Whether it be the language of music or the national language of Myanmar, recent graduate Catia Rizio’s unique university experience embraced her passion for expression through language.
Catia has combined her two loves in a Bachelor of Asian Studies and a Bachelor of Music, which she graduated from on 12 December 2019.
“Studying this unusual combination of degrees has been an incredible experience. Every day was always quite different when I was on campus. I could go from learning about Burmese literary style language to learning about film music composition in the same afternoon.”
She says that contrary to what you might initially think, this unique combination of subject areas complement each other in unexpected ways.
“Many of my experiences in anthropology courses in my Asian Studies degree, became useful in my musicology studies. Studying music theory requires similar study habits to studying languages. Repetition, regular practice.”
Catia’s first taste of Myanmar was on a short trip in 2015, and she has been back every year since. Driven by the desire to learn more about Burmese culture and engage more with the country, she began studying Burmese at ANU in 2017.
As a student of Asian languages, Catia was awarded one of the prestigious New Colombo Plan Scholarships, which allowed her to deepen her engagement with Myanmar culture and language.
“The opportunity to spend a prolonged period of time in country was the most rewarding aspect of the scholarship. I stayed in Yangon for my entire scholarship, and being able to make friends, build networks and make a life there for myself was definitely the most rewarding component of the whole experience.”
The experience of living in-country allowed her to experience for herself all that she had read in the classroom in Canberra.
“Hearing from various experts whilst in country or speaking to how certain issues impact local people is something that cannot be replicated in a classroom environment.”
Not only did she experience student life at the University of Yangon, but she also participated in two internships whilst living in Yangon – the first with the Yangon Film School, and second with the UN Capital Development Fund.
Catia’s advocacy for Burmese language learning caught the attention of the Australian Embassy in Myanmar, and she had the opportunity to be interviewed by a local media channel on study, internships and her day-to-day life in Yangon.
“We spent an entire day filming around Yangon, including a ferry trip across the river to Dala and visiting tea shops, pagodas and more!”
Other highlights from her time at ANU include her involvement with student publication The Monsoon Project, where she worked closely with top academics and other students. She was also invited to attend the Global Summit for the Global Undergraduate Awards in Dublin in 2017 in recognition for her musicology research.
“Meeting a variety of students from across a variety of disciplines and hearing about their fantastic research was a real highlight.”
To students seeking a unique and adventurous university experience, Catia has this advice:
“Try and take advantage of the large amount of opportunities ANU offers as a part of your degree. Even if you feel they might be quite different from anything you have done before it is always good to try something new! “
Catia Rizio is currently in Taipei for three months as a Huayu Enrichment Scholarship recipient from the Taiwanese Ministry of Education. She is then planning to commence an Honours year at the ANU School of Music looking at music in Burmese migrant communities in Australia.
Watch Catia’s interview on Myanmar television for the Australian Embassy in Yangon here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X9qz3VSL4A&feature=youtu.be