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I study occupational therapy: Wing Lai

28 September 2017
What it's like studying occupational therapy
We caught up with Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) student Wing Lai to find out why she chose to study OT, what her typical day looks like and her plans for a career as an occupational therapist.
Wing Lai

Why did you choose your degree?

I like biology and working with and helping people, so I thought occupational therapy would be a good mix of the two - although I only found out what it was shortly before applying! It wasn't until after I actually started my degree that I truly learnt what it was is about and developed a passion for it.

It felt surreal. I applied for a few universities across Australia but the course at the University of Sydney was the one I wanted to get in the most as it has the best ranking!

What does your typical day at uni look like?

Well I go to my classes and tutorials and during the breaks I hang out with my friends on different parts of campus like the library or the lounge area. If we get longer breaks sometimes my friends and I also drive to a café nearby to get lunch. My favourite class currently is OCCP2084 Occupational Performance Healthcare. It's about mental health which is really interesting.

What surprised you most about this degree?

You might have an idea about or experience with occupational therapy before but I feel like until you actually start learning, you won't realise how broad and at the same time how much depth this degree and occupational therapy has.

How does university compare to high school?

You get a lot more freedom, but with that also comes greater responsibility. You need to have a much higher ability in independent learning and great initiative to be responsible for your own learning. The University does provide a lot of support though, not just academically, but also socially. A lot of support is targeted for international students too which is super helpful.

What are your classmates like?

Super nice. There is a huge diversity of people not just ethnically but also just different personalities in general but we all get along very well. I've really enjoyed getting to know so many different people.

What are your lecturers like?

Each unit is slightly different depending on the lecturer but most of them are very interactive. It's not just the lecturer talking the whole time but they would ask you questions and you can engage in discussion with both the lecturer and other students. Sometimes there are fun activities too.

Have you been involved in anything outside the classroom?

I have been involved in a singing group organised and led by students, the 'Culture Swap' program in first year organised by the Occupational Therapy Student Liaison Adviser, and I have completed two placements so far - one rural one in Moree in a community based setting and another one in Hornsby Hospital.

What are your future career plans?

My plan is to stay and work in Australia after I graduate. I'm really interested in working in paediatrics, but after my last placement I have developed a passion for mental health as well so I need to do more placements in these areas to find out which one might suit me better.

Any advice for someone who is thinking about applying for the Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy)?

It is not an easy degree and you definitely need to work hard in it, but it is a very rewarding one especially if you have a heart and desire for working with and helping people and bringing out the best in everyone.