Yiling is an international student from Guangzhou, China who dreams of becoming a professional social worker, enhancing community development and also has a desire to start her own education business. She is currently studying a Master of Social Work at the Gold Coast campus.
Interested in sharing your story? DM us on Instagram @griffithinternational.
What made you want to study abroad?
I wanted to travel and live in a whole new and different country. There is no greater wonderful luxury in life than being able to travel to new places, meet new people, and be immersed in customs and cultures that are quite different from my own.
One of the main reasons I wanted to study abroad was to have the opportunity to do all these things and more, making me excited to self-develop. Furthermore, such a chance does not come along often, making it much more valuable.
Why did you choose Griffith University?
After I decided to study on the Gold Coast, I started to search the universities that were on the coast. My family recommended me to study at Griffith since it has a high reputation, good educational resources and more importantly, just ten minutes walking from my family’s house which makes it easy for me to commute.
What do you love most about your life in Queensland?
The relaxing lifestyle and vibes here make me chill out and enjoy life. Queensland is a paradise, with friendly people, a comfy climate, beautiful beaches, hinterland and mountains. Living here makes me feel like every day is a vacation. With the help of local people I settled in very quickly and felt at home, even at the beginning of my arrival in this amazing place.
What was your biggest fear about starting your student journey?
My biggest concerns were culture shock and the language barrier. I was worried that it might be stressful to live alone in a new place. Even those who have travelled extensively may find it difficult to acclimatise to new cultures, languages, habits, faiths and beliefs. Adapting to an entirely other culture can be challenging and required me to step out of my comfort zone.
I was also worried that having a conversation in an English-speaking nation as a foreigner might be difficult, especially studying as an international student who needs to pass exams and also settle in a new country.
How did you overcome your fear?
The best way to deal with fear is to keep an open mind when meeting new people. It’s easy to blend in with a new culture by attending local activities and cultural festivals. Keep an open mind, but don’t pass judgement on other people’s views or preferences. Besides, the best way to overcome language issues is to cast your fear aside and interact with locals. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes while you speak with the locals. I believe that practice makes perfect.
I attended many free English conversation corners in local libraries, and have been volunteering with different organisations to practice my English and to make new friends who come from diverse cultural backgrounds, so I could learn about the different cultures and enrich my overseas life.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Make yourself your main priority. I took this advice from Wai Yin, the youth development program manager from Multicultural Families Organization (MFO). In our daily lives, we care about other people’s needs and feelings so we put our own needs away to help others, while doing this might put pressure on our own life.
Thus, when somebody asks for our help and support, we should think about whether it will be overwhelming to us if we make that commitment. If it will be, do not be afraid to say no, since we are the people who we should look after first.
Who in your life has had the most influence on you?
The first person that comes to mind is my mother. She is an independent and open-minded woman who gives me tonnes of love, support and guidance throughout my life. I followed her career path to become a teacher back in China, and now I am also living her dream life, which is studying and living overseas.
What has been a key moment in your life as an international student?
I was invited to record two podcasts to share my stories and life in Australia by StudyGoldCoast and StudyQueensland respectively, and was interviewed by Seven News about my views on the opening of the Australian International border.
And now, I have been invited by Griffith International to join this Humans of Griffith series. All these moments make me feel that my voice matters, my efforts are recognized and these experiences also encourage me to do better in the future.
What has been your overall experience studying at Griffith as an international student?
It is awesome. Griffith cares about international students and has been helpful and supportive during my study, with many different resources, like free English help each week. And the staff are reachable.
Every time I needed help and I contacted the university or my course conveners, they would reply promptly. Most importantly, Griffith enhances culture and LGBTQ+ equality, which makes me feel respected and safe as an international student.
Do you do any volunteer or extra-curricular activities?
Yes, I do. I have been volunteering with the Multicultural Families Organization (MFO) for two years since I arrived on the Gold Coast. I have facilitated different community events, programs and activities, like the ‘Come Together as One’ event to champion the diverse cultural communities on the coast and English lessons for migrants.
Now, I am facilitating the weekly youth development group for high school students, empowering them to know more about themselves, improve their social skills and connect with the local community.
The best part for me is that I am using my academic expertise and passion to help the community and making lots of friends in the meantime, making me feel I am living a meaningful life. By volunteering, I also get many benefits back, such as becoming more positive, active and confident in this new country.
Where can we find you at the weekends?
I like exploring different things and new experiences, so I visit different places at the weekends. You might see me doing bushwalking, camping with friends in the hinterland, like Springbrook or Mt Tambourine.
I am also a beach person. You might find me on different beaches on the Gold Coast, having a picnic, surfing or just lying down and chilling out with my friends. Burleigh Heads beach and Currumbin Beach are my favourite spots.
What are your dreams after graduating?
I want to become a professional social worker, enhancing community development, helping domestic family violence victims and protecting children and youth.
In addition, I also desire to run my own education business like opening an afterschool care centre, combined with academic and cultural coaching and tutoring.
What is your favourite quote?
‘ The past is gone, the present is a gift and the future is a mystery. ‘
Hear more from Yiling:
LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/yilingchengc
Instagram – @eileenyilinggg
HUMANS OF GRIFFITH INTERNATIONAL
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 griffith.edu.au/international.
Interested in sharing your story? DM us on Instagram @griffithinternational.
View more Humans of Griffith student stories here.