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Practically local: The benefits of overseas study

Beatrice Smith

From the Canberra classroom to the jungles of Thailand and the bustling metropolis of Beijing, Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) students will be honing their craft all across the world in 2016.

It’s a given that overseas study broadens the mind, creates new opportunities for self-improvement and allows future employers to see the flexible, self-directed side of your professional personality. However, for students working towards a job in a physical industry such as horticulture, hairdressing, veterinary nursing, culinary studies, visual arts, tourism or hospitality, exposure to a global industry can be the point of difference that elevates both their skill set and employability.

“I travelled overseas from early September until late September in 2015,” says Alexandra Gould, who is studying veterinary nursing at CIT. “During this period we spent the majority of our time in various locations in Chiang Mai, Thailand.”

“This trip was an incredible opportunity that really made my CIT journey a positive and educational experience. I developed close relationships with my fellow travelling students and teachers and I experienced a whole new culture and many different [veterinary] nursing techniques, which I believe have helped me with my classes and development as a studying [vet] nurse.”

Visual arts student, author and illustrator Leanne Pope studied abroad in Beijing, China and said that the experience helped both her artistic and professional careers develop.

“China took [my art practice] to a whole new level for me. I went to the Beijing Fashion Technology Institute to see how the [Chinese] students learned. We had a language barrier and used translators but it was really great to see that we could build a bridge through communication and artwork,” explains Leanne.

Leanne says her visit to China was filled with unique experiences that benefitted her creative output.

“Usually in Canberra I draw on [Mt Ainslie] but in a city you don’t have that so I pushed myself to the limits by drawing on the street, which made me interact with the community – people would come and take photos of me and ask me if they could have the pictures.”

“The last part of the trip was the best for me though – I went to a primary school in Beijing and we taught children how to draw. We taught lessons and it took my art to another level,” says Leanne.

Alexandra agrees that her study in Thailand allowed her experience a unique culture that couldn’t be replicated in the classroom.

“I am currently very close to completing my Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing, meaning that I will be a qualified vet nurse half way through 2016. Basically the whole trip was made up of new experiences that could not be gained from being in Canberra,” says Alexandra.

Alexandra’s overseas study meant that her veterinary nursing skills were tested in a real world environment – in the context of a developing nation, no less, caring for animals that couldn’t be found in Canberra such as “working up and close with the elephants at Elephant Nature Park (ENP) in Chiang Mai.”

“This involved helping in positive reinforcement training, cleaning of wounds, which utilised our vet nursing skills, and finally creating different nutritional diets depending on their needs,” explains Alexandra.

As well as gaining experience with exotic animals, Alexandra’s course also encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone and take on tasks she wouldn’t encounter in a Canberra classroom.

“We worked closely with children from a small village and helped to educate them in English. We also helped out at the dog shelter at ENP, which contains over 400 dogs. This experience was challenging as there is limited resources and many dogs that need attending to.”

In 2016, CIT is offering 96 funded placements to their students across many faculties and many countries including Vietnam, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, China and Cambodia.

These opportunities include 10 placements for creative industries and Indigenous arts students in Indonesia where students develop a body of work incorporating local cultural art practice in partnership with the Yogyakarta Institute of Arts, 10 placements in Dubai where Advanced Diploma of International Hotel and Resort Management students will explore and learn at some of the world’s leading hotels and resorts and 10 placements for Horticulture students that will focus on leading edge sustainability and waste management practices in partnership with Lincoln University, Christchurch.

All of these placements – funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training’s VET Outbound Mobility program – will allow students to gain globally marketable skills and prove their ability to adapt to a new culture and client.

To read more about students like Alexandra’s overseas study journeys, click here. To find out more about CIT’s study abroad opportunities for 2016, click here.

Feature image of ‘elephant mother and baby‘ via Shutterstock


Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Online Editor involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise, you’ll find her at the movies or ordering a cheese board. More about the Author

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