Coming to ANU from the Master of Marketing Management in Bocconi, Milan, was a huge change to me.
Back in Italy, my working day would start at 8 in the morning and finish after midnight. I had to attend many and long compulsory classes and work on different projects for big companies like Vodafone, Henkel or Nestlé. After this, I had to save some time to study for my individual exams. Therefore, every single moment was carefully scheduled and timed and this put incredible pressure on all of us students, who were living at an incredibly fast-piece, with barely time to eat and absolutely no time for to socialize. However, although competition was high, collaboration between teams were scarce and support from professors were minimum, we knew that we could not complain, as we were given great opportunities to build both experience and network for our future careers. Therefore, I would just resign to drinking a lot of coffee and pushing my body and mind through the toughest periods, carving out my personal time at dawn, when everyone else was still sleeping and my phone was silent.
Then I moved here. As the new semester approached, I was hit by the usual wave of fear for what was about to start. I was waiting for my routine to go wild again, but that never happened. Here, each course consists in one or maximum two classes of two hours per week, which leaves me with a lot of free time. Classes are interesting and interactive, and professors are incredibly friendly and available. In fact, most of them will be willing to set hours-long meetings in front of a coffee with students to discuss and help them with projects. They will also be flexible with course’s speed and deadlines to ensure building strong topic knowledge. Moreover, the projects themselves are different from the ones I was used to. Indeed, we work with small, local companies, establishing a much more direct and personal contact with the managers, who are often welcoming and easygoing, genuinely interested in our work. This allows us to get in touch with the real values and character of such companies, feeling part of them and therefore more easily uncovering important information to shape the project. Moreover, I now have longer time and larger ability to focus on these types of assignments, as I do not have final exams. Finally, the workload is equally divided throughout the semester and constant feedback is given to students, so that they can fix potential issues the moment that they arise.
Unfortunately, campus infrastructure is not as good as it was in Bocconi. You can tell that from the study buildings lacking computer charging stations or sometimes lighting; from the locations of the bathrooms and heaters; from campus shops closing at 17.30 and bars closing at 21:00 and on weekends. Moreover, there are often delays and you may receive different answers to the same question, if you ask to different front people. For these reasons, I sometimes miss Bocconi’s order and brand new, modern and perfectly functioning buildings or its lively neighborhood.
However, I came to accept and like the ANU campus for its spontaneity and naturalness. In fact, not everything is perfect, nor quick or smart, here, but no one requests you to be fast-paced either, making the place totally livable. I would say that human relations are prioritized here.
This new, different and unexpected environment has caused my life to slow down a lot. As a result, I am now happier, healthier and more relaxed and I feel that my ability of reasoning is improving. In fact, I am finally enjoying my studies, digging deeper and freeing my personal curiosity and interest, focusing more on the journey rather than on the destination. As a consequence, the quality of my assignments and the team environments are improving as well.
Indeed, I no longer need to wake up at dawn but can have regular sleep and still accomplish all of my daily tasks, that are no longer only related to university, but also to my personal interests. Therefore, I often go to the gym (there are two on campus that can satisfy all needs) and I participate to as many campus or accommodation events as possible, which allow me to create and cultivate new and precious friendships.
Finally, I am still drinking coffee, but I now do it because I like it, and not because I need it. Besides, Australian coffee is the best non-Italian coffee that I have ever had, and the campus is filled with small and nice cafes which I love to visit between classes and that are perfect for studying, either alone or in group.
Overall, I believe the ANU campus to reflect the Australian relaxed and empathetic personality, which may be very different compared to some occidental cultures, but also very beneficial and enriching, once you learn to understand it, accept it and experience it to the fullest.