Elena Balcaite

Elena Balcaite began a PhD in Arts and Humanities at the University of Melbourne in February 2015

Elena exploring Sydney during a weekend trip.

"Having done an MSc by Research at the University of Gloucestershire, I knew I wanted to pursue my research further and embark on a PhD. I also wanted a change of scenery, and Australia was always on my radar. Having come across and contacted Study Options was helpful in deciding whether to pursue an option of studying Down Under as the advice I was given from the very start was informative and always tailored to my needs. Australian universities appealed to me due to high quality research and an open scholarship system for Higher Research Degree students, which meant that I could apply for a scholarship with my own research proposal. However, finding the right supervisor who could support and guide me through a PhD process was really important to me.  And in that I was fortunate that my now supervisor, whose work I came across when writing up my Masters thesis, found my proposal interesting and agreed to supervise my PhD. The application process, in hindsight, seems pretty straightforward, finding a supervisor was the most complicated part of it since, as with waiting to hear about the outcome of your application, it largely isn’t under your control. However, once that was out of the way, it all seemed to fall into place, and the possibility of studying in Melbourne seemed like a great option considering the University, supervision arrangements, and the location."

"Melbourne is great for food, culture, and sport, which is brilliant for me as I'm researching sports fans. There's always something to do here even if it's something as simple as grabbing a coffee at a quirky cafe, doing your weekly shopping at one of the many Melbourne markets or dining out in one of the many fantastic but affordable restaurants. Melbourne is a vibrant and multicultural city, and while perhaps it's not as sunny as other parts of Australia, it is full of surprises and small pockets of beauty, and it is quite simply great to live in."

"The University of Melbourne is right at the centre of the city's life. It is a big university which doesn't only mean that you can find everything you need on campus but also that there are plenty of public lectures, workshops, and events to attend or get involved in. As a research student I have access to many areas designated to quiet study for research students only and even have my own desk. Settling in was easy as staff are helpful, fellow students are friendly, and there were orientation sessions at the start of the term to guide us through the most important steps of a research degree at Melbourne Uni."

"The service (though I don’t like to call it a ‘service’ as I didn't have to pay for anything) I received from Study Options was always helpful, friendly, and professional. Obviously, there are still things that you have to do yourself, such as looking for a prospective supervisor or getting your stuff shipped across the world, but if there are things that Study Options can’t directly assist you with or do it for you, then they can certainly advise you on them - and that's great to have on your side when you are moving across the globe!"