As an international student, Rosa Ling (凌星桐) came to study at the UTS Animal Logic Academy from China. Since completing her studies she has gone on to work at studios such as Plastic Wax and Fin Design.

What made you want to study the Master of Animation and Visualisation?

After completing my Bachelor of Product Design I wanted to experience something new. My tutor recommended I check out the Master of Animation and Visualisation (MAV) at the University of Technology in Sydney. He handed me a brochure about the Animal Logic Academy (ALA) and it really spoke to me. I got very excited about all the hi-tech and amazing magic that’s created at the Academy. Coming straight out of my undergraduate course and not having a great understanding of animation production, I wanted to get the whole studio experience and learn how the ‘magic’ I saw was created.

What was your experience like as an international student?

Personally, it was difficult. But it got better!

It took some time to understand English to the same level as a native speaker. Initially, coming to Australia I needed to translate every single word into Chinese in my head. That process lasted for about 2 years, and even now I still need to put some effort when translating high levels of English. It was exhausting! The translation process got faster and easier as I constantly talked to English speakers, but even that part was challenging for me. I had to be very brave to talk to my classmates and tutors. There were countless situations where I was too afraid to ask my tutors something just because I was worried they may not understand me and I’d feel extremely awkward while talking to them with my Chinese accent and broken English.

I would join my Australian classmates for lunch or social events after university and I wouldn’t understand what they were talking about during their conversations. There were so many slang words that I didn’t know, which was stopping me from understanding them. If people were talking to someone else, I was too afraid to stop them and ask, “Hey, what does that word mean?”. I didn’t start to express myself and start asking for clarification until a few years after commencing studying in Australia.

Starting the Masters course, I accepted the fact that I’m a foreigner. But most people I would speak to actually wouldn’t mind explaining words and sentences to me. I also had the feeling that if I was in China, I would be also be happy to explain things to friends who were learning the language.

I came to Australia by myself when I was 18. I had no relatives that I could get help living in Australia. During the festive seasons in my home country (especially during Lunar New Year) and when I would encounter some difficulties I would get very homesick. I would miss my family a lot.

All the hardships that I mentioned above shaped me into a much better person than I would have become if I had attended university in my home country. It was quite hard while I was experiencing those tough situations, but they all led to something good.

How did your study at ALA vary from your previous study experiences?

I enjoyed the amount of self-learning there was at the Academy, to teach yourself and learn through others to gain knowledge. But also the studio Leads always gave you immediate feedback on your work. This helped me improve my skills super fast, and also made sure that I was on the right track while working on tasks. Being new to most departments, I would also ask my peers who were in the same department as me for a lot of help as well.

There were industry speakers that would come into the studio for talks. We had test interviews and reviews for our showreel and CV to give us the best chance of getting hired in industry. The MAV is just like a real-world working environment. I didn’t feel like I was studying at a university. These were some great differences that I can compare to my previous experiences.

What were the most positive experiences in the MAV?

I was interested in FX and decided to be a part of the FX department and learn Houdini from scratch. There are so many terminologies in Houdini, and because of the language barrier it was a slow learning process. It was very hard to understand the tutorials that I was learning from. I mentioned this to my FX Lead and he understood me instantly and offered so many individual teaching sessions to help me out.

All of the teaching staff are very responsive and everyone is so patient. If you don’t understand something, they explain things until you understand. If you need any type of assistance everyone tries their best to help you.

ALA felt like a big family. We studied together, worked together and went to have a drink every Friday night to chill and gossip. You will not feel alone on the way to chasing your dreams or achieving your goals. Everyone is with you, everyone is there to help and support you.

How was the transition from studying to work?

I had many visa related issues I had to prioritise before finding work. By the end of the MAV I had a nice showreel and CV but limited experience. It took a few weeks of messaging, networking on LinkedIn and applying to different companies before I picked up a short-term FX job. Once this FX job finished, it took me another 3 months of networking until I received an offer for a role after a conversation with a producer on LinkedIn. I accepted the offer to learn the industry more while having a long-term job. “Step your foot in the door before being picky about your role”, I kept my Leads’ advice in mind.

What advice would you offer other international students?


  • If you feel like your mental health is not in a good place, please don’t hesitate to ask for help. It’s not shameful to access mental health services. Also, talking to psychologists that speak your first language might help a lot more to understand all your struggles and feelings.
  • Manage your time carefully, one year flies by.


  • Talk to your visa agent at the start of the course to ask about all the conditions of applying for a Temporary Graduate Visa [Subclass 485]. If you have completed an undergraduate course in Australia as well as the MAV and will have studied for 2 years you may be eligible.
  • If you plan to work in Australia (working under a post-study visa [subclass 485]) I’d strongly recommend starting to prepare for and pass an English proficiency test before the course starts. There will not be enough time during your studies to focus on this test. Be sure to do your research about the passing score of the proficiency test for your working visa.
  • Speak to the HR department of the company that is interested in hiring you and mention that post-study work rights for international graduates with a 485 are currently being extended.


  • Don’t isolate yourself from your peers. Connections are one of the most important parts of this industry. I know many people that got full-time and freelance work just from their close connections.
  • Try to join the local student social activities when you have some time off. Don’t only stick to friends that are from your home countries. That will not help you to improve your English.
  • But making some friends from your home countries will help with your homesickness to some extent. You can celebrate traditional festivals together.
  • Don’t be shy to make local friends, they’re more friendly than you might imagine. You can even teach someone who is interested in learning your language and ask them to swap. Ask that person to help you to improve your English, such as improving your grammar or teaching you new words and slang.
  • Don’t over-socialise, you need some time for improving your professional skills.
  • Don’t play too many games, you might regret not trying hard enough to improve your skills when you had time, especially when you can’t find a job after a few months.


  • Do not be shy to ask for help. When you’re stuck while doing your task, if you can’t do it after 30 mins of research, please ask your peers for help. If your peers also don’t know the answer, ask your Leads.
  • The self-learning Fridays at the Academy are very important. Please treat them seriously. There is a lot of potential to learn from others or learn skills that can help you find the job you want after graduation.
  • During ALA, think about what department and role you want to do as your future full-time job. Then do some research about some companies that you really want to join.
  • Prepare some questions for the test interview in Studio 3. Think about what questions you should ask your Leads throughout the year.
  • Example questions:
    • Which animation or visual effects studios would you suggest I apply to and what roles are suitable for my skill level?
    • What should I do to prepare myself to enter a specific studio? Anything I need to pay attention to specifically?
    • What aspect should I improve in terms of my skills?
    • What should I improve on overall?
  • Push yourself beyond your comfort zone during this 1 year course. Every 3 months design a learning plan and set a milestone goal. After you achieve it, step to the next stage. Try to improve your professional skills as much as possible. You have access to the best learning resources in the MAV: A powerful workstation; very professional and experienced Leads; a wonderful learning/working environment, etc. This is the time you can just focus on learning. If you don’t know what tasks you should do next to improve your skill sets, ask your Leads for some advice. You can even show them your learning plans and goals to see if it’s suitable for your career path.


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