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The ultimate CDU experience: Courtney's story

This article appears in: Business and Accounting, Learning abroad, Online study
Business student Courtney studies online

If university is a chocolate box, Courtney did her best to sample every flavour of CDU. She studied on campus when living in Darwin, studied online when interstate, studied abroad in Norway for the experience of a lifetime, and even picked up an internship as a student that helped her hit the ground running in her career.

Courtney didn’t take a direct path to higher education. After graduating high school, she chose to work and travel through Canada instead.  

“When I moved back to Australia I moved from my home to Darwin and began studying. I needed to challenge myself and stimulate my brain.”

Her co-workers at the time were all studying full-time and working part-time. “After hearing about what they were doing, I began to think about what I might want to learn,” she says.

Courtney applied to study a Bachelor of Business at Charles Darwin University.

I was living in Darwin at the time and the Waterfront campus looked super nice—modern and sleek—and I wanted the face-to-face uni experience.

Though she had contemplated studying nutrition, physiotherapy and even architecture, Courtney was attracted to the idea of a business degree because of its versatility.

“I chose business as it allowed me to keep my options open.”

To Bergen and back

Courtney decided to do an exchange later in her degree, a move that would become a major highlight of her university experience.

CDU made it work and I just did a semester abroad. I used my electives and studied at the University of Bergen (UiB), which is a really cute little city.

“I’m glad I did it—it was the most incredible experience,” she says.

“I lived with 15 other international students in a large, shared apartment. We went hiking and camping on weekends to admire the stunning fjords.”

She even played rugby union for the UiB team during the week.

“Because I was a student, the team flew me around Norway (all expenses paid!) to compete. It was such a great way to meet Norwegians, see Norway, and have fun.”

“One of the subjects I studied was the Norwegian language, so travelling with a team of Norwegians was a nice way to pick up some lingo and continue my learning outside the classroom.”

Staying connected on the move

Business student Courtney studies online

Courtney’s lived in a lot of places.

Originally from Worimi Country in NSW, she got the face-to-face uni experience she wanted in Darwin and a study abroad experience in Norway she’ll never forget.

But what happens when your partner works in Defence and needs to move interstate while you’re still finishing your degree?

It might be simple to switch from on-campus to online learning at CDU, as Courtney discovered, but she also knows how hard it can be to live away from your family and Country.

“Moving every few years and having to build new relationships and support systems was difficult—technology and FaceTime helped a lot,” she says.

She also goes back home as often as she can to reignite that connection to Country.

It’s my constant. It rebalances me every time I am home.

The internship that sparked a career

While studying in Darwin, Courtney picked up an internship with GHD through the CareerTrackers Indigenous Internship Program.

“The role I was doing at GHD was very flexible around my lectures, so I would often have lectures 8am-12pm, then work 12:30pm-5pm or vice versa."

"The best part was that it was only about 1km from the Darwin Waterfront campus to the office in Darwin City—such a nice walk too," she adds.

From strolling up to the GHD office after class to working online during COVID in Victoria and now face-to-face once more in the Sydney CBD, Courtney’s uni internship has turned into a fascinating career.

“I’m an Aboriginal community engagement consultant,” she says. “I work on some pretty interesting projects. Some of the projects I’m working on are to do with the planning and development for the future city in south west Sydney.”

No matter where her career takes her—or wherever she might move—Courtney will always take a little piece of her CDU study experience with her.

My CDU experience taught me how to think differently.

“That’s something I use every day at work.”

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