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Carmen Bittner (Germany)

1. Why did you choose to study at JCU? 

First of all, I believe that the location is everything. You are choosing your home for the next section of your life. A place where you will make friends, find a job and build your life, away from home, on the other side of the world.  

In far north Queensland you really have the best of everything: the friendliest people, beautiful nature and although you live in a city, you still have the small-town vibe, with a strong community. You are close to one of the seven world wonders, the Great Barrier Reef, that is waiting for you to explore. With all of these options, you are able to balance your work- and study load with a unique life; socialising and going on adventures.  

James Cook University has got a fantastic reputation, and was the best place to start my Bachelor of Nursing Science [Pre-registration] the moment you step foot on campus and meet your fellow students, tutors and passionate lecturers, as well as all the other helpful staff, you realise where that reputation comes from. You are able to walk into the rainforest on your lunch break, watch the creek change throughout the seasons or even throughout a day of heavy rains, the wildlife, with for example the two monitor lizards, is unique and every department is happy to give you some insights on their behind the scenes.

From a community garden, turtle rehabilitation, to simulation rooms for medical professions and a creative lab where indoor plants and 3D printers charm you with the modern and progressive character. And amongst all of that, the reason why I decided to study at JCU is because of the various placement options, all throughout Queensland and in remote areas. Because of the University’s collaboration with various clinics and organisations, you will be able to make connections and build the foundation for your future career, while you are still learning.

2. What has been the highlight of your study experience so far? 

I am very impressed by the integration of the culture and history of this land and its original owners, in every event. As well as I am delighted about the large variety of activities, projects, programs and facilities that are available for students. We have access to free study group services with students who previously passed the subject with high distinction, you get access to Office 360 and Microsoft one drive, receive an introduction to the website, researching resources, advice about student support services and tips on how to make the most of your degree.

Carmen Bittner making friends with the locals in Cairns!

Carmen Bittner making friends with the locals in Cairns!

3. What has been your most memorable moment at JCU?

It is refreshing to find the curiosity and interest in every student on campus. We are all here because we want to learn and not because we must. And that willingness to learn reflects in everyone’s engagement and openness.

JCU is very engaged in making a difference and working towards more sustainable choices. You find advice on recycling and disposing of your waste properly, receive discounts when you bring your own reusable coffee cup, can plant your own food and maintain your own garden bed in the university gardens, have a no-straw policy, so better bring your own or receive one during orientation week.

4. What are your career goals? 

Long term I am aiming to find a job that allows me to travel and help people in remote areas. Combining my passion for the ocean with my dedication to helping others. A nursing career can take you down so many different pathways: working on hospital ships like for example YWAM and providing care to those who otherwise would not have access to an equally high level of health care. Or assisting refugees in critical situations whilst on their way to a better life, flying into the outback or to islands and boats with medical incidents far from any facilities. To then one day work on a vessel with those who are installing wind power plants for a greener future. Who knows, maybe I will be supporting a research team when the next David Attenborough discovers a new species researching the depths of the ocean on the Mariana Trench. 

There are so many beautiful options of where this career can take me, and I am excited to see what awaits me after completing my degree. But for now, I am enjoying the journey to getting ready for the profession all these opportunities that will open up eventually.

Carmen Bittner scuba diving.

Carmen Bittner enjoys her surroundings and diving on the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Cairns.

5. What advice do you have for prospective students considering JCU? 

I would highly recommend you explore Cairns before the semester even commences. Make friends and find a stable network that can support you. And once you have spent some time in the rainforest and ocean, built yourself a healthy routine, balancing life and work, then replace work with studying. And treat Uni like a full-time job. Get ready in the mornings, even while studying at home. Keep up good habits and hobbies, to give you room to vent and clear your mind.

Also, don’t be afraid to say no to shifts and friends once your degree starts. Time management can be difficult at times but your course should be your priority. Prepare your friends and family for the potential absence during more intense study times.

And once you signed up for your course I would like to recommend you go to the orientation week. To meet the ones you will be surrounded by for the next few years and learn about how to prepare for your classes using the online portal. You will get introduced to many learning aids and resources, that are available to you online and on campus.