Macquarie chiropractic student balances study, work and fun

Like Canada, few post-secondary institutions in Australia offer chiropractic programs. Macquarie University is the only OzTREKK university that offers a program in this area. The Macquarie Bachelor of Chiropractic Science—the longest-running in Australia—will prepare students for a rewarding career in one of the largest primary health professions. When combined with the Master of Chiropractic, graduates will be equipped to work in private practice, chiropractic sports-medicine, allied health areas, health insurance assessment, medico-legal advising, work health and safety, rehabilitation and research.

Former OzTREKK student Kevin Fong began his Australian education journey in 2013 when he decided to undertake the Bachelor of Chiropractic Science at Macquarie University. He is now in his first year of the Master of Chiropractic program. This is his story!

Sydney Dental School
Bachelor of Chiropractic Science graduate, Kevin Fong!

Why did you choose to study chiropractic, and why did you choose to study in Australia?

I was first introduced to chiropractic by my uncle who now practices in Indonesia. While I was doing my first degree, I also played Ultimate Frisbee where I was injured quite often. I tried many different types of treatment but eventually found that chiropractic treatments worked the best for me. I was fortunate enough to be offered a job working for a chiropractor and was able to learn more about the profession. I loved the idea of being able to be actively part of a patient’s recovery without resorting to medication. I decided to pursue chiropractic studies.

I chose Macquarie University in Australia because it is a great country to visit and explore. My parents brought me to Australia many times when I was young as we have family here. Also, Australia was able to offer me the lifestyle and travel opportunities that other programs in Canada and the States did not. Spending time with family over here is also a great plus.

Are you enjoying the program?

I am loving my program, but I would be lying if I didn’t say it has become quite a challenge, especially in the Master’s program. The Bachelor’s program is a great way to build a solid foundation of scientific knowledge. One surprise was that at the very beginning, we went straight into “hands on” practical learning. It is a very sharp learning curve at first and can really shock you if unprepared. Having said that, if you love to learn, then you’re in for a treat. Another surprise was that by second semester, we were at the hospital labs working with cadavers to learn anatomy. Nothing is particularly easy, but if you are interested in what you are doing, then it never seems hard, but rather enjoyable.

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Enjoying the scenery at Bundeena Wedding Cake Rock, south of Sydney

One of the challenges that I have had to face is finding a good balance of study, work and fun. For myself, studying has always been the priority because that is what I am here to do. The Bachelor of Chiropractic Science is not an easy program but if you are focused, there is no reason why you cannot make it through. So while I have focused on class, I have still managed my share of fun.

How would you describe the facilities?

Macquarie is a large university and I can say that I don’t even know all of the buildings on campus. Some of the buildings are a bit old though and some lecture theaters could use a renovation as desks and chairs are needing repair; however, buildings are being upgraded and gets better each year.

Finding study space on campus is quite a challenge as space or power points are limited. The campus hub offers a large selection of food and if the options don’t suit you, Macquarie Food Court is a short walk. The campus has a gym, hospital and the campus bar, which makes the only thing you might really need to do off campus is grocery shop. On a nice day, enjoying the campus bar on the upper patio overlooking the lake is the best, especially after final exams.

What are you enjoying most about your time in Australia?

Probably the lifestyle that I’ve managed to maintain and the friends that I’ve made. There are always new mountain trails to hike, like the Blue Mountains, or other wineries to try, such as the Hunter valley. Most are reachable by train or by finding a Groupon deal for great prices. Flights are unbelievably cheap in Australia and you can almost go anywhere for $150–$200 round trip if you time it right. If I’m ever homesick, there are plenty of Canadians studying here, too, all the while working and studying the profession of my choice. I also manage to sneak in playing Ultimate Frisbee when I can and have even managed to play in the Australian Uni Games. And of course, having family here that I don’t see nearly enough makes Australia pretty great.

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Kevin’s Ultimate Frisbee team competed at the Australian University Games in 2014

“Nothing is particularly easy, but if you are interested in what you are doing, then it never seems hard, but rather enjoyable.”

How did you find accommodation?

When I first got here it was a nightmare. I have family here and so for the first while I stayed with them. Getting accommodation after that was a challenge. I was used to paying about $600 per month in Canada and that’s with all your utilities, internet and some furniture in a basement suite. That wasn’t the case here and the prices are all listed in per week rather than monthly. I originally lived in Carlingford ($130 per week), which turned sour when I realized it took over 40 minutes to bus even though it was a 15-minute drive to the university.

Since then I’ve moved from Epping, to Marsfield, to Epping again. I paid approximately $180 per week when I was renting from someone with everything included, but now pay $190 plus utilities per week because I rent with friends. Utilities are about $30 per month paid quarterly if you don’t go overboard and then another $45 for internet split between my roommates.

A month of living here can be about $765 if you’re interested in saving. This compared to the approximate $1100 if you live at the university housing. There are sacrifices, such as distance—it takes me 20 minutes to get to campus, and the social life. You can bring rent down dramatically if you’re willing to commute, but when you have an 8 a.m. class almost every day, location matters. If you’re looking for accommodations off campus, consider looking at Gumtree.

How can future students better prepare for moving to/studying in Australia?

Take advantage of all the services offered to you as an international student. OzTREKK makes the application process unbelievably easy and once you’re in Australia, utilize the international services as they know exactly how you’re feeling and can help sort out any administrative problems. Other than that, connecting with other international students who are studying in Australia as they are in the same boat you are in and should be able to help you with studying.

Make sure you make the most of your time. My program is five years in total and I can’t believe how fast it has gone by so far and there’s still tons I want to do!

Bachelor of Chiropractic

Program: Bachelor of Chiropractic Science
Location: North Ryde, Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: February
Duration: 3 years
Application deadline: Rolling admissions. The sooner you apply the better.

Master of Chiropractic

Program: Master of Chiropractic
Location: North Ryde, Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: February
Duration: 2 – 3 years (dependent upon candidate’s background)
Application deadline: Rolling admissions. The sooner you apply the better.


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