Studying in Canberra: An Ultimate Combo for College Students

Chandra Kartika Devi at the graduation ceremony at Australian National University. Source: Personal documentation
Chandra Kartika Devi at the graduation ceremony at Australian National University. Source: Personal documentation

“Study location plays an important role in the journey of international students in pursuing a higher degree. In this article, Chandra Kartika Devi (a Master of Translation student at Australian National University) shared her experience why you should consider choosing the capital city of Australia as your future study location.”


Studying abroad involves the decision-making process in various matters. One of many essential things to decide is the study location. In this case, I decided on the university first before I decided on the country, as the major that I looked for was somewhat rare. I browsed university websites with Translation programs for Master’s degrees and found out that not many of them have the Indonesian-English specialization.

In the end, my choice fell to Australia National University (ANU), which is located in Canberra, the capital city of Australia. I explored the situation in Canberra beforehand. Also, I checked on some essential matters like safety, the seasons, the neighbourhoods, the facilities, and many other aspects before I decided to apply for the program. Therefore, I could decide whether I can study and live comfortably there.

ANU: A Campus with (Almost) Unlimited Supports

Australian National University campus building. Source: Personal documentation
Australian National University campus building. Source: Personal documentation

My two years’ experience studying at ANU tells me that the campus tries to provide as much supports as possible to smoothen the study process of its students. In terms of academic aspect, the university has diverse study programs available and a well-packed course arrangement. Meanwhile, in terms of the non-academic aspects, they have dedicated lectures to assist you and numerous facilities to back you up.

Academic Aspect Supports

When I first landed on the ANU website and explored their translation program, I was so impressed since they have the Indonesian-English specialization. I was also amazed that they have specializations in many other languages as well, such as Greek, Sanskrit, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and many more.

Beyond my expectation, the courses listed are varied so that students can have many options suitable for their preferred carrier path. Students can start with Basic English and Linguistic courses or dive straight into the practice translation courses. Moreover, students can jump across the border and join the courses available in other schools if they are interested in having the more profound background knowledge to perform the translation in a specialized field. The flexible combinations of courses in a study program are available to help students develop their interests.

Meanwhile, ANU attempts to arrange their courses in a way to expand the students’ knowledge optimally. For a course, a lecture and a tutorial class are held every week. Before a lecture, the lecturers share a stack of reading material in the form of books, articles, case studies, and many more. In this way, students can learn the subject matters beforehand so that they can follow the explanation and acquire a full understanding in the class.

For the tutorial, the lecturers give an assignment every week, usually in problem-solving practice. The solution for the problem discussed in the tutorial may provide rich insights for students to be applied in real practices. Therefore, they will not only stick to a single theory or ideology but also be open-minded and understand as much as theory and ideology available, even to build their own, and try to use it according to the case at hand.

Non-Academic Aspect Supports

To go through those hectic processes of completing a course, the lecturers sincerely and intensively guide the students. Regarding this, students can contact the lecturers at any time during working hours. The students can also make an appointment for consultation every time they find it difficult to understand the materials or compose their papers for assignments. I feel that my lecturers always motivated me to try my best, appreciated me, and tried to introduce me to every solution available when I faced a problem.

Australia National University campus entrance. Source: Personal documentation
Australia National University campus entrance. Source: Personal documentation

Apart from that, ANU has provided various facilities for students who are eager to study day and night. Some study spaces for the students open 24/7, like the main library and the study room in each school. Students can also use classes, labs, and other facilities with free access anytime they want. Countless references are also available in the offline or online library. Besides, they open free consultations by appointment with the academic staff to review the students’ papers and study groups to help students solve some understanding problems during the courses.

Canberra: A Quiet Capital City for A (Nearly) Perfect Focus

Denying the customary image of capital cities, which are crowded and complex, Canberra might be an example of a capital city that allows us to stay focus on our student life. They offer a reasonably quiet neighbourhood, completeness of being a capital city, and convenience to manage the peace of mind.

To help you survive as an ANU student, Canberra offers a quiet neighbourhood for you to maintain your focus. If you are a homebody and feel more comfortable studying at home, you can get a library-like vibe at home in almost all neighbourhoods across the city. It is not only because of the not-so-crowded population but also because most of the Canberra territory is still natural. The feeling of waking up by the sound of nature may let you start your day with a clear mind.

Chandra at Burley Griffin Lake. Source: Personal documentation
Chandra at Burley Griffin Lake. Source: Personal documentation

Despite the quietness, the Capital City provides numerous facilities. It has many transportation options like bus, light rail, offline and online taxi allowing you to explore every side of the city. There are public facilities, like libraries, which can also be a nice place to study. In terms of daily needs, if the local shops are not enough for you, shops offer goods and foods from various countries. Besides, you can hop on some cozy coffee shops and cafes to have a nice meal and discuss previous lectures with some friends or just chill. With so many things around, you will have fewer things to worry about and can put most of your focus on studying.

Chandra at Floriade festival, Canberra. Source: Personal documentation.
Chandra at Floriade festival, Canberra. Source: Personal documentation.

Finally, if you feel like losing track and need some peace of mind to drag your focus back, the city has many entertainments available. One thing that interests me the most is its nature. I often take some time to sit on the edge of the Burley Griffin Lake and listening to music to rest my mind. Also, my friends and I often hike the Black Mountain or just roast some barbeque in the barbeque area provided at most of the parks to give ourselves some quality time.

Many festivals are also held annually, such as Floriade, Enlighten, Skyfire, Balloon Spectacular, and many other cultural festivals. Besides, art galleries and museums may also give you another type of entertainment. If Canberra is too quiet for you, you can hop on the intercity bus or drive around 2 hours to go to Sydney and enjoy the city crowd there.

Ramadhan in Canberra: fasting in winter with new families

Ramadhan in Canberra is one of the unforgettable experiences during my study at ANU. The situation of the city was completely different. I could not hear the sound of Adzan or Takbir. I could not find people flocking to the mosque for Tarawih or Qur’an recitation. The city flowed like it always does, nothing special. I attended lectures as usual, and I should even rush to my final exam right after the Ied prayer. It was hard to feel the Ramadhan vibe. However, I can still find two things that make up my Ramadhan.

Chandra and other Indonesian students during Ramadhan at ANU. Source: Personal documentation.
Chandra and other Indonesian students during Ramadhan at ANU. Source: Personal documentation.

Firstly, nothing is better than fasting during the winter. During my stay in Canberra, the holy month was around May and June during the winter season. It was at the end of the semester when I was so busy composing papers and studying for final exams. However, as the weather was cold, I did not really feel the hunger and thirst. I could do my activities as usual.

Barbecuing with Indonesian friends in Canberra. Source: Personal documentation
Barbecuing with Indonesian friends in Canberra. Source: Personal documentation

Secondly, there are communities that can make me feel at home. My friends and I like to cook our meals together. We made any food which is usually served at our home. We also often did the prayers together. It brought the homey atmosphere which brightens up our Ramadhan. Besides, the Muslim community at ANU usually holds breakfasting and Tarawih prayer at the ANU mushola (prayer room). The Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia also often invites us for recitation and breakfasting.

Ramadhan in Canberra seems unusual. We might not get the same level of excitement as we usually get during the month of fasting. However, we can still make some ways to make our Ramadhan more meaningful than just holding back hunger.

Concluding the conversation

Becoming a student in one of the best universities in Australia, even in the world, may serve you many challenges. There will be sleepless nights to follow the study flow and worries to achieve expectations. Living far away from home will also make it harder. There will be days of homesickness and nights of loneliness. However, with those helps in hand, it may not be impossible for you to even go beyond what you have imagined. Studying abroad is a super exciting experience, after all. I hope you can experience it yourself really soon.

Editor: Yogi Saputra Mahmud


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