studying in one of the best universities internationally,” she advises.

“Spend some time to explore remote areas of this beautiful continent and don’t miss the opportunity to get familiar with the uniqueness of indigenous culture.”

Take it from one who knows. Daniela and her father undertook a 40-day tour of Australia during a term break. They travelled from Brisbane to Darwin, trekking through various national parks, on to Alice Springs and the desert, before hopping on a plane to Perth. From Perth they drove a 4 Wheel Drive 1100km north along the Western Australian coast to Coral Bay (her favourite route) and then drove back down to Albany in the southwest corner of the state. Back in Perth, they boarded a train to Adelaide, and from Adelaide drove 1400km to Sydney.

When asked what she remembers most about the journey, she singles out the colours. “I didn’t use a filter on my camera but the colours - the pink of the sunset, the blues and reds of the desert - are just so naturally vibrant. It’s all so different.”