From Canada to Brisbane: a UQ Speech Pathology student offers advice

Former OzTREKK student Mackenzie Gunn will soon be in her second year in the Master of Speech Pathology Studies program at the University of Queensland. Many Canadian students are in the midst of exploring their study options: Study in Canada, or study abroad? How do you know which option is right for you?

Even though she’s swamped with coursework and clinical practice, the Orono, Ontario native has kindly offered to describe her program and her time at UQ in order to help future students who are interested in studying speech pathology in Australia!

University of Queensland speech pathology student
Mackenzie’s new koala friend at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane

The reason behind my choices

I have always had a passion to work with children and towards the area of teaching and helping others. I was drawn to speech pathology because you get to work one on one with patients to treat their specific needs and aid them with vital life skills.

Initially, I chose the University of Queensland because of its strong affiliation with Canadian certifications; however, after researching, what I really liked about the university is the design of their program, as it is five semesters opposed to four. This allows students to have a summer break and recharge in between semesters, which is lovely.

Incredible program, incredible university

I absolutely love the program so far! From second semester onward the courses are specific and job related with aids for future reference. The staff aims to prepare you for the workplace in the various areas of speech pathology.

I was surprised by the amount of real clinical expertise integrated into the learning environment. Not only does the course offer clinics each semester for the students, but the teachers also use their real clinical experience and expertise to promote learning and to allow students to think through clinical situations they may experience one day.

University of Queensland speech pathology student
Smile for the camera!

The campus is absolutely gorgeous! It has maintained an older charm, but classrooms are up to date and functional for the teachers’ and students’ needs. All of your lectures are recorded and available online to re-watch in case you missed anything in class. Additionally, all of the classroom sizes are true to the number of students; thus for the program they are relatively small, which is ideal for learning.

After graduation… and clinical hours

Eventually, I plan to return to Canada. The UQ Speech Pathology School is dedicated to ensuring that Canadian students meet the hour requirements for Canada, as they are higher than Australian requirements. It is easy to get fully accredited in Canada: you just have to write and pass an exam. It is very important that you keep track of these hours throughout your program as the Canadian hours (or provincial hours) differ from Australian hours!

Sydney Dental School
Port Stephens, New South Wales

Time to settle in and explore

During my first year, I lived just off campus at Unilodge@St.Lucia and paid $360 a week. This was all-inclusive (i.e., internet, hydro, social events) and less than two minutes to the main building for speech pathology students. OzTREKK was very helpful in finding me this apartment, as it was one of their suggestions and I would recommend it or one similar for the first six months to a year for pure convenience and ease while you get to know the city. This was very convenient and a lovely apartment.

I have recently moved to the suburb of Milton and pay $230 a week plus utilities. Milton is close to the city, has many restaurants, stores, and bus options. It is a great location between school and downtown. Domain.com.au and rental.com.au are both excellent sites to use if you are looking for an apartment.

Australia is very diverse and different from Canada in so many ways, but similar at the same time, and it still feels homey. Brisbane always has festivals, markets, and various restaurants around the city to explore each weekend. My favourite part about my experience, besides my program, is that I am experiencing so many new things I never thought I would. Whether it is traveling somewhere new, visiting a new restaurant, taking the City Cat (ferry) or being able to go to the beach regularly—it is a different way of life from Canada and a great experience!

uq-speech-pathology-student-offers-advice
Visiting Nitmiluk National Park in Darwin, QLD

My advice for anyone considering studying in Australia

The best advice is to go in with an open mind! It will be a great adventure—make sure you are well prepared for it. Give yourself lots of time: get your visa in order, research an area you would like to live in, update yourself on Canadian requirements and research the city for fun things to do. You’re there to study, but you also have to make it a home for the time you’re there, so get to know the people in your cohort and the city.

Make sure you have a balance between school and other things such as friends, sports, or even television. At first it is strange being away from your friends and family, but there are many other Canadians, along with other international students, who are doing the same thing. It is very easy to bond and support one another because of this. Build a support network in Australia that you can count on and do fun things with so you can immerse yourself and make a home in Australia while you are there.

Everyone enters into this experience very differently, but make the most of it! Australia is amazing and Brisbane is a great city to live in. It is a big city, but small enough that it still feels homey. You won’t be disappointed that you made the choice to study at the University of Queensland.

About the UQ Speech Pathology program

The UQ speech pathology 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 path 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 2017
Duration: 2.5 years
Application deadline: February 27, 2017


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