|Tessa has been one of our amazing interns leading up to and during this year's Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi. Here is what she had to say on the experience...
Tessa, 23 from Singapore
Bachelor of Arts (Art History, English), University of Sydney Master of Art Curatorship, University of Sydney
Why did you decide to study in Australia?
The decision to come to Australia was founded on the unanimous support of my family (especially relatives who have studied here a long time ago). They believed that an overseas education was invaluable - an experience that local education cannot quite measure up to. (And the fact that it was the cheaper overseas option compared to the UK or the US then.) Evidently, the decision to come here wasn't really my own.
I later came to appreciate the value of studying in Australia when I realised just how much more the universities here could offer me, compared to any local university at home, especially with regards to an Arts degree. Back where I'm from, universities have only always excelled in the business and engineering degrees, and while there are degrees for the Humanities, they haven't been given as much emphasis and room for development as compared to the others. As such, pursuing an arts degree overseas seemed to me an obvious choice and it most definitely has been an enriching journey. There's plenty of subjects to choose from and they often couldn't be found back home. Best of all, I knew I would be learning from the best of the best for the Arts.
But it wasn't all about the degree. Looking back, studying in Australia opened up my mind to other cultures, languages and people - it wasn't just an educational experience but a cultural one as well, and it has taught me more about myself and others. No wonder local education cannot measure up to it.
What was the biggest obstacle of being an international student in Australia (in terms of getting into uni and getting a job)?
The biggest difficulty of being an international student in Australia would be the initial daunting prospect of having to make the move here. It was hard to leave my sheltered life and comfort zone of family and friends for the next few years to live in a country that's not mine. There was much uncertainty about how it will all pan out. While it wasn't difficult to get into uni here, it's proving to be quite a struggle in terms of getting a job. I think the biggest obstacle in that aspect would be our citizenship.
What advice would you give to students contemplating study in Australia?
Do it! Living abroad broadens your mind and helps you appreciate the things in life you easily take for granted, especially when you're comfortable. It may be difficult at first but the rest of your stay here will prove to be a rewarding and wholesome experience, no matter what degree you choose to pursue.
I guess it's important to find out all you can about the universities and the various degrees here so you can make an informed decision. It's worth weighing the pros and cons of studying overseas and remaining in your home country, and deciding what's best for you. Speak to people who've gone overseas and remember that each person's experience will be different. It's also good to be prepared - read up about the culture and do as much as you can beforehand (i.e. accommodation) to help you settle down here. And when you do get here, make the most of your time here!
It's not as difficult as you imagine and you'll realise you're far more capable of living independently than you think. You won't be alone here because you'll find that there are many others in the same position as you. And if you can't cook or if you've never done your own laundry before - well you'll learn!
Where are you working now and what does it involve?
I am currently working for Sculpture by the Sea as an intern in the sales department, where our focus is primarily on the Bondi indoor show - Sculpture Inside. Throughout the three week exhibition, my role involves managing the gallery space, helping with the installation and de-installation of the art works, and making sales.
Prior to this, I assisted the sales team with the administrative preparation for the exhibition. This involved various tasks such as managing databases; collating information from artist submission forms; updating artists' biographies and CVs; managing exhibition labels, plaques and artist acceptance letters; contributing in the selection of art works and the measuring of plinths. I was also given the opportunity to be involved in the early development of a contemporary touring initiative for Sculpture Inside by developing an existing curatorial rationale, and having a go at drafting the budget for it.
Overall, it's been such a humbling learning experience to have had the opportunity to be a part of this. I learnt plenty while on this internship and it's complimented my studies in helping me to better understand this particular organisation and the way things work. I have been very fortunate.
Tessa at Sculpture Inside, Bondi 2011.