Gabby studying outside on a yoga mat

Murdoch Uni: a home away from home

Gabby Ochtman, 20, Marine Science

A little about me

I grew up in Beverley, a small town in the Wheatbelt, and I travelled an hour and 20 minutes by bus every day to get to high school in Northam. I did enjoy my high school experience. Being at a small regional school made me feel like I was part of a community.

I moved to Perth when I was 18 to attend Murdoch and I now study Marine Science. I added a minor in nature-based tourism and plan to add another in Sustainability, Ecosystems and Community Development. I chose these minors as they will help me incorporate my passion for the ocean with my love for working with people.

How I knew what I wanted to study

I grew up on a farm two hours from the ocean and people often question how I got into studying marine science when I didn’t even live near the beach!

I was lucky enough to spend lots of time holidaying along the WA coast with my family and I developed a special appreciation for the ocean. It sparked my interest in studying everything ocean related: the way the weather affects it, the effect of pollutants, the seagrass meadows, and the range of organisms that call these waters home.

The more I learn at university, the more I can do in the future to help protect our oceans and educate others.

The social life at Murdoch

My social experience at Murdoch University has been awesome! I was surprised at the number of clubs and events. There's so much going on around campus and there’s something fun on every week.

I’ve met so many amazing people, which has been particularly important for me coming from a regional town and not knowing many people in the city. The best part about meeting people at Murdoch has been finding others with similar passions so we’ve been able to share some incredible experiences together.

What I love about Murdoch is the community feel. As a regional student, this made my transition to university so much easier.

How I’m managing study at home

I’m currently doing external study at my family’s farmhouse. Since moving back to Beverley, everything has been a major adjustment, but being with my family is making it that little bit easier.

For a proper study break, I believe you need to remove yourself from your usual study environment and do something completely different. I sometimes enjoy doing physical activities like going for a run or walk, yoga, or even gardening. Other times, my breaks are a little more relaxing.

Me time is also important. I might bake my favourite food, have a swim, or do a face mask. I try to balance studies, friends, and personal time, as this is will help keep me mentally healthy.

I’ve had lots of practical experience

During first year we spent lots of time in the Banksia Woodland Reserve close to Murdoch. Field experience has only been getting better as the course continues, with trips to Penguin Island and Ellis Brook Valley. Last year I attended an ecology camp in Albany, and earlier this year I attended a marine ecology camp at Point Peron. These were so much fun and we got lots of relevant hands-on experience, along with making many memories. I’m also looking forward to a research trip at Coral Bay hopefully later this year.

You don’t have to wait until your course is over. The knowledge I’ve gained already has allowed me to begin working in my field as a wildlife cruise tour guide.