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Fiona Utami

    Humans of Griffith

    Fiona Utami

    Bali is known all around the world as a tourist destination for those seeking adventure and fun in the sun. In fact, Bali has been issued the ‘Travellers Choice’ award by TripAdvisor many times and with diverse tourism experiences and beautiful scenery it’s not hard to see why more than 6.3 million tourists visited the island annually pre COVID-19 pandemic. While tourists have a deep love for Bali, they are also a contributor to its over-tourism problem, which has resulted in water shortages, sanitation issues and environmental degradation. Having been born and raised in Bali, Fiona Utami is studying a Master Degree of International Tourism and Hospitality Management to learn vital skills she can implement, that will alleviate these issues and help to provide a more sustainable future for Bali locals.

    We sat down with Fiona to learn a little more about her study and what life is like for her as an international student.

    Hi Fiona, tell us a little bit about yourself.

    Hi, I’m Fiona! I’m a dog-loving yogi who has a passion for digital marketing, data and growth hacking. I have been working in the digital marketing space for the past three years whilst completing a Master of International Tourism and Hospitality Management at the Gold Coast campus. I am most interested in tourism, the circular economy, and the agriculture sector and have a goal of becoming a socially-conscious entrepreneur that can find alignment in these interests.

    What made you want to study abroad?

    I wanted the exposure and experience of studying in a very different place from home. Fortunately, I passed the national selection for a fully-funded LPDP scholarship to study International Tourism and Hospitality Management. I love exploring new places and cultures and meeting new people. I think living and studying abroad has enriched my views, and it has helped me grow professionally and as a person as well.

    Why did you choose Griffith University?

    Having been raised in a tourist dependant country, I wanted to study tourism and learn what the future had in store for this sector. Australia was always at the top of my mind if I was to study abroad, so when I made that decision I found that in my research that Griffith University had an amazing reputation for its Tourism Degrees. Griffith’s sustainable tourism research record captivated me the most since that was my “why” for studying this sector, which is ‘to find out and hopefully minimise the negative impact of over tourism in my hometown’. Not to mention, the degree is based on the Gold Coast which is undeniably, the tourism capital of Australia.

    What do you love most about your life in Queensland?

    Queensland has lots of amazing places to explore. With new events, restaurants and activities popping up all the time. I love living on the Gold Coast, it’s not too crowded the people are super friendly and it has lots of beaches, mountains, and waterfalls to explore.

    What was your biggest concern about starting your student journey abroad?

    My biggest concern was not being able to go back home to Indonesia if there was an emergency at home. Even though I had already lived far away from home since graduating high school, I was still in the country. Thankfully post-pandemic, that is a little less of an issue now. Initially, I was a little homesick, but thanks to Gold Coast, which is very vibrant, and campus activities have helped me meet new friends, this quickly faded away.

    What is the best advice you have ever been given?

    From one of my professors during my undergraduate study. The class talked about entrepreneurial traits, and two principles really are memorable and hit the spot. First is the bird in a hand principle. It told us that we should focus on things we have and within our control to create value. It may talk about an entrepreneurial journey, but I could relate a lot. It helps me be more comfortable with uncertainty because it’s always there. The only thing I could do was focus on things I could manage and control and let the rest for later. The second one is from a book by John Maxwell titled the power of significance. This sentence said,

    “Most people regret something they fail to do, not something they fail at doing.”

    I feel like it’s okay to explore more things and fail rather than be regretful because I never try it. I received a lot of good advice in life, but I think those two helped me grow professionally and as a human in general.

    Who in your life has had the most influence on your career and life choices and why?

    I think it’s my dad and the activities I joined during high school. Since I was a kid, I frequently travelled around with my dad and saw how he helped people by providing jobs with businesses he opened. In high school, I joined activities and programs that exposed me to communities (some in remote areas) with lots of economic potential. However, people there still need more entrepreneurial energy to develop. I was always curious about developing that kind of potential, and I think being socially aware of entrepreneurship is the answer. Hence, I decided that I wanted to pursue entrepreneurship, especially as a socially conscious entrepreneur.

    What has been a key moment in your life as an international student?

    One of my key moments was when my time management and priorities were challenged. In the first two months on campus, I had a lot on my plate. I was still a full-time Digital Marketer working remotely for a start-up company which was very fast-paced, time and energy-consuming. Meanwhile, I was excited to finally be on campus and sink my teeth into all the activities on offer as well as my study load. It put me in a dilemma. I want to be more engaged with campus activities and explore Gold Coast more, but I also love my job. Since being an international student is such a precious time of my life, I decided to shift to part-time work so I had more capacity to enjoy campus life. It feels strange actually to not work as intensely as I was, but it feels pretty good too.

    What has been your overall experience studying at Griffith as an international student?

    Griffith University offers a great environment to study and have fun. The facilities are excellent, and all support for students is readily available. The campus has a vibrant feel with events for students happening all the time. I’d love to give a big shout-out to the Student Guild, Griffith Mates, and Students Clubs who always offer lots of events to get involved in. I would recommend Griffith University as a place to study if you ever consider studying abroad. It is diverse, supportive, conducive, and of course, lots of fun.

    Are you a member of any clubs? 

    Yes! I am part of Griffith Yoga and Meditation, Griffith University Association of Marketing (GUAM), and the Adventure Club. This year, I attended an SEO Analytics workshop facilitated by GUAM which was great. Besides the SEO knowledge, we also got to know lots of insights from the speaker, which is highly relevant to prepare us for the job market. We get better ideas about the on-demand skill, industry knowledge, and networking is always nice.

    What do you like to do on the weekend?

    I love visiting the beach, park, or a Sunday farmer’s market. Sometimes, I really enjoy me-time at home chilling or spending a good amount of time doing Yoga and Meditation. During the exam or assignment deadline period, the campus is always where you’ll usually find me.

    What are your dreams after graduating?

    My long-term career aspiration is to be an entrepreneur. I want to improve the agricultural ecosystem in Indonesia, which is pro farmers. The distribution chain is pressuring the farmers so much to sell supplies unreasonably cheap. I want to start by raising awareness of this issue, and I believe tourism could be the assisting sector to make it happen.


    Follow Fiona’s journey on Instagram or connect with her on LinkedIn



    At Griffith University, we celebrate diversity and difference. Our community is made up of students from around the globe, all with a unique story to tell. 

    In this Humans of Griffith series, a selection of our international students have chosen to share their experiences, unedited in their own words – from the challenges of studying abroad to building community and independence, and their dreams after graduation and beyond. 

    No matter who you are, or where you are in the world, whatever your study journey, Griffith University is with you all the way. Find out more at 

    Interested in sharing your story? DM us on Instagram @griffithinternational or email [email protected]

    View more Humans of Griffith student stories here.