JCU: Insights Into the World

By Charlene Tan

Twenty-one-year-old Francesca Fiorendi has lived in Italy, France and Holland, and has now made Singapore her home. With parents who travelled frequently for work, she was exposed to the wonders of travel from a young age. Hence, her enthusiasm for the tourism industry comes as no surprise.

In October 2007, she enrolled with James Cook University Australia, Singapore Campus to study Business and Tourism & Hospitality Management. “I think that studying in an Australian university is a good way to complement theory with the living experience in Singapore, especially in a subject like Tourism. Plus, making friends from different backgrounds when we do group work is a great chance to see things from a different perspective than, say, if you were in a local university,” explains Francesca of her choice to study at the Singapore campus.

The university, which is well-known in Australia for its courses in Tourism, Psychology and Environmental Research, came to Singapore’s shores six years ago. The lush greenery which surrounds the campus, breezy open spaces, and plush student lounge provides a conducive environment for students to discuss ideas and hone their skills to meet a wide range of challenges in the corporate world.

Learning comes alive
The curriculum at the Singapore campus is research-intensive and uses textbooks written by JCU’s academic faculty, which boasts half of Australia’s top-ranking tourism researchers worldwide and accolades in the field of research. In the international arena, the school ranks first for having its tourism research findings published in journals.

“In our curriculum, you don’t find old information. Our learning material is always current and relevant, including current affairs like the financial crisis. Sometimes, we find outdated stuff even when we research online or in books, but this doesn’t happen on campus,” says Francesca. “Furthermore, the teachers are very approachable. It’s a wonderful learning experience.”

The school has three intakes per year and each term runs for about 12 weeks, with breaks in between. Francesca has brought her learning beyond the classroom by taking opportunities to tour the region during these two- to three-week term breaks.

“This part of the world is new to me and I enjoy travelling. I’ve been to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. I like Bangkok and Hong Kong for the shopping,” she says with a laugh, “and China too, because of the history that is overwhelming and so rich.”

Going further with James Cook
Francesca’s positive experience at James Cook’s Singapore campus has inspired her to further her studies there. Since June, she has embarked on a master’s degree in International Tourism & Hospitality Management. The year-long master’s programme will create more opportunities for her to learn from the school’s top scholars who regularly fly in from Australia to teach.

After three years in Singapore, Francesca believes this will be “home” for her next phase in life after graduating in 2010. “Hopefully I’ll be working in the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions & Exhibitions (MICE) sector of tourism. I’m sure my current curriculum will help equip me with skills for the future,” she says with confidence.

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