Connected Conversations | Elise Przytula

After a whirlwind adventure working on a Disney Cruise ship, Elise Przytula sailed back to her hometown of Adelaide four years ago. Now, instead of helping Captain Hook find his hook, doing the Macarena with Goofy, and washing Mickey Mouse’s underwear, Elise is busy visiting high schools, organising OSCE practical exams, and chasing after her 18-month-old daughter, Aubrey. Meanwhile, she's also working towards completing her '40 countries before turning 40' list, collecting headstand photos in front of the world's famous landmarks along the way.

Elise Przytula

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Hi, my name is Elise! I’m a born and raised Adelaide girl who spent around six years living overseas before settling back here in 2017. I spend my working hours in the Helen Mayo North building and, a few nights a week, I’m a calisthenics coach.  The rest of my time is spent entertaining a very energetic and determined 18-month-old by going on lots of weekend adventures and camping trips with friends.

Tell us a bit about your time at the University. 

I started at the University in the English Language Centre (ELC) as the Homestay Coordinator when we moved back to Adelaide from Scotland. I came over to the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences as Student Recruitment Officer when my now colleague went on maternity leave. Currently, I am both a Student Recruitment Officer and Assessments and Learning Services Officer within the faculty. Basically, I spend half the week talking to prospective students, their parents, their school teachers, or their career counsellors about the programs we offer in the faculty, or with high school students visiting for an on-campus experience. The other half of the week, I primarily organise and run the practical exams (Objective Structured Clinical Examinations – OSCEs) for the medicinenursing and allied health programs.

What has been your journey to get where you are today? 

I honestly couldn’t tell you how I got to where I am today with one defining moment, or even a specific chain of events.  I’ve moved countries a few times — including living on a Disney Cruise ship based in the Bahamas for almost three years — and definitely gone where the wind has blown (sorry for the cliché). Working for Disney was the hardest I have ever worked, but also the most rewarding job I have ever had. I was at a crossroads in my life and didn’t have a clear direction, like most 21-year-olds, so accepted the position and flew to Orlando, Florida to start my training at Disney University (yes, it’s a real thing). I studied a management degree but have worked as a sports coordinator, café manager, travel agent, theatre costume technician, youth activities staff trainer, and accounts officer–just to name a few.  I’ve always enjoyed learning new things and the challenge that comes along with being thrown into the deep end.  

Being married to a non-Australian has certainly presented its challenges both professionally and geographically. We have had to move multiple times in order for us to live and work in the same place due to visa requirements. Whilst we can both be in Australia permanently now, it’s a tough time for those with family and close friends overseas like us. The world seemed so much smaller when people and places were only a flight away.

Elise Przytula

What do you love most about working at the University of Adelaide? 

In my recruitment role, I most enjoy speaking to future students to see their faces light up when I talk about the amazing things we have at Adelaide that they can do, study, or experience. We have so much to offer our students, not only in our faculty, but also the University as a whole. I wish I knew about all the clubs, societies, and social events available when I was studying! O’Week is so much fun for me because I try to spot faces in the crowd of the students to see if I recognise any. I will often talk to students a few times in their later years of high school and I am pretty good at remembering faces.  When they catch my eye and share the excitement of the “I GOT IN!” moment, it makes me so happy!  

In my assessments role, I really enjoy OSCE days — it’s very reminiscent of my time in the theatre. As the practical exams involve so many moving parts and specific timing, it reminds me of a show. Everyone has their role, the place they need to stand, a prop to hold, staff running around with clipboards — it’s organised chaos, for sure. Then, just before the exam starts and the students are lined up ready to come in, hush goes over the floor. Then, the exam finishes and there is a sigh of relief — just like a curtain at the end of a theatre performance. OSCE weeks are exhausting and long days, but I really do enjoy the chaos and stress and also the sense of achievement when it’s all over, despite the usual list of things that didn’t go to plan. We have an amazing team in Adelaide Health Simulation, who I am so lucky to work alongside for the OSCEs — plus the facilities and technology is just mind-blowing!

Where’s your favourite spot on campus? 

In the nicer weather, I actually really enjoy walking round the Botanic Gardens, just behind the Helen Mayo buildings. I try to leave the office most days at lunch time and we are so lucky having a campus in the middle of the city with the beautiful gardens right next door.  

Have you ever had a life-changing experience? 

I would have to say that becoming a parent was life-changing.  Having a tiny person who you have to provide for really grounded me. Living for years out of one piece of 23kg luggage suited me well. I am more settled and comfortable in one place than I have ever been as I see the benefits for my daughter. I can appreciate the importance of consistency and making roots for her future. That certainly doesn’t stop me from doing as many impulsive trips camping or interstate as I can possibly squeeze into life to satisfy my itchy feet though!


What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I’m a pretty open book to people who know me, honestly. I’m working on a coffee table book of photos of myself in front of famous landmarks around the world doing a headstand. I plan on flipping the photos so I’m the right way up and calling it, ‘The world as I see it’. 

What’s the motto that you live by?

Never regret anything because, at one time, it was exactly what you wanted.

What TV show are you currently bingeing? 

I have just finished watching the final season of The 100 but haven’t got into anything else yet.  

What do you hope to achieve in the next 10 years? 

Oh my, who knows?!  I’m not good at focusing on one project or working towards a big goal (I have a growing to-do list that’s full of half started projects). The main achievement I’m working towards is probably to hit my 40 countries before I turn 40 list. I would also love for my kids to explore Australia like I did as a child in a caravan for a few months. Maybe we will sell our house and live in a bus?! (My wife’s going to kill me for saying that because I constantly suggest it!) On a personal note, I hope, in 10 years, I would have learned to slow down a bit, and maybe actually finish one of the projects on my list. 

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