From Melbourne in Australia to VIA in Horsens
Charmaine Pearl Ferguson was actually studying Building Design and Technology in Melbourne but during a backpacking trip in Europe, she discovered that she wanted to try to study a semester at VIA in Horsens. One semester turned into several and a completed education has now been converted into a job at VIA.
A bit of a coincidence
It all started out as a bit of a coincidence. Charmaine had taken a leave of absence from her studies at University Gordo Tafe near Melbourne and were on her way around Europe with a fully packed backpack. She was so happy about this that she did not really want to go home. Therefore, she contacted her university to inquire if they had any partnerships with an institution of higher education in Europe, where she could continue her studies. And they did – with VIA University College. All of the sudden, Charmaine had the possibility to study Architectural Technology and Construction Management at VIA Campus Horsens. And to this, she answered yes.
Good quality of life
Charmaine: ”It was of course a bit of a radical change to come to Denmark, but Australians and Danes are actually not so different. On the one hand, Danes are more relaxed and complain more about the weather than they do in Australia. On the other hand, Danes are really good at enjoying the weather when it is nice. It is as if everyone ‘wakes up’. In Denmark, the quality of life is good and they are very aware of creating a nice balance between work life and private life. But at the same time, Danes are academically proud and focus is on doing a good job”.
To begin with, Charmaine studied one semester at VIA and afterwards returned to Australia, where she studied for one year. But she was so happy about studying at VIA (and she had met her boyfriend in Horsens) that she returned and completed her studies at VIA Campus Horsens.
Lectures and practical work
In February 2012, Charmaine became Bachelor of Architectural Technology and Construction Management. And almost straight after she finished her studies, Charmaine began to teach at the Civil Engineering programme. After the autumn, she was affiliated with VIA Campus Horsens full-time, where she were to teach courses such as BIM (Building Information Modelling) and Revit (a drawing programme) at both the Civil Engineering and Architectural Technology and Construction Management programme. At the same time, she was affiliated with an engineering firm a couple of hours a week in order to receive practical experience from a Danish company.
The climate has a large influence
”It is a good combination that I have educated myself in both Denmark and Australia as this means that I have been introduced to many different ways of constructing and project planning. The climate of course requires that there are different considerations which must be regarded in the construction process. In Denmark for example, they focus on isolation as the weather tends to be cold” Charmaine explains and continues: “I have been an intern at the architectural firm Schmidt, Hammer og Lassen, and there I learned a lot about which considerations must be regarded when constructing in Denmark. But many houses in Australia would benefit from better isolation. It could help keep the cold inside during the summer and the heat inside those months, where it is necessary to heat the houses”.
Elite basketball player
Besides the studies at VIA, Charmaine has also maintained a career at the first team at Horsens Basket. It has required a lot of hard training three days a week and matches during the weekend but now it is over, Charmaine: “I am really looking forward to having some spare time without any basketball obligations, because I look forward to travelling a lot more around Denmark than what I have done previously. All in all, I really look forward to travelling – it is much, much easier to travel to new, foreign countries from here in Denmark than from Australia”.
House renovation and perhaps own firm
Charmaine has recently bought a house in Horsens along with her boyfriend and has already begun renovating it: ”We of course have a budget to work by but we try to make the house as energy-friendly as possible. It is an exciting process, and it is fun for me to try out some of my many academic theories in practice on my very own house. And I would also like to once start up my own firm that would work with energy-friendly houses and passive houses. It is my dream”.