I think we can all agree the events of 2020 were, to use one of the Prime Minister’s favourite words, extremely unprecedented. I started the year excited for my upcoming semester exchange to the United States, which I had been looking forward to for a long time. Then, of course, it quickly became evident international travel was not on the cards, and probably would not be for a while to come. This was incredibly disappointing, as I had been amped to go overseas and broaden both my academic and cultural knowledge, make new friends and mark a new chapter of independence.
However, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to experience some of these moments over the summer when I enrolled at the University of New South Wales (for a week) to study a psychology and crime course. As a psychology and criminology student, I was thrilled to take a course that seamlessly blended neuropsychology, criminology and sociology together, and had enlisted the knowledge and expertise of highly regarded academics as well as professionals working in the criminal justice system. What could have easily been a dry course was engaging and eye-opening.
Of course, it was difficult to stay engaged through a computer screen – I’m a very hands-on learner – but with over half of the cohort Zooming in from all over the world, we made the best of the situation. What struck me as most remarkable was the dedication of many of my fellow students. Despite the course not offering credits for those on a virtual exchange, the enthusiasm and level of participation was indicative of just how passionate about and interested in the subject matter we all were. In fact, a couple of German girls in my group for the assignment would jump on a video call at around 2am local time just to contribute their ideas and stay involved with the work. Truly inspiring.
2020 was a tough year all around. With the pandemic going on, I feel incredibly lucky that I was able to have some semblance of meeting people from around the world (without a lengthy quarantine process of course!). From the lecturers to my fellow students, I definitely learned a lot – and it was particularly rewarding to listen to people from diverse cultural backgrounds share their experiences and ideas while speaking on topics that benefit from this exact diversity of opinion. It was certainly an extremely rewarding opportunity, and would only have been possible with 360 International and the extensive ties the university has internationally.