Settling into Monash University as an International Doctoral Student

The move to a new country to undertake your postgraduate study can be exhilarating, scary, confusing and life-changing. I undertook this online module that focused aims at allowing the transition to be a little smoother for an international student.

Date: Activated on  1 May 2016
Time: 5 hours to complete
Location: Online – Moodle Link: <GRD Online>

To start off, one of the key “take-home” message for a new PhD student is to be aware of what they hope to achieve. This helps identify and narrow down the specific goals and experiences to target. While broader experiences are necessary, the candidate with clear goals can be more focused, thus will be successfully able to connect with  people with similar expectations and join targeted groups to pursue their objectives. One of the effective ways to achieve this is to have the goals listed down as  a mind map, a sketch, a cartoon or a diagram and posted on your study desk.

Usually in the first few weeks of the candidature, it is important for the candidate to ensure that they are socially connected with other students (actively participate in departmental function and virtual forums), be friends with the administrators (these will be extremely helpful people during the candidature), be aware of the library resources (subject librarians) and to be organised (with your tools/software and a realistic research plan).

Establishing the role of the supervisor and their expectation early in the project is also crucial. The role generally for a supervisor is to ensure that they:

  1. Listen to and engage with you intellectually on a regular basis
  2. provide structured feedback to assist you in building your academic profile as a researcher, writer, commentator and scholar
  3. guide your research and writing.

The next most important thing is to be familiar with your surroundings.  This means to make the most out of the experience, you have to socialize with the locals, learn their slang and idioms and also become very comfortable describing your project in terms that everyone can understand (in less that 1-3 mins). This is usually the ice-breaker question asked to PhD students.

Finally, as a student, on should not ever hesitate to seek support or advise. These may include guidance from the Faculty staff, your supervisors, your fellow students and the MIGR Office.

An one final bit of advice to round up the topics is: To be tenacious and grounded throughout the candidature!!