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Jatinder Mann - UK

Course: PhD - History
Institution: University of Sydney
Location: Sydney, New South Wales

Jatinder Mann says that the “three-and-a-half years in Australia were the best of my life so far”.

A long-standing interest in Australian history drew Kings College London graduate Jatinder Mann to undertake a PhD comparing the rise of multiculturalism in Australia and Canada at the University of Sydney.

“The doctoral research that I carried out in Australia has very much influenced my subsequent work and publications, which have led ultimately to my achieving my current position of Postdoctoral Research Fellow, King’s College London and Associate Fellow in Canadian Studies, UCL Institute of the Americas, UK.”

Dr Mann readily acknowledges the difficulty of moving to the other side of the world. It was the first time he had lived away from home for such a long period, and arriving in an Australia winter, he acutely felt the distance. “It takes a day of your life to get there and you can’t go home on the spur of the moment,” he says.

“In some ways Australia is similar to the UK – place names, the media – but in other ways it is refreshingly different. It’s a bit of a cliché but people are laid-back and friendly. They have a better work/life balance.”

He describes the academic supervision from Professor Neville Meaney and Associate Professor James Curran as excellent, but adds that just as important was the support and encouragement shown by both academics.

“Neville was so welcoming,” he says. “I didn’t know anybody in Sydney and he immediately introduced me to other students, some of whom became my best friends. I call them my ‘Australian family’ as they were in every sense my substitute family.

“I had a moment where I thought I could either stay in the apartment by myself or get out and meet people,” he says.He went out. “I had so many coffees, so many lunches and dinner parties. It gave me a lot of confidence. It was a life building experience.”

A proud ‘Trekkie’, Dr Mann says one of his best memories of Australia happened after watching a string of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes with his best friend Tobias on his farm on New South Wales’s south coast. “He called me outside,” he explains. “I went out and looked up at the sky. It has got to be one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. I do not think I have ever seen the stars so bright. They were so close you felt like you could touch them. It was an especially appropriate vista considering we had just finished watching some sci-fi!”

For Dr Mann his friend Tobias epitomises all that is good in the country and people, characterising him as “kind, welcoming, generous to a fault and very opinionated!” Frankness is a trait much appreciated by the historian.

“Reading about Australia is one thing,” he explains, “experiencing it is another.”

Last updated: Wednesday, 3 February 2016 9:11:54 AM

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