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Study Overseas Alumni #12 – Jad Halimeh

Jad Halimeh studied a Bachelor of International Studies with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in History, as well as a Diploma of Languages in German. Jad completed two overseas programs with Study Overseas while he was at University – the first one an exchange to the College of William and Mary (USA) in 2016, and the second a winter school program to Aarhus University (Denmark) in 2017. Jad is currently working as a Graduate Policy Officer in the Private International and Commercial Law section of the Attorney-General’s Department in Canberra.

“As with most people who studied the same degrees as me, a goal of mine has always been to work in the Public Service. I’m definitely humbled to have been considered, and looking forward to many years with the Department. I’m also a soldier in the Australian Army Reserve, a role I’ve been in for around two years now and loving every second of!”

Jad has spent many years living overseas. He lived in Dubai from 2000-2003 while his parents worked as English teachers. From 2010-2014 he lived in Lebanon where he attended high school and became fluent in Arabic. “I’d say the biggest difference for me [between studying overseas and other travel] was that there was a sense of purpose to studying overseas. Not to say that going on holiday is useless, but when you go overseas for a certain amount of time, and you have to make the most of a University experience while also enjoying the country – it really leaves no time to get bored. On another level, when you live in a country (even just for a semester in my case), you get to experience a whole different side of the place you’re visiting. You become a resident, you get to know the ins and outs of things just like the locals. Definitely a great experience to learn from.”

 

On the highlights of his overseas study, Jad said “Playing for the college rugby team and travelling to different states to play games, spending Thanksgiving in Miami, living the typical American College life (yes, it really is like the movies!), meeting so many people that I’ve stayed in contact with all these years, learning how other people go about their lives. Honestly all of it. Also being in the USA while the 2016 Federal Election took place is definitely something I won’t ever forget.”

“I think it was a really good lesson in how to be resilient. Studying overseas is such a good experience, but it does bring with it its challenges. It’s life, things go wrong, and you have to deal with it in a different country, without the support systems you’re used to. I think that’s what I learned while away – how to persevere and make things work when you’re completely out of your comfort zone.”

“I still speak to so many friends I made while overseas. In fact, I’ve gone overseas a few times since 2016 and have made sure to meet up with those same friends each time. I even keep in touch with people I met on the short program!”

 

“Studying overseas definitely gave me an edge in presenting myself to prospective employers. Of course, as with any course of study at a tertiary level, you essentially get out of it what you put in, but the things learned while studying overseas are so useful even at face value. The fact that I had experienced life in other countries, dealt with difficult circumstances while completely out of my comfort zone, navigated Denmark without speaking a word of Danish – all these things showed that I could deal with difficult situations, that I could adapt to foreign environments, and persevere with resilience. Top tip for anyone who has been on exchange or is considering it – highlight these things in interviews! It really helps you stand out from other candidates.”

“A lot of the tasks some people (myself included) may think are useless at university are actually so helpful when working full time. I never thought learning how to write policy briefs or being told to read 100 pages a night would be beneficial to the ‘real world’. In reality, that’s basically what I do. To anyone reading: don’t neglect your assignments! There’s more to come in the real world.”

 

In the next six months, Jad hopes to be accepted to study the Juris Doctor degree at the Australian National University: “My Lebanon days were definitely the most formative and solidified my determination to come back to Australia and work in service of all Australians.”

He hopes to do the best he can in his rotations throughout the Department and have fun at the same time. He is also trying to read two books per month and hopes to accomplish this.

When we asked Jad where he hopes to visit next, he said “Adelaide! I took advantage of living in Adelaide, and I never thought I’d miss it as much as I do now. I absolutely cannot wait to visit for my graduation in a couple of months.”

 

“There are so many people who study a Bachelor of International Studies with a Bachelor of Arts. In my cohort there were hundreds of people who studied the same degrees with grades as acceptable as mine. Having a couple of overseas experiences under my belt definitely gave me the competitive edge I needed to get into the workforce. Of course, I’m not saying that is the only way to get a job, but it worked very well for me. The overseas experiences I’ve been on have been so useful professionally, and I’ve made lifelong friends. I would recommend an overseas program to absolutely anyone considering it.”

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