Hello everyone, my name is Rebecca Bencivenni. I am an International Student Ambassador, and this is the story of my journey. Enjoy!
“I’m studying at Arts Management at WAAPA.”
I believe I’ve repeated this sentence at least a thousand times over the past year, whether it’s in Italian, my native language or English, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that I’ve been proud to say that. Every. Single. Time.
After spending 9 months as an exchange student at a local Perth high school at the age of 16, I went back to Italy. I graduated from my Italian music specialised high school – and realised that I did not want to be a performer myself, but still wanted to contribute to the arts. That’s where the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) came in.
Doing some lazy net surfing, I found that in Australia there was the perfect course for me: a business degree where every single budget, project plan, marketing strategy and essay we write would be about the arts! Simply put: Bachelor of Arts Management. I fell in love with the idea almost immediately and the fact that it was offered in Perth was even better. I already knew the city from my previous exchange experience; I was familiar with the people and the culture. I could not wait to go back to the green buses with lovely drivers, smell the summery scent of eucalyptus and feel the ocean breeze once again.
In the beginning, going back to Perth was only an idea – a passing breeze. It eventually condensed into a cloud, thundering with dreams and aspirations whose lightning strikes gave me the power to work hard to make it all come true. After tackling English tests, visas, insurance, saving money, flights and mental health issues, I finally took off.
Everything was going great. I was living as an au pair, I started volunteering for some arts organisations and I also got accepted into a selective choir.
After a few weeks, university started and I finally got to meet my 30 classmates, my skilful lecturers and the most exuberant cohort of artists I have ever seen. WAAPA is part of Edith Cowan University (ECU) and the two bodies perfectly complement each other. On one hand, ECU is academic, precise and theoretical – while WAAPA on the other hand is practical, creative and performative. I felt supported and spurred on to improve my skills, knowledge and expertise of my study field.
Unfortunately, everything changed disruptively around week 3. All of a sudden, I was having lectures online while rescheduling my life in Perth and juggling fatigue, uncertainty and homesickness. Semester 1 of uni was definitely my greatest challenge. However, I received financial help from ECU and was supported by my lovely lecturers, which helped me to keep my passion for Arts Management ignited and end my semester with High Distinctions! Looking back, my first semester was a baptism of fire, but the achievements I got at the end were huge.
In Semester 2, everything went back to normal. I literally went wild with all the initiatives I signed up for. There are many things I love about Perth, but being able to have opportunities pop up around every corner is what gave me the possibility to become a StudyPerth International Student Ambassador, usher for theatre companies, volunteer at a world class museum and get a job in a fine dining restaurant.
Now, I am in my second year and I haven’t changed my mind about Perth and my studies. I still go to class super excited about what I am going to learn, proactively seek opportunities all the time and never get tired of telling people how much I love this sunny city.
Even now, as I write this blog in my new room in student accommodation right in the city centre, I remain grateful. Whatever the future brings me, it will be thanks to Perth that I have the right mindset, expertise and skills to tackle every challenge and succeed in my career in the arts.