Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends

Australia's "Beautiful Balance" Shapes Her Work-Life Philosophy: A Study Abroad Travelogue

Linda Phiri ’16 describes immersing herself in the history and culture of invigorating Sydney, Australia, in 2015, as part of a series marking the 60th anniversary of Study Abroad at Brandeis.

  • Linda Phiri at a mountain lookout in Australia
    Linda Phiri ’16 at the landmark Three Sisters hike in New South Wales, Australia.
  • Linda Phiri smiling while standing next to an Australian Open sign at Melbourne Park.
    Phiri made a point to visit Melbourne Park, home of the Australia Open, where one of her heroes, Serena Williams, won numerous titles.
  • Linda Phiri looks out at Bondi beach.
    Phiri looking out over the famous Bondi Beach in Sydney.
  • Linda Phiri walks by colorful graffiti filled walls in Newtown, Australia
    Phiri explored the eclectic Newtown neighborhood in Sydney. 

As an international student who was already technically abroad while at Brandeis, I wanted to go to a place the furthest away from any place I’d ever been before. My parents lived in Brazil at the time, which had been another dream of mine, but then I needed a new one. So Australia it was. I had always been curious about it. Being at BU Sydney taught me two important lessons.

I got balance in my physical, mental and spiritual health while there. Australia is a society that prizes hard work and relaxation in equal measure. I had never been healthier. I jogged around the University of Sydney campus almost daily with my house-mate. At BU Sydney we got the opportunity to intern and I was assigned to a law firm. I was encouraged by my supervisor to get to know others, take on responsibility, but also live well too. I also remember the team taking me out for lunch for my birthday only after knowing me for about a month. I take celebrating birthdays seriously, so that immediately made me feel more at home.

I remember writing a paper about the cultural differences of work and I concluded that Australia had the best of both worlds. The beautiful balance in Australia shapes my work-life philosophy until this day. While there, I also got an onset of understanding more about how racial inequality permeates the globe, as I learned about the genocidal foundation of the country and its modern-day impact. I didn’t know it then, but four years later, this is one of the areas my PhD research focuses on. After working in Thessaloniki, Greece as an Anatolia College Fellow, and then receiving a master of philosophy degree from the University of Cambridge, I am now pursuing a doctorate in justice, law and criminology at American University. 

Favorite memory: Setting my feet on Melbourne Park. I got to play a tennis match on the court, waltz around the dressing rooms and pretend to be interviewed in the newsroom. As a little girl who looked up to -- and still does look up to -- Serena Williams, my heart soared when I entered the hall of fame and saw her dominating the walls, win after win, in a field where she had been the victim of racism. I may not be a professional tennis player, but there is something about seeing yourself represented in such a way. Also, my mum is an avid tennis fan and would have lost it if I didn’t go there. We always joke that she would disown my sisters and me if it meant meeting Serena Williams! 

Craziest travel story: I got lost on my second night in Sydney. I was tired and didn’t want to go out after the boat ride at the harbor and opera house viewing. Me being my determined self, without a phone at that time, I was told the directions and began walking there. I was lost for about three hours and the embarrassing thing is that after I got accustomed to the area, I realized that I was possibly just a 30 minute- or less walk away. 

Haven’t gone back yet, but I can’t wait to! And this time, hopefully I will not get lost!

Read more stories from 60 years of Brandeis Study Abroad and browse the album