From Brazil to Bondi: Finding a rewarding career path in counselling

What's it like studying Counselling? | Torrens University

Meet Rubens Abreu, a passionate Bachelor of Social Sciences (Counselling) student all the way from Brazil. He is current studying at our Pyrmont Campus in Sydney, Australia.


What motivated you to study Counselling? Did you have any prior experience in the industry?

When I moved to Australia, I got in touch with the self-development industry and I started reading books which led me to one of my main passions, which is learning from great minds that are changing the world and are impacting others in a positive way. Eventually, because of this self-interest, I decided to get into Counselling in order to add to my journey of becoming the best version of myself, through this way I can help others.

What were you doing before you started studying?

I started studying English in 2014 and was working as a dishwasher cleaner at Bondi Icebergs, after that I worked as a waiter, Educational Consultant and Brand Ambassador, plus I was studying a sports coaching course. Later on, I started a Diploma in Leadership and Management which focused on Entrepreneurship. However, I felt that something was missing, I needed to find a course that would align with my internal ambitions. This has massively influenced my decision to study a degree in Counselling and start with Torrens University Australia.

What attracted you to this type of career?

The fact that this career will guide me to help other individuals in need, but firstly, help me get into a place where I have the right mindset, experience and self-care, so I am able to contribute to society. First, we need to help ourselves so we can help other people.

“We need to be able to help ourselves so we can help other people.”

From Brazil to Bondi: Finding a rewarding career path in counselling

Tell us about the very moment you decided to enrol, how did you feel? What was at stake?

I was working as an Educational Consultant for a Brazilian student agency at that time, my visa was about to end and I was not sure what I was going to do. I was not 100% happy with the job I had then and I learned that office environment is just not for me. I realised that I would not be able to raise that much money to apply for a student visa and also pay for the first University fees. However, with hard work, my passion, and with the help of others, I managed to get a scholarship and I worked very hard for the next 2-3 months to get the money I needed to apply for the visa. I went from feeling frustrated and worried to excited and amazingly happy with hope for even better achievements.

What is it like studying at the university?

I love the class environment which allows us to debate over a topic and experience the social atmosphere that the University provides, with students from Australia and other parts of the world. I love getting in touch with new students and old friends.

Can you share some interesting things you’ve learnt so far?

I am really enjoying the 3 subjects that I am doing at the moment, which are: Relationship Therapy, Mental Health and Community, and working with Addiction Populations. And one of my favourite Assessments was where I got to work around the idea that once we understand that we are in charge of the way we feel and react to events in our life, we can control anything. If we want to change something that is not working, we can change, if we are unhappy, we can feel happy, if we are struggling, it means we are growing. It is all about reframing our mindset so we can take charge of our lives, rather than giving the responsibility to external factors because this way we are powerless.

“Once we understand that we are in charge of the way we feel and react to events in our life, we can control anything.”

What has been your favourite experience while studying this course? 

My favourite experience is being able to surround myself with like-minded people. I found this through books, University and life, and it gets me thinking in a better way, to work on solutions rather than focus on the problem.
When I started my course, I was really worried about money, and how I would keep paying for the University fees myself when work is limited. I reached out to the Success Coach, Will Boney for some guidance. Just by talking about my worries, it showed me that I can do it. I got used to organising myself and planning to have the necessary finances to pay for all that is needed. I am grateful I have asked for help and had the chance to talk about it.

From Brazil to Bondi: Finding a rewarding career path in counselling

What do you love most about your studies? 

I love so many things about the university: the teachers are so highly skilled and experienced, the location – it is so easy to get to campus, and Sydney feels like home now. It always gets me thinking how lucky I am to live in such an extraordinary city with such a high level of mixed cultures. I love that the classes are smaller than the conventional big Universities, it opens a space for discussion and to better connect with other students and lecturers, plus the food at the Pyrmont cafe is delicious!

“I love that the classes are smaller than conventional big Universities, it opens the space for discussion and allows for the opportunity connect with other students and lecturers.”

Was there a subject that really challenged you?

The subject Health and Wellbeing showed me how little we know about aboriginal community history, its current situation, and how much harm it was done to them to lead to the many problems that they face today. I am studying Mental Health, understanding how big of a challenge it is and also how little we know about it. I look forward to learning more about this and seeing how I can make a difference.

What was the best piece of career (or life) advice that you received?

A few quotes I live by:

  • Be humble, be kind, and be grateful.
  • Be the change you want to see in the world.
  • If you fear (false evidence appearing real), you must do.
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What are some of the achievements you are most proud of?

At my first job, I was washing dishes at a restaurant with no English. Now I work as a model/actor and do some more casual work. I am very proud of what I have achieved and how far I have come. To have my freedom to do what I want, and to achieve my dreams, without having to rely on other people. I never thought I was going to go to a University in Australia, never thought I would be working on big commercials, and so on, the list is endless, and this is only the beginning of a great journey.

“I never thought I would go to a University in Australia, never thought I would be working on big commercials… and this is only the beginning of a great journey.”

What are your hobbies?

My biggest hobby is reading, I am super passionate about learning from great minds. I buy at least one book a month and I enjoy listening to audiobooks, podcasts, interviews, biographies, or watch videos whenever I am on the go. This helps me to deepen my knowledge in all areas. I am very passionate about health and wellness, I constantly learn how to be in a better shape and have a better mental and physical performance. I am a Capoeira practitioner which is a Brazilian type of martial art that involves music, kicks and acrobatics. And last but not least, I love connecting with new people and getting to know them, I am that kind of guy that would make an effort to learn from others, always asking questions, seeking new ways to see the world, getting to know people is fuel for me as it is reading.

What advice would you give to someone looking to study this course?

Do your own research, come and visit the campus and get to know the teachers, talk to current and old students, read about the university, and if you can see what the industry is all about. Follow your curiosity and don’t worry about what others are doing, you are only competing against yourself.

If you want to learn more about studying Counselling stop by our Open Day on 21 April.

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