Why a Canadian student chose to study speech pathology at UQ
OzTREKK student Alison White has a passion for helping others. The Churchill, Ontario native graduated from York University in 2012, completed a Communicative Disorders Assistant Program, and then eyed the rest of the world for further study opportunities. We caught up with Alison recently to find out how she is enjoying her Master of Speech Pathology Studies program at the University of Queensland.
As usual, we are thrilled to hear our former students’ stories and we know sharing these experiences is the best way to help prospective students get a feel for their program and university of interest. Here, Alison offers some less-thought-of insight that many new students will find helpful! Check out her tips about the Brisbane transit system, doctor visits, school supplies, clothing, and banking.
Why did you want to become a speech pathologist?
I have always had a passion for helping people. Prior to commencing my undergraduate studies in kinesiology and health science, I knew I wanted to work in the field of rehabilitation. After a few years of volunteering in different areas, I knew speech-language pathology was for me. My interests lie mainly in the adult neurogenic communication disorders as a result of a stroke or traumatic brain injury. (Neurogenic speech disorders are defined as an inability to exchange information with others due to nervous system impairment.)
Why did you choose UQ?
I have completed all my studies in Canada, and knew that studying abroad would provide me with a rich educational experience, cultural change, and insight to the practice of speech-language pathology in a different country.
What’s your program like?
A day in the life of a UQ speech pathology GEMS (Graduate Entry Masters) student: In regard to coursework, our timetable changes day to day. Some days we have class for only 2–4 hours and other days we have class for 8 hours. We are on campus 5 days of the week! On top of coursework, we also have our clinical placements. This current semester, my clinical pediatric placement consists of being in the clinic 4 hours once a week. Two of those hours are spent doing administrative work and meetings with my clinical educator, and the remaining two is direct client contact where we are either conducting assessments or implementing intervention programs. When I am not in lecture, lab, or placement, I spend the remainder of my time at the UQ Sport Fitness Centre, working part time and completing homework or assignments.
What are your likes and dislikes about the program?
- The lecturers at UQ are world renowned and provide you with the best educational experience
- The on-campus clinic is great and provides the community with less expensive rates for assessments and intervention
- As there are only 23 of us in the GEMS cohort, and we are all very close and work well together
- Variety of libraries on campus to use for studies
- Assessment and resources are available in the library for UQ speech pathology students to use if the clinic is closed
- Assignments and examinations are very fair and really allow you to demonstrate and apply your knowledge of that subject through case-based or practical questions
- Placement schedules are sent out in short notice of the placement commencing, which makes it difficult if you plan on working part time
- UQ library study rooms book up well in advance
What’s the most surprising thing about your time in Australia?
The most surprising thing so far about my time in Australia is the lack of insects and animals I have seen! I was very nervous coming to Australia, as everyone scared me about how deadly Australia’s insects and animals were. To date, I have yet to see a snake or a poisonous spider!
Just some fun information:
- Bigger spiders tend to be less dangerous (e.g., Huntsman).
- Spiders with color on their back such as the red back (black widow in North America) are said to be more dangerous.
- Flying foxes are seen every night. They are basically very large bats!
- Possums are equivalent to our raccoon population in Ontario, Canada and wild turkeys are seen as frequently as Canadian geese.
- Research the program prior to applying! UQ is very good with getting Canadian students the required hours for SAC or your provincial regulatory body, but ensure you are aware of the coursework and clinical requirements prior to commencing the program.
- Look into provincial funding or “professional lines of credit.” Some banking institutions will give you a line of credit for out-of-country studies, while others may not. I personally did not use a provincial loan. Instead, I dealt with CIBC and BMO which both provided me with great funding options.
- The cost of tuition seems outrageous—but it is so worth it! UQ is classified as in the top 100 schools in the world, and I completely agree with that. The education you will receive in the UQ speech pathology program is worth every penny you spend. Also, your are in Australia—the experience of living here alone will make it even more worth it!
- Using transit in Brisbane is great! You can either take a bus, train, or ferry. If you have a concession card (student) the fare is half the cost of an adult trip! Also, when you travel 9 trips in a week, your 10th trip and every trip after is free up until Sunday. For example: If you ride transit for 10 trips Monday through Thursday, for Friday through Sunday you will not be charged for your rides. It restarts on Mondays!
- The doctors at the campus medical clinic are great to deal with. You do need to make an appointment but can be seen through the triage system if the matter is urgent. The clinic directly bills to OSHC, so you do not have to pay for your visit.
- Do not over-pack if you choose to move to Australia! There are a lot of great stores where you can buy the essentials you will need. Also, do not bring school supplies—the paper size is different (A4) and most binders are two-ringed!
- Before moving to Australia, set up a bank account. I went with Commonwealth Bank of Australia and was able to set up my account and transfer money into it prior to moving. However, I also suggest ordering between $1,000 and $2,000 AUD in cash to bring with you, as it will take a week or so to get your debit card. You can still go into the bank to withdraw money, but only during business hours.
How was it to find accommodation? Do you have any tips for future students?
I wanted to get to Australia before deciding on long-term accommodation. I lived in short-term accommodation on campus for a month, which was a place recommended by OzTREKK. My roommate (who is in the UQ physiotherapy program) and I found long-term accommodation easily. The condo building we live in is in Taringa. It is a very safe area, only a 10-minute walk to the shops in Toowong, and the building has high security measures which is also great. A few tips for accommodations:
- Have at least two letters of recommendation from previous landlords or friends who can vouch for you.
- Be prepared to pay a bond when signing a lease. A bond is equivalent to a months’ rent.
- Many rental properties charge rent on a weekly basis, but depending on where you decide to live, some will allow you to pay fortnightly (biweekly) or monthly.
- Some properties are furnished (but you pay much more a month). We found it was much easier to find unfurnished places. We use a site called Gumtree which is similar to Kijiji where people sell used items! It was very easy to furnish our condo. Keep in mind when places say unfurnished, they mean completely empty except for maybe a stove and dryer.
How did you find out about OzTREKK?
I found out about OzTREKK from researching the UQ program. OzTREKK made the application process so easy. They also were a great help when I choose to accept UQ’s offer and prepared me for the transition of moving across the world.
About the UQ Speech Pathology program
The Master of Speech Pathology Studies program is an accelerated program for students who have already completed an undergraduate degree. The program 2.5 years in length and will prepare graduates for a career in speech pathology across any of the diverse areas in which speech pathologists practice, such as education, health or private practice.
Program: Master of Speech Pathology Studies
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Next Semester intake: July 2015
Duration: 2.5 years
Application deadline: TBC. Contact Sarah Bridson for more information about the 2015 intake and to apply!