Australia is where I see my base, it’s where my life is! - Julie's story
How does a student from Denmark who didn’t finish high school, find herself being a year off becoming a lawyer, on the opposite side of the world? Through TAFE Queensland pathways, of course…
Julie had never felt like she fitted in, in Denmark. Raised in a small, quiet town in the mid-west of the country (her grandparents were farmers), at age 16 she knew she was missing out on ‘something’. Her mother felt the same, conceding that Julie was born in the “wrong country” for her personality.
The other side of the globe was calling.
“I came to Australia at 18 as a backpacker. Australia is the ultimate for Danish people – we love it. It’s hot – when it’s winter here, it’s like summer in Denmark, and it’s chill – relaxed. During my first time here – over one-and-a-half-months, I spent a lot of time in North Queensland, and then on the Gold Coast. I also spent some time visiting Papua New Guinea – with remote tribes. That was wild,” Julie began.
“I really just fell in love with Australia. The nature, the weather, and the people. I know it’s a cliché – but it is the people. I lost a little bit of my heart to it. Queensland especially, although the first time I came, I didn’t visit Brisbane. I then went back to Denmark and started making a life for myself in Copenhagen for a couple of years.
“It (Copenhagen) is very busy and concentrated – like Sydney. Brisbane is very chill compared to it. In Copenhagen there are more bikes than people, in summer it really comes alive, and it is very pretty with rivers running through it. So, when I left my job to come to Australia again, people questioned me. They were saying ‘Why leave what you have built for yourself here – you are in with good crowds here?’ but something wasn’t entirely right for me being there. Something was still missing,” shared Julie.
During Julie’s backpacking time she lived, as she put it, “on cloud-9”. She wanted to return to Australia to see if she would still love it whilst having a normal life. So, Julie came back through a working holiday visa – and moved to the Sunshine Coast first.
“I took my time when I arrived – I had some finances to allow me to settle in properly, and soon I got a full-time job there, and worked for five months. I loved it. Then I moved down to Brisbane and was working in hospitality. As my year eventually came to an end, I had to go back to Denmark, and work out how I was going to come back here again,” said Julie.
Back at home Julie reached out to one of the agencies as to how she could make her way back to Australia, and whether there’d be opportunities for her to go to university here, given she hadn’t finished high school.
And, after three months Julie was back on a plane, en-route to Australia. She was incredibly excited as she’d been missing her best friend in Australia, and the agent had identified TAFE Queensland’s pathway, that would get Julie into university – her ultimate goal; Julie was going to study a Diploma of Event Management (SIT50316) at TAFE Queensland as an international student.
OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH TAFE
“I was studying at the TAFE Queensland Southbank campus in Brisbane and found out about the Brisbane International Student Ambassador program. I applied for it, and when I got it – I cheered. I was the only representative from TAFE Queensland within that year’s cohort, so I was a bit of an ambassador for TAFE too, and I got sworn in at City Hall by Brisbane’s Mayor. With this ambassador role, which saw me travel a lot, attend conferences, I then joined CISA – a volunteer-run advocacy group for international students and partnered TAFE Queensland with this body. During my time we lobbied to remove the cap on hours international students could work in Australia when COVID-19 happened,” beamed Julie.
“When I finished my Diploma of Event Management (SIT50316), I knew I still wanted to go to university, and applied to one of the major universities in Queensland. Unfortunately, despite constant campaigning from TAFE Queensland and my agent, their (the University’s) business faculty had closed its doors to students with diplomas from ‘outside’ the university, only a few months before, and they weren’t going to change,” Julie shared.
“Knowing this, Marty, a manager at TAFE Queensland International, relayed my story to another university – Queensland University of Technology, and they accepted me straight away – a Bachelor of Business – majoring in management and entrepreneurship. I received a year’s worth of credit too, because of my Diploma with TAFE Queensland.
MORE DOORS OPENING
“Later on, after completing my bachelor’s degree I decided to enrol in law through a Juris Doctor qualification, at BOND University on the Gold Coast. This appealed because I’ve always been about skill diversification – it’s important for the workforce these days. A friend had told me about the program, and it’s only two years. Law and business go hand-in-hand – a great foundation,” Julie offered.
Today, Julie is half-way through her Juris Doctor, and has her sights set on eventually working with victims of sexual violence crimes – something she’s very passionate about. “I also want to stay in Australia. I’m learning Australian law, and for the next 10 years this is where I see myself. Australia is where I see my base – it’s where my life is,” she said.
WORDS OF WISDOM
Julie, now living on the other side of the globe to her birth country, did not complete high school, and in one year will become a lawyer. If you’re wanting some encouraging words and advice as to how to create the same success – this is it:
“When you move to a different country, get to know the culture and work a bit before study. I also would not have been ready for university without my year at TAFE Queensland. It gets you experienced with education, without being scary. Then just do it – you’ll figure things out along the way. I think that’s probably my best advice.”
Check out all the podcast episodes here: My Study Journey.