Helen's Global Experience

Cohort 5 Young Achiever
Bachelor of Arts/Laws (Honours)

I always passionately wanted to travel but was worried I wouldn’t be able to afford it. Worried about spending a full semester away but wanting to feed my desire to travel, I started to look into short-term exchange programs. Fortunately, with the New Colombo Plan (NCP) and UQ Travel Grant, I was able to travel to Indonesia where I worked for six weeks. This counted towards my degree but also doubled as international work experience as the course was geared at gaining experience in a relevant internship program.

It truly was the best of both worlds and the cost of the program included two weekend trips out to explore Indonesia and allowed me to experience what it was like to live and work in another country. The grants covered everything relating to the 6 six weeks. And once I was in Jakarta I made the most of cheap flights around the country to spend some weekend trips in Bali, Yogyakarta, Borneo and Flores.

The support from the program coordinators was fantastic - they organised my accommodation and made sure there were plenty of social events to meet up with other Australian students studying and working in Jakarta, as well as networking events to meet industry professionals, and language classes to assist with making friends with local students. 

After that first exchange experience I looked into another opportunity a little further from home. Just last summer I secured an OS-HELP loan and another travel grant which support me to complete a short course in the Netherlands. For six weeks I studied International Environmental Law and the University of Maastricht and again the support was fantastic and there were loads of opportunities to mingle with locals, and catch up with other exchange students. This experience also included weekend trips to explore neighbouring countries and I was completely blown away by the opportunity. This trip was definitely more expensive than Indonesia but the Netherlands providing a great starting point for extra travel around a Europe. 

My biggest tip is to remain open to opportunities - even to the prospect of visiting countries you may not have initially considered. Indonesia wasn’t at the top of my list but I am so grateful that I had that chance to work in a place to remarkably diverse and incredibly beautiful. With a little bit of forward planning and careful budgeting, anything is possible.


Learn about the New Colombo Plan Scholarship, a government funded scholarship supporting young Australians to live, study, intern and undertake language training in the Indo-Pacific region in 2021: https://global-engagement.uq.edu.au/ncp-scholarship