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Prior to leaving for their chosen destination, many international students have their educational and career journeys fully mapped out. However, for others the journey can lead them down unexpected, but invigorating and rewarding pathways. Jaspreet Gill of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) knows this better than anyone. Having originally travelled from Ludhiana, India to Sydney to study Biotechnology, Jaspreet’s experience at his new campus would eventually influence him to instead begin pursuing a Masters degree in secondary teaching. From the subcontinent to the southern continent, and from student to teacher, this is Jaspreet’s journey.

Getting Started

Hi Jaspreet, how did your journey from Ludhiana to Sydney begin?

My journey began with a strong desire to pursue my education in Australia. This was influenced by my father's past experience living and working as an engineer in Australia. Despite the popularity of America and Canada among my cousins, I was always drawn to Australia. However, my plans faced setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I had to adapt to studying online for the first two semesters. Nonetheless, with things gradually returning to normal, I was able to fulfill my dream of coming to Sydney.

Had you heard of IDP prior to starting your international education journey?

I have been familiar with IDP since childhood, as my father’s business is partnered with IDP. I grew up attending IDP award events with my father back in India, so I knew from an early age that IDP would play a crucial role in my educational journey. I had confidence that IDP would provide the necessary support and guidance to help me achieve my goals.

Why did you ultimately decide upon Australia and University of Technology Sydney (UTS) as your study destination?

My decision was fuelled by a combination of factors. Australia's reputation for excellence in education, coupled with its multicultural environment and high quality of life, made it an attractive choice for pursuing my academic goals. The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) particularly stood out for me due to its innovative Biotechnology program. The program's emphasis on practical learning experiences, such as internships and placements, resonated with my desire for hands-on learning and real-world application of knowledge. Additionally, receiving a scholarship from UTS further solidified my decision.

Undertaking Studies

What initially interested you in pursuing Biotechnology?

I had a few lessons on it back in Grade 12. Those classes intrigued me a lot as they introduced me to the interdisciplinary nature of Biotechnology, blending principles of biology, chemistry, and technology to address real-world challenges. The concept of leveraging biological processes to develop innovative solutions for various industries, such as healthcare and environmental sustainability, resonated deeply with me. I was drawn to the dynamic and rapidly evolving nature of the field, which continually pushes the boundaries of scientific knowledge and technological innovation. Furthermore, as I researched potential academic pathways, I discovered the comprehensive Biotechnology program offered by UTS. The program's emphasis on practical learning experiences, including industry placements and internships, further solidified my decision to pursue this program.

Having just completed your Bachelors, you’ve now moved on to pursuing your Master of Teaching (Secondary). Was teaching always something you wanted to pursue? Why/why not?

Teaching was not initially on my radar when I began my academic journey, but it gradually emerged as a passion through my experiences at UTS. Working as a workshop presenter for UTS Science provided me with the opportunity to share my enthusiasm for science with high school students, igniting a newfound interest in education and mentorship. The satisfaction of seeing students engage with and learn from the material made me want to explore teaching further. As I continued to interact with senior Master of Teaching students and learn about their experiences, I became increasingly drawn to the idea of pursuing a career in education. The prospect of inspiring and empowering future generations of learners resonated deeply with me, ultimately leading me to pursue a Master of Teaching degree.

Settling In

How helpful were the IDP counsellors in India with helping you to plan out your international education journey?

The counsellors played a crucial role in guiding me through the intricacies of my journey. From assisting with university applications to providing guidance on visa procedures, their expertise and support were invaluable every step of the way. As a first-time international student, navigating the application process and understanding the requirements can be daunting, but the IDP counsellors provided clarity and reassurance throughout. Their personalised approach, attention to detail, and wealth of knowledge not only eased the logistical aspects of the journey but also instilled confidence in me as I embarked on this new chapter of my life.

How did UTS and IDP counsellors help you settle in to your new life in Sydney?

UTS and IDP counsellors provided invaluable support in helping me settle into my new life in Sydney. UTS provided a welcoming and supportive environment, offering a range of orientation programs, academic resources, and social events tailored specifically for international students. These initiatives helped me acclimate to my new surroundings, connect with fellow students, and feel a sense of belonging within the university community.

Though they are both in the APAC region, India and Australia are quite culturally different. What surprised you most about Australia when you first arrived here?

The cultural diversity in Australia was one of the most surprising aspects for me upon arriving here. I was amazed by the melting pot of people from various countries and backgrounds living harmoniously. Experiencing this diversity firsthand has enriched my life and allowed me to make friends from all over the world.

You obviously study very hard. That said, what do you like to do in your spare time, or on weekends?

In my spare time and on weekends, I enjoy indulging in a variety of activities that allow me to unwind and recharge. Whether it's catching up with friends over a delicious meal, soaking up the sun at one of Sydney's stunning beaches, or immersing myself in the latest movies or books, I really enjoy doing all this. I love travelling and I recently got a chance to go to New York for a vacation after finishing my undergrad which was such a great experience, and I can’t wait to travel somewhere else soon.

You’ve also recently completed an internship role as part of Professional Experience in Medical Science (PEMS) program. How valuable was this experience for you?

This internship provided me with invaluable exposure to the practical aspects of working in a medical laboratory, specifically in the field of pathology. I had the chance to shadow experienced professionals and closely observe their work, while actively contributing to various aspects of laboratory procedures.

The experience was immensely valuable as it allowed me to apply the theoretical knowledge gained through my coursework to real-world scenarios. It also provided me with insights into the broader field of medical science, particularly in the context of diagnostic pathology. Overall, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have been part of such an enriching program.

Helping Fellow Students

You’ve taken up a role as a student ambassador at UTS. What inspired you to help your fellow students, particularly international students?

I wanted to give back to the university community and support my fellow students, especially international students who may face unique challenges and experiences. Having walked in their shoes, I understand firsthand the importance of having access to guidance, resources, and a supportive network during the transition to university life. As a student ambassador, I have the privilege of leveraging my own experiences and insights to provide mentorship, guidance, and support to my peers. Whether it's sharing tips on navigating campus life, providing advice on academic and career-related matters, or simply lending a listening ear, I'm committed to helping my fellow students feel supported, empowered, and valued within the UTS community.

More and more students want to pursue international education every year. What’s some advice you would give to other prospective international students who aren’t sure where to start their journey?

Firstly, take the time to thoroughly research and explore your options. Consider factors such as academic programs, location, cost of living, and cultural fit to find the best match for your individual needs and aspirations. Utilise resources such as educational consultants, university websites, and student forums to gather information and insights into different study destinations and institutions.

Secondly, seek guidance and support from experienced professionals and organisations such as IDP, who can provide personalised assistance and advice tailored to your specific circumstances and goals.

Thirdly, remain open-minded and adaptable to new experiences and challenges. Studying abroad offers a wealth of opportunities for personal and academic growth, but it also requires resilience, flexibility, and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone.

Lastly, don't be afraid to reach out for help or guidance when needed. Remember that you are not alone, and there are people and organisations ready to support and guide you every step of the way.

This interview was part of our ongoing series, ‘Student Success Stories’. Check out our previous entries below:

Vincent Dwyer
Vincent Dwyer22 May 2024