Jan 15, 2019
The world in a classroom — that would succinctly describe Ms Shania Chandan Mahtani’s experience at James Cook University (JCU).
The eight-month-long Pre-University Foundation Programme she enrolled in more than provided direct entry to her desired course. She also gained invaluable benefits from being part of a multicultural environment.
Students hailed from countries such as India, Indonesia and Vietnam, and she learnt to appreciate the school’s cosmopolitan culture. JCU, she says, also encourages students to learn from the vibrant community.
The 17-year-old says: “Although I experienced a mini culture shock when I first entered the university, I eventually became more comfortable in my new surroundings as I had the opportunity to make friends with people from all over the world.
“Meeting people from diverse backgrounds, who have different perspectives and life experiences, is transformative because it has made me more open-minded. Being in JCU has taught me that the world is a small place, and despite our differences, we are all interconnected.”
Understanding people from different backgrounds, she adds, is relevant to her subject because making sense of the thought processes of someone from a different culture is integral in psychology.
Ms Mahtani, who completed the foundation programme in October last year, has moved on to the Bachelor of Psychological Science programme. She will graduate in November 2020.
She has always been interested in psychology. After completing her O levels, she researched various institutions and settled on JCU. She found the school reputable and its psychology programme, which is endorsed by Australian Psychology Accreditation Council, well recognised.
Of her aspirations, she says: “I would like to devote my time and energy to help people overcome adversity, increase their well-being, and help them realise their full potential.
Being fresh out of secondary school, Ms Mahtani faced a steep learning curve. But the foundation programme, she says, was a good primer and readied her for higher learning.
At first, she struggled with her assignments as she was unaccustomed to writing lengthy essays, and was unsure of the structure required of academic writing. Her tutors’ willingness to guide her left a deep impression. “My tutors were more than happy to clarify my doubts. Although it took me a while to understand the format, they were very patient with me.”
She also picked up essential skills needed for university life. “Studying at JCU has made me more independent. I juggled multiple assignments and deadlines, and developed good time management skills.”
For those who are at the crossroads after their O-level examinations, she says: “It is important to study a field that interests you and in an area where you can make a difference.”