Stefania Bocchi

Stefania Bocchi

Course completed in Australia: Masters of International Social Development
Institution: University of New South Wales (UNSW)
Current position: Administrative and Personal Assistant, University of Oxford, UK

Time spent as an exchange student in Sydney convinced Stefania Bocchi to return to Australia to undertake a specialised Masters degree.

“I spent a semester as an exchange student at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) as part of my postgraduate degree in Bologna,” she explains.

“I enjoyed the different teaching and learning style and the fact that courses had a more practical approach in Australia (including written projects, research and group work). It was a very positive experience which increased my interest in pursuing a full degree in Australia. I also know many Australian institutions have an excellent international reputation, which is also what I was looking for.”

Stefania moved back to Sydney, this time to the University of New South Wales (UNSW,) to undertake a Masters in International Social Development.

“I knew it would be rewarding,” she says. “It was a dynamic, hands-on learning environment. I expected to extend my knowledge and to improve my English and I did. Plus I obtained a very good background in international development, improved my public speaking skills and learned to write in an academic fashion.”

“I liked the smaller classes and the breakdown into even smaller tutorials, which makes it easier to participate,” she says. “In Italy you might have up to 200 people in a class. What I also found interesting was the more personal relationships with professors and tutors. They are always available to talk to you.”

It was also a very international environment, especially in my degree, so I had exposure to new perspectives from all over the world.”

On completion of her degree, Stefania was offered a position as a casual tutor at UNSW for two undergraduate courses in Development Studies. Ultimately she decided that teaching was not the career path for her, but she admits that the experience was both personally and professionally enriching as she had “some very good classes and students”. It is, she believes, an opportunity that may not have been open to her in Italy.

Stefania is now an Administrative and Personal Assistant in the Structural Genomics Consortium, a not-for-profit organisation that supports the discovery of new medicines through open access research at the University of Oxford. While she acknowledges that her current job is not related to her previous studies, she points out that given she is based at a university, her familiarity with academic research is useful.

“The network I developed in Australia was certainly helpful in securing the position I have now,” she says. “All my referees were people I met in Australia! I made some really long-lasting friendships.”

She also developed a love of nature. “It was easy to take a bus or ferry, travel no more than an hour from the centre of town and find myself in a remote beach or hiking in the bush, feeling like I was miles and miles away from civilisation,” she says. “Together with the great weather for most of the year, this made me much more of an outdoors person than I used to be.”

“I loved the fact that I could enjoy nature and amazing landscapes even while living in a big city. I was able to enjoy all the perks of the city (restaurants, bars, pubs, live music, cultural events) as well as quiet time in nature.”

It’s a lifestyle that she recommends wholeheartedly. “Do it if you can,” she says. “It is an invaluable experience. Australian universities are highly renowned international institutions that give you a chance to improve your academic background, to learn in a multicultural environment and to make long-lasting professional connections and friendships.”

If you are proactive and show interest in what you do and what you are learning, your possibilities are endless.