Dilara is from Switzerland and is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) at Griffith University, Gold Coast campus. She has a multicultural background and has chosen to study Psychology to help improve awareness about mental health and wellbeing.
What made you want to study abroad?
For me, studying Psychology internationally hasn’t always been in the plan. One of the reasons I wanted to come to Australia in the first place was to explore! I have travelled the East Coast in 2019 and felt like I belong to this country, I was in love with this place. I also thought that the Gold Coast was going to be the best fit for me in terms of lifestyle. Everything here from the beaches, to the community of people, to the vibe of the city is exactly what I wanted. And of course the beautiful weather was just one of the many factors that lead me to choose to study in Australia.
Switzerland will forever be ‘home’, but not by choice. I have spent 25 years there and will always come back to visit my loved ones, but I have just learned and realised that it’s not for me. It’s not where I feel most myself, it’s not where I feel most alive. I believe that I have made the right decision. My life has flipped completely upside down from where it was two years ago, but in the best way possible.
It was certainly a risk deciding to uproot my life halfway across the world to pursue this crazy dream of mine, but so far, I truly think it’s been worth it.
Why did you choose Griffith University?
For me, the choice was relatively easy. Griffith University is a truly remarkable place to study, with world-class facilities. One of the things that particularly impressed me was that it is set up to be a university with a difference, with a strong focus on social justice, equity, and environmental sustainability. I found lots of reasons to join Griffith University, and the Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) sounded perfect for me.
What do you love most about your life in Queensland?
I am really into beaches and oceans – that’s one of the reasons why I love the Gold Coast a lot. Oh, and also the endless amount of activities on the coast, the beautiful nature parks and waterfalls. Australia is one of the most beautiful countries on earth!
What was your biggest fear about starting your student journey?
My biggest concern was starting from scratch, and I think the biggest thing I have gained so far in my journey here is independence. I’ve lived on my own before, but moving to a new country was definitely a big step.
I feel like I have gained so much confidence in myself and a sense of independence that I never would have gotten back home. I’ve learned that I can step outside of my comfort zone and put myself in situations where I’m not 100% sure of my capabilities and be okay with that. It’s really the best way to learn about yourself!
How did you overcome your fear?
Being completely disconnected from my family and friends was at the beginning quite difficult, but it also allowed me to discover important parts of my personality. I could see myself growing up week after week, and to step outside my comfort zone was the best thing I could have ever done. I met so many wonderful souls who became my second family.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice I was given was from my Cognitive Psychology Lecturer, Dr Sharon Scrafton, when she said, ‘Work hard – it’s no secret that grades are earned, not given. Consistent effort will help you feel under control and give you the best chance of performing well. You can do this, and we can help you! – learning is a process’ This was also an epiphany moment for me as I realised that everything is possible no matter what!
Who in your life has had the most influence on you?
Myself, my past experiences have shaped my life! One particular experience was when I used to work in a children’s shelter, focusing on oppression, in relation to my race, gender, and class, as if that was all of who I am and what I embody. One day, a colleague that I was working with talked to me about my privilege; she started to tell me about my privilege, as at that time I was a trainee social worker looking after abused children in the shelter, and being a part of their lives for a finite time.
As a Turkish/Swiss citizen born and raised in Switzerland, and as a young trainee with a multicultural background, I spoke four different languages. I was physically and mentally able to do everything. I was living with incredible privilege, although I did not use it in a way that could help and move others along. That was a transformative moment for me personally, and I think it also transformed my politics, my work and my mission as a social justice advocate. It led me to work in the field of social justice and adopt an approach to challenge oppression. I have built the concept of being an ally that includes: being aware, learning from and listening to the oppressed, and leveraging personal privilege and power.
As I mentioned earlier, I was neither acknowledging nor leveraging my privilege, so it is very important that no matter where we are, what social location or space we occupy, if we are in a place with some privilege and have some power, we need to exercise it.
I came to the conclusion that my mission is to inspire and empower others, support them to live their lives they have imagined, and guide them through their journey.
What has been a key moment in your life as an international student?
As an international student, I wouldn’t have imagined when I applied for my bachelor degree at Griffith University, that I would end up attaining the highest grades in my courses. A key moment was when I was awarded an International Student Academic Excellence Scholarship, and saw where my skills and capabilities had led me to.
Do you do any volunteer or extra-curricular activities?
I am a part of the Student Guild Volunteer Program at Griffith University, and do attend volunteer work when I am not overly busy working on my assignments. Volunteering helps me to stay active and be a part of Griffith. It is a great opportunity for social connections, while helping the local community and embracing diversity.
Are you part of any uni clubs?
Yes, I am a part of Griffith Psychology and Counselling Association. The committee organises fun events occasionally such as ‘Pizza Movie Night’ or ‘PJ Movie Night’, where we have free food, drinks and a whole lot of fun! We also organise night ‘cram study sessions’ when finals are getting closer.
Where can we find you at the weekend?
At the beach, it is an obvious favourite location of mine! Whether alone or with my partner, a day at the beach is never something I would turn down. I also love the markets, and long beach walks with a great coffee.
What are your dreams after graduating?
After graduation, I want to gain experience and be employed in a hospital, or work in Psychiatry as a Child and Adolescence Psychologist, and focus on complex mental health disorders. I always had the drive to achieve higher academic excellence and enhance my career opportunities. Hence, I will pursue a PhD after my Honours and expend my studies with research projects at university. I thoroughly enjoy doing research and running experiments.
My mantra is: ‘You are the greatest project you will ever work on’.
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/dilara-aslan-a27610173/
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.
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View more Humans of Griffith student stories here.