Emma Aspin, current PhD student

February 11, 2020, by Joshua Hawkins

My Ozzie Adelaide Experience – Emma Aspin

Moving half way around the world by yourself can seem like a daunting task. On top of that, you have the occupation of being a PhD student – this can mean challenging hours in the lab, a lot of working alone and sometimes an unbalanced work/leisure ratio… how would anyone deal with that?

I consider myself the ‘social butterfly’ type. You can find me on the ENFP side of Myers-Briggs, or a ‘Peacock-Dove’ of the ‘DOPE’ test (yes, really). Literally everything in my genetic makeup deters me from being unsociable, so I reached out and was determined to find friends in my new home.

Luckily, that was achieved with ridiculous ease. Thanks to being part of a cohort with the UoN-UoA Joint/Dual DTP scheme, I had a few points of contact to get in touch with straight away. We all have the scheme in common and any questions you have, they’ve had before! It’s incredible how quickly you can go from meeting strangers you’re studying with to becoming fast friends.

I also wanted to get involved with a society. I’m based on the Waite campus in Adelaide, so it made sense for me to join the Postgraduate Association for Waite Students (PAWS). From there, I was able to meet people from across the campus who came from a whole range of different countries and backgrounds. The charm in that is I’ve been able to sample delicious food from across a range of cuisines and be invited to parties for all sorts of new and diverse holidays – like Iranian New Year!

I started off as Secretary for PAWS, but after 1.5 years on the committee I became President (ooh, la dee dah). I’m now in charge of running events across the campus for students as well as community events. Our most recent one was a bake sale to raise funds for Bushfire Relief – everyone knows how devastating the impact bushfires have been in recent years in Australia. Thanks to the efforts of the Waite community (and a crudely drawn cupcake sign), we managed to raise $528!

A diverse group of nationalities… Australian, French, Italian, British, German, Spanish and Singaporean! Grampians National Park March 2019.

Another benefit of having internationals friends is that, again, you’re all in the same boat. You share a bond of knowing you’re in a new place and you’re all eager to go and explore it or be involved in as many new things as possible. That was definitely my case; when I landed in Australia, I vowed to myself that I would learn how to surf. After ticking that box, I’ve gone on to learn bouldering and scuba diving. Australia is definitely an adventurous person’s paradise!

Sunset from Glenelg beach

Despite the fact that you’re thousands of miles away from home, I think it’s incredibly easy to settle in Adelaide. Of course, it wouldn’t have been the same without the mix of people I’ve become friends with, and everyone’s experiences will be different. However, Adelaide is definitely a nucleus of activity and opportunity.

I’ve had a whirlwind of a time, all whilst working on a project I’m passionate about and being able to communicate it via news articles, community outreach and conferences. The Joint DTP has allowed me to collaborate with supervisors across two continents and for their expertise to combine and help refine my project. I’m super proud of how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved – my confidence and presentation skills have really gone through the roof since I started, and I have a couple of awards to show for it!

If I had to sum up my three top experiences, I would do it very concisely in a list quite like this:

  • The camping trips (Uluru, Flinders National Park, the Grampians, Kangaroo Island, Yorke Peninsula)
  • The wildlife (Koalas on the Waite campus, the sound of cockatoos and kookaburras filling the air, possums sneaking up to steal food from your BBQ)
  • And last but not least… the people: those who I met when I first arrived, those who moved on along the way and those I have yet to meet

More of what I’ve been up to:

Some hobbies I picked up along the way – surfing, bouldering and scuba diving (not the most flattering of looks…). Postgraduate Association for Waite Students (PAWS) bake sale for Bushfire Relief, January 2020 The locals in Australia are super cute! And the holiday destinations are second to none

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