Study

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Studying in Beijing


For students Laura Cottman and Aaryn Paterson, studying the Core Curriculum in Beijing pushed them out of their comfort zones, which they both said only made the experience more impactful.

The Core Curriculum is at the heart of every student’s education at ACU and it’s a unique opportunity to reflect on the bigger issues in life and to discover how we all play a part in changing the world.

And while these Core subjects can be applied with depth and insight at home, for education student Aaryn and law and global studies student Laura, studying the Core in Beijing helped bring their studies to life in ways they did not expect.

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(Left) Aaryn Paterson

The real deal

For Laura, the opportunity to study a unit about justice and change in a global world in Beijing was an obvious choice. “That subject is all about thinking in a global context, so just being in a totally different city helped bring to life what we were discussing in class,” she said.

“I’ve been learning about China in my global studies units here at home and I already knew a bit about their political climate, so it wasn’t completely foreign to me. But being in the country I’ve written so many essays about definitely made it become more real for me.”

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(Centre) Laura Cottman

Aaryn agreed that being in the heart of Beijing helped heighten what she was learning in the Core. “Being in a foreign city changed everything,” she said. “In every class, we were presented with something new to think about. As the subject we were there to study is about human flourishing and how we’re all connected, it added a whole new level to the experience. It just wouldn’t have been the same if I was doing this unit at home in Melbourne.”

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Local flavour

While studying the International Core Curriuculum overseas did require time in the classroom at a local Beijing university, for Aaryn, meeting the locals was her favourite part.

“Anything we did that involved interacting with the Chinese people who were just going about their day-to-day lives was what I enjoyed the most,” she said. “We did little meet and greets with students from other universities, and then there was the fun stuff like a cooking class where we all made dumplings together. But really, the chance we were given to live like the locals do is what gave me the best understanding of a culture totally different to my own.”

 

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The benefit of difference

While ACU students can opt to study the International Core Curriculum in Beijing, Rome, New York or Leeds, both Aaryn and Laura had China as their first choice.

“The other cities are Western democracies and I knew there would be similarities to how I live at home,” Laura said. “Whereas Beijing was always going to be completely different. It was so incredible to talk with everyone from the class about what we’d seen and learnt that day and to have the evidence of life in China right there at our fingertips.”

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In their shoes

For Aaryn, life in Beijing put her own freedoms in Australia in the spotlight. “I admit I found it difficult to understand some of their laws. We have so many freedoms in Australia,” she said. “I did struggle a bit with issues like how the internet is censored. I just tried to put myself in their shoes and think about how that would make me feel. In China I realised I needed to think more about what I was going to say before I said it – a challenge for me!

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“But when we were together in class, we were able to have a lot of very open and honest conversations, which I liked. We’d talk about human flourishing, the common good and issues like refugees. Getting to talk and listen to other perspectives genuinely changed the way I see and think about these things. That’s what made studying the Core such a good experience – you’re given the space to have these conversations in depth that maybe you wouldn’t have the opportunity to have normally.”

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Interested in studying overseas like Laura and Aaryn? Learn more about the International Core Curriculum in Beijing and the scholarships and financial support to help you get there.

Related stories

Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

If you have a story idea or just want to say hello, do contact us.

Copyright@ Australian Catholic University 1998-2019 | ABN 15 050 192 660 CRICOS Reg: 00004G