The “new normal” in Australian universities… for now

17 September 2020

What’s it like to be studying at Australian universities right now?

Hey everyone, it’s Emma!

Learn more about the Macquarie University medical program!
Me, enjoying the beautiful Macquarie University campus!

I’m sure everyone back home is curious about what we are doing, if we’re back on campus, how COVID has affected our education. And I’m sure all of you getting your offers and interviews are wondering if it’s even feasible. Of course I don’t have the answers but I thought it would be helpful if I shared a bit of my own story as a student at Macquarie University in Sydney, and some of the other OzTREKK ambassadors have jumped in to share their stories, too!

So for context, I’m a second-year medical student at Macquarie. New South Wales has had fairly low numbers for a while now, so they’ve slowly been opening things back up. Presently, we are doing a mix of online-offline learning. Earlier this year we were fully online, but they have been slowly introducing more learning back on campus as it becomes safe. What that means for the medical students is that our lectures are live via Zoom, but our small-group learning can continue in person. So far, we have been allowed in the hospitals for our bedside tutorials (with masks on, social distancing, and contact tracing), and we are learning our clinical skills in small groups as well. Honestly, it’s been really nice to be back on campus. Seeing my friends in “real life” makes me feel so much more comfortable, and it feels like we are actually learning to become doctors.

Find out more about studying OT at the University of Sydney
OzTREKK Ambassador Kim Li (Sydney OT) enjoying the beach!

Kim is in her second year of occupational therapy at University of Sydney. All her lectures and tutorials are online, but she’s also on placement, which is still going ahead full time! She’s found it feels like they’ve added more tasks to do since students can’t be marked on in-person discussion and that makes it a bit difficult to juggle all the deadlines and modules. All that being said, she knows the program is doing the best they can and it means that there was no pause to her education—which in a two-year program is really important! If you have more questions you can find her @kberli on Instagram.

Brittani is in her first year of dentistry at Griffith University (in Queensland). They have recently started back face-to-face in labs, which is key for dent! This has helped her feel much more engaged and involved being with her peers and professors. (Honestly, Brittani, same!). Before that, all learning was online and she found it really difficult to stay motivated and feel engaged. As a result, it was hard to learn some topics—especially anatomy—without the hands-on or in-person experience. You can find her @brittani_rjmk.

Learn more about studying dentistry at Griffith University
Brittani and her new friend

I really related to Britanni’s experience and I’m glad her university is also bringing some small things back in person just to help students feel engaged and less isolated.

Of course, this is just a snapshot of a couple universities and a couple of students’ experiences, but I hope it helps shed some light on how things are going for us down here! For the most part it seems we’re in mixed modes as some pieces are online and some are in person (which I think most of us agree is a good thing!).

If you have any questions about the MQ experience feel free to track me down: @EmmaB_MD on Insta!


Do have any questions about our OzTREKK Student Ambassadors? Think you might like to become an ambassador? Need more info from them? Please reach out to us at for more info!

NewsOzTREKK Ambassadors