Rohani Goes Global in Hong Kong
As a student at Griffith University, you have the opportunity to expand your horizons by going global. On exchange you’ll challenge yourself, gain experiences that impress potential employers, discover amazing places and form lifelong memories. Including an overseas program as part of your degree is one of the best experiences you can have at university. Rohani Bakhach, a 3rd year environmental science student recently shared her experiences on exchange in Hong Kong.
Tell us about your degree and why you decided to do exchange
I started at Griffith in 2017, in a Bachelor of Biochemistry, but after my first year I gravitated towards an interest in environmental science, decided to transfer to a Bachelor of Environmental Science and haven’t looked back!
I studied at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) for just one semester, but what a whirlwind of a semester it was! I took the opportunity to explore other areas outside of my Environmental Science discipline (such as Linguistics and Mandarin), however I do think that having the international student experience and living solo in a new country in general, helped me to grow as a young adult and prepare myself for the workplace, in ways I didn’t realise I needed to grow and prepare.
What did a typical week on exchange look like?
A typical week on my exchange was mostly going to university, sometimes stopping to go to the free gym on the way. When I walked from my dorm I would admire any new or existing (or attempted cover up of) political protesting propaganda, which was spray painted or postered all the way to and through the campus!
If I had afternoons free from classes, I would go on little adventures near-by and would invite other exchange students or local friends I had met or just go on my own. On the weekends I tried to go on my more far-away bucket-list adventures.
“It was the best thing to gain this visceral respect and understanding for how special it is to be able to relate to others despite differences and rejoice about getting to share your own world and learn about someone else’s.”
What knowledge or skills gained on exchange are the most valuable to you?
I definitely gained a unique perspective on the protest situation in Hong Kong and gratitude for the political situation in Australia. Being international, I didn’t feel it was my place to get involved, but the students were so open to discuss why they felt so strongly about the political situation in Hong Kong.
I gained the knowledge that the media show the worst parts of things. My mum would call me worried about my safety, while most of the protest demonstrations I saw were peaceful, even beautiful, with groups of students holding hands and chanting or moving in slow synchronized ways, just drawing attention to their concerns.
Apart from gaining an interesting perspective on international politics, I gained a lot of self-confidence. I had to make completely new friends and approach people (scary!). I couldn’t always find a friend to join me on adventures, so I spent a lot of time exploring on my own, problem-solving if necessary and getting lost then found again! I really feel like I developed a sense of ease and confidence in myself that everything will work out in the end. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely a few tears at the start, like when I would just be completely overwhelmed by the number of people in the train station!
What did you enjoy the most about exchange?
The thing I enjoyed the most about exchange was making friends with so many people from entirely different cultures. I now have friends with all kinds of backgrounds that I still call every month or so to catch up with. Plus, I also have made friends from all around the globe who I would feel more than comfortable visiting if I was ever in their home country.
When I was getting to know my closer international friends and we were comparing our upbringings and life experiences etc. it just felt so crazy, that we were so similar in age, but came from what seemed like completely different worlds. For example, when I stayed at one of my local Hong Kong friend’s house for first time she confessed “this is my first sleepover”. It was such a shock to me because I’d been staying at my friends houses in Australia since I could remember, but the culture was just very different in Hong Kong.
It was the best thing to gain this visceral respect and understanding for how special it is to be able to relate to others despite differences and rejoice about getting to share your world and learn about someone else’s world a little.
“I really feel like I developed a sense of ease and confidence in myself that everything will work out in the end.”
What advice would you give to current students looking into exchange?
GO!! And then when you’re there, join in and make friends!
Also, save as much money as you can before-hand and apply for scholarships and grants because you definitely spend more money than you expect.
While Griffith University has suspended all outgoing student international mobility for the near future, we welcome you to review the amazing range of overseas mobility experiences offered through Griffith University so you are prepared for when an update to the University travel insurance policy is made.