Three girls posing on an old bridge over a canal by trees, colourful buildings and landmarks in Verona, Italy

From E12 to overseas immersion: Victoria's story so far

10 December 2020
Pathway of educational excellence and new frontiers
Within her first year at university, Victoria Lonergan gained more than she'd imagined – including a new language skill and cultural experiences that inspired greater pursuits for a bright future.
Portrait of Victoria

Victoria Lonergan, current Bachelor of Arts and Advanced Studies (Media and Communications) student

In 2018, Victoria was offered a scholarship through the University of Sydney’s Early Offer Year 12 (E12) Scheme after her HSC exams. The following year, she commenced her Media and Communications degree to major in Film Studies within the Dalyell Scholars stream for high achievers.

Since then she’s been on the 2019 Dean’s List of Excellence in Academic Performance, and received the Vice Chancellor's Global Mobility Award and Bank of China Social Inclusion Scholarship.

The University’s E12 pathway supports NSW students who are experiencing financial hardship or attend a government-identified lower socio-economic, regional or remote school. It was established to implement the federal government’s aims to address Australia’s education gap. In line with University’s policies on diversity and social inclusion, over 350 students have successfully applied each year since the first intake in 2013.

We catch up with Victoria on how the scheme has supported her undergraduate studies:

What did the E12 offer mean to you?

Receiving the E12 scholarship eased some of the financial pressures with starting my degree. I knew that I wanted to gain overseas experience during my studies, so the extra support for an international program was another great opportunity within the scholarship that made me excited about studying at USYD!

What is the Vice Chancellor’s Global Mobility Award and how did you get it?

The Vice Chancellor’s Global Mobility Award is one of the ways the E12 offers financial support. In 2019, I was lucky enough to go on the Open Learning Environment (OLE) in-country program to Padua, Italy. While organising for the unit, the Sydney Global Mobility team reached out to me about the award and its benefits. From there, it was as simple as filling out another form as part of my application. The award was a great helping hand for my trip abroad.

As an E12 student, I really appreciate the support USYD was able to provide. It alleviated the financial pressures that came with planning my studies overseas.

How was it like learning a new language in an immersive environment?

What I found so unique was the opportunity to learn both the language and history of Italy while being in one of the country’s oldest cities. I’ll never forget the trip we took to the Scene di Paglia where we shared a night of song and dance with some very talented theatre actors who had toured across Europe. Ultimately, it was the people and Padova’s way of embracing the values of family, food and connection that elevated everything we learnt in and outside the classroom.

The in-country experience program allowed me to learn from some incredible professors at the University of Padova. Connecting with the local community enriched my experience.

How have you applied the skills you gained from the in-country unit?

Other than learning a new language, the experience broadened my interests in film into Italian cinema and its history. I’ve found this to be particularly helpful in my production work where I continue to draw on the aesthetics and style of European cinema that I was able to witness in Padua. Career-wise, my time in Italy offered great networking opportunities; it has also made me look forward to potentially working there in the future!

Any advice for future students interested in the OLE in-country language intensive – both virtual and overseas?

Pick a language unit you’re genuinely interested in. Be open to exploring cultures and languages that you perhaps have never considered before. Unlike a traditional exchange, the unit goes for a shorter period – typically two to three weeks. To get the most out of the experience, try to take advantage of every opportunity and push yourself outside your comfort zone!

Any other tips for students applying for an international program?

My biggest advice is to spend some time researching where you want to travel, and to consider what language and culture you’d love to immerse yourself in! Any program, whether its two weeks or two semesters, will allow you to learn within a completely new environment with people from diverse backgrounds. Choose a program or place that genuinely excites you. Also, plan in advance so you can fully enjoy every second of your experience!

What are you most looking forward to in your future at university and beyond?

I’m keen to be undertaking more work experience in the communications and film industry, and ultimately take my career to the next level. I also really enjoyed my time studying abroad in 2019 and I’m hoping to go on long-term exchange once international travel is allowed again (fingers crossed)!

The Early Offer Year 12 (E12) scheme supports undergraduate studies across various faculties and disciplines at the University of Sydney. Find out more and apply for the E12 scheme.

*The Vice Chancellor’s Global Mobility Award is available to eligible undergraduate students for an approved short-term exchange or global experience, including non-travel virtual sessions and internships during the 2020–2021 summer intensive session and Semester 1, 2021.

Hero image: Victoria (centre) with classmates in Verona, Italy for the OLE in-country experience unit in July 2019

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