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My Experience: Online to On-campus

It has been more than two years since students, teachers, and universities adapted to online learning.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic meant that even at the beginning of 2021, the entire academic community dreaded that life on campus was now a distant memory. I felt no different.

But as my dad would say: - “Life does not stop and you keep moving forward, making the best out of what comes your way.”

So, began my life as an “offshore international student” during the height of the pandemic. That raised alarm bells for most international students. I still recall people doubting my decision to start my post-graduation journey here at Swinburne, whilst being in my city of Pune, India.

Paying the dollar figure for admission into the university did make me uncomfortable. Like many other students, I had questions about online learning.

Signing into zoom calls to meet other students or tuning into online lectures at odd times from their bedroom are not the things one actively seeks when they enrol themselves for any educational experience.

Yet here I am now a year later, living the “new normal.” reflecting on my online journey at Swinburne, as I write this blog seated at one of the cafés here on campus.

My experience, both online and now on the Swinburne campus, has been mostly positive.

Having come from an educational background that was not related to media and comms, it felt intimidating to dive into a new field of study and work, let alone figure everything out whilst being online.

I missed a year of experiencing Melbourne and everything it had to offer.

Studying remotely in contrasting times had its own constraints. I had concerns about how I would socialize and network with my classmates. The diversity of the time zones often meant that I would have better luck with roulette than scheduling group meetings with my fellow offshore students.

I also had doubts about whether I would be able to cope with the academic pressures of a post-graduate degree.

But, at a time when the world around me was going online and I felt clueless and disconnected from my educational ambitions, I received empathy, professional guidance, support, and a feeling of belonging from the university, and more importantly its hardworking staff.

The support and encouragement I have received from Swinburne’s academic staff have been nothing less than amazing. Some units proved to be more difficult than others, while others did require me to be on campus.

But all in all, the assessments, feedback, and coursework all felt like it was building up to something. Too often universities and academic communities get criticized for being “not industry-oriented.” However, teachers here would pull heavily from their own realm of professional experiences, blending and making it suitable for an academic environment.

The modules and assessments, on-campus and to my surprise even online, were something that I could attach to my professional portfolio or resume. The group assessments felt like on-site project work conducted in a professional environment.

While doing a term online, I distinctly remember that even my parents and senior colleagues at work found the coursework and assessment expectations to be relatively similar to the industry/professional workspace.

Through this mixed experience, I have come to the realization that the time one spends at university, irrespective of whether it is online or on-campus, is determined by one’s own personal drive and onus taken upon themselves to do good work.

Your ability to do good work and stand out is not hampered just because of border closures due to an unprecedented pandemic that has rocked the world. Does it make it considerably difficult and inconvenient? Yes, absolutely.

But again, going back to what my dad would say, “Life does not stop, and you keep moving forward, making the best out of what comes your way.”

-Vedant Bhusari

You can follow Vedant on LinkedIn here.

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