Cook, talk, learn: keys to building educational exchange

Learning how to cook and accepting feedback are important skills needed to thrive while studying in Australia, according to two Indonesian postgraduate students Christian Aditya and Dominika Anggraeni, who studied for their Master of Animation at UTS.

"If I was to give one piece of advice to international students, it is to be open-minded at all times," Ms Anggraeni said.

"During my undergraduate degree in Indonesia everyone seemed shy to show their work, but at UTS we have to learn how to accept feedback and use it to develop our work," Ms Anggraeni said.

UTS Insearch, the pathway to UTS, provided two postgraduate scholarships to graduates from the Indonesian university Universitas Multimedia Nusantara (UMN) in Banten to continue their education.

Mr Aditya and Ms Anggraeni were both recipients of UTS Insearch UMN Partnership Scholarships, and upon completion of their studies they took teaching positions at UMN.

Mr Aditya's experience was enhanced by some feedback provided by his fellow Master of Animation classmates after he produced a short animation about a child beggar for an assignment. "The response from my classmates was interesting; they didn't really understand it as they didn't realise the animation was about a child beggar as it's something you don't see in Australia," he said.

"So because of that educational experience, all my projects are now made to be globally relevant, and I aim to make them easy to understand no matter the cultural differences."

Mr Aditya said his classmates and the diversity of the student population are some of the best aspects of studying at UTS. "We get to taste a little bit of everyone's culture and different backgrounds. It's extremely interesting and something we can't do as easily in Indonesia, as we don't have as many different nationalities at university together.

"The UTS design labs that are open 24 hours are also really helpful. They have powerful computers and a variety of animation software. The set-up is perfect for people who work in our field, especially as we usually work late into the night."

One of the biggest hurdles Ms Anggraeni had to overcome was adapting to Australia's culinary scene by learning how to cook. "At first I tried to survive by only eating sandwiches every day, as I had never cooked at all," Ms Anggraeni recalled.

Learning to cook is also essential for making living allowances go further, as Indonesian ingredients and sauces, such as spicy Sambal, are readily available in local supermarkets, meaning cooking tasty meals is a fraction of the cost of eating out.

"Once I started to learn how to cook – my first dish was steak, followed by pasta – I discovered it's so easy," Ms Anggraeni said. Mr Aditya agreed the food here is good, particularly steak, which is very expensive in Indonesia.

One of the highlights of studying in Australia for Mr Aditya is the natural environment and leisure activities he's enjoyed, including a visit a national park in Morisset, just outside of Sydney. 

"I had never touched a wallaby or kangaroo before, so hand feeding them was a real highlight," he said. "My photos with kangaroos on Facebook are really popular with my UMN colleagues; they all 'like' and comment on the pictures saying they want to study in Australia too.

The UTS Insearch UMN Partnership Scholarships covered the course fees of a master's program at the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at UTS, while UMN contributed to the living costs of the postgraduate students during their time in Australia.

Chief Business Development Officer of UTS Insearch, Mr Peter Harris, said the scholarships and exchange helped Indonesian postgraduates further their skills and industry knowledge, while introducing them to Australia and building relationships between academics in the two countries.