For Peruvian international student Daphne Vilca, studying is all about helping others. Last year, she began a Master of Education (TESOL) at the University of South Australia and she has big plans for her future as an English teacher. After graduating, she’ll return to Peru and share what she has learned in order to make a difference in her community.
To make her dreams a reality, Daphne knew she needed to improve her skills in an English-speaking country. Australia was about as far away as she could imagine. She had no idea what to expect but was motivated enough to dive in anyway.
“I just thought it would be great to go to study in this country that is very far away,” she says. “It was more like a feeling to go overseas and to see a different culture. I had this feeling that it was a good decision, that something really good was coming for me.”
After going through the application process, Daphne was awarded a scholarship to study at the University of South Australia. It was only later, when she began to receive emails from the university about student life, that the reality of moving to a place she knew so little about truly hit her. She was optimistic, but a little nervous.
Despite the fact that it’s on the other side of the world, Adelaide is not actually that different from Daphne’s home city in Peru. After growing up in Arequipa, a city of around 840,000 people, Daphne was prepared for the slower pace of life in Adelaide and immediately took to the city’s calm and peaceful atmosphere.
“For me it’s perfect, I really love living in Adelaide,” she says. “It actually reminds me of my home in Arequipa – it’s green, it’s friendly, it’s modern, I know where to go, I feel safe. I’m someone who likes living in a very peaceful and calm place. I was looking for something like that, even though I didn’t know what Adelaide was like when I decided to come here.”
This year, she hopes to travel around Australia more and explore all that South Australia has to offer.
At university, Daphne has thrived and made the most of opportunities to practise her English. She has embraced the style of education at the University of South Australia, which she says is very different from her undergraduate studies at a public university in Peru.
In the past, her exams had always been written, short answer-type questions, but when she started her Masters in Australia, she had to learn how to write an essay for the first time.
“You really need to study to start writing an essay and I think you learn more that way,” she says. “It helps you develop other kinds of skills, like your creativity, discipline and honesty.”
Along with improving her written communication skills, Daphne has gained a lot of confidence and understanding of other cultures through her studies as an international student.
Daphne’s passion is not only restricted to her career in education. She believes her purpose in life is to always keep learning, through joining clubs and attending university events, as well as taking up interdisciplinary opportunities.
That’s why she jumped at the chance to volunteer at the University of South Australia’s new Museum of Discovery (MOD.). MOD. is a free, futuristic museum with changing exhibition programs that aim to inspire young adults about science and technology. Daphne was excited to be part of such an innovative concept.
“I was looking for a volunteering opportunity last year, and when I read the information about MOD., I thought it would be perfect because I like art in general and I thought it would be good for me to practice my English,” she says. “I made new friends and was able to learn something completely different from my field of study.”
Advice for students
Ultimately, the Master of Education at the University of South Australia has given Daphne so much more than just the knowledge she gains inside the classroom. As an English teacher, she is passionate about communicating with others, and studying in Australia has opened up both personal and professional opportunities. When she graduates at the end of 2019, she hopes to start her own education consultancy agency back in Peru.
“For me as an international student, I want to learn and share with other people from Australia and around the world. Australia is a perfect place to learn about other people because you can see all the different cultures in one country. Then, when you go back to your country, you can share this with your people, too.”