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From Calgary to the Gold Coast: Meet Dental Health Science Student Brittani Kwok

Brittani Kwok is a second year dentistry student who swapped the snow for the sand earlier in 2020 to pursue her dream of becoming a dentist. Prior to joining Griffith, Brittani completed a degree in Cellular, Molecular, and Microbial Biology from the University of Calgary.

What is your dream job? I would love to be a clinician practising dentistry, possibly specialising (although I’m not sure what yet!) and professor (I would love to eventually teach dentistry).

How is Griffith University helping you achieve that dream?  Griffith has some amazing facilities such as the anatomy learning centre that really help solidify my knowledge which will eventually help me to be the best clinician I can be!

Why did you choose to study at Griffith University? I was accepted into five different dental schools in Australia and had a very difficult time deciding which one to go to. I eventually chose Griffith for a number of reasons. One was that Griffith has state-of-the-art facilities such as the Simodont machines which help to provide students with hands on practise. Another was that Griffith was the only school that was offering credit for prior learning. I ended up saving a lot of time and money on tuition this way, which ultimately allowed me to travel a lot during my first year and explore Australia.

I also thought that Gold Coast was going to be the best fit for me in terms of lifestyle and I was not disappointed! Everything here from the beaches to the community of people to the vibe of the city is exactly what I hoped it would be.

What do you love most about studying at Griffith University? My cohort. I have made so many good friends here (both domestic and international). They really help to diminish the homesickness that you’ll inevitably feel living so far away from home. My cohort is so diverse (in age, ethnicity, interests, etc.) and I feel as though no matter who you are, you’ll have no issues feeling like you belong.

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What has been your experience of studying online at Griffith since COVID-19? I really like that I can listen to my lectures whenever and wherever I want to. It’s also really handy to be able to pause and rewind lectures if I’ve missed something. It definitely has been difficult though. I find it really difficult to motivate myself to study and stay on track because there are so many amazing things to do here and not being able to go to regular lectures and labs really hindered my ability to build a healthy study routine. Overall though, I have enjoyed my studies in spite of all the drawbacks of COVID-19.

How has Griffith made you feel supported on your student journey? Griffith has such an amazing community including the international student advisors, professors, and students. The international student population (and the Canadian students in particular) is quite large and therefore, I never feel alone. Everyone is really supportive because we’re all going through the same struggles of missing home and the uncertainty of not knowing when we will get to go back home again. Thankfully though, the community at Griffith makes me feel comfortable and supported.

How would you describe the teaching staff at Griffith? I received credit for eight classes at Griffith so I really was only in two classes in my first year! Therefore, I can’t speak to the breadth of teaching staff at Griffith (yet!). However, the professors that I did have were really great and eager to help. They’re all really passionate about what they do, and that shines through in their teaching.

Why would you recommend Griffith University to other students? I think if you want to go to a university with a diverse student body, state-of-the-art facilities, and live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Griffith would be for you.

Tell us about your favourite “Griffith moment” so far? Hmm… probably the very first time I came to campus. I had spent the months leading up to my arrival here Googling photos of Griffith and Gold Coast because I was so excited to come. When I finally arrived here, it looked exactly as it did online and that got me really excited. Also, when I got my first pair of dental scrubs. My mom made me pose for a photo outside the Health Science building in them. I was excited to wear them until I put them on and realised it was 35 degrees celsius and then suddenly, I was not so excited to be sweating through them. But I still love that memory because it felt like I was officially a dental student.

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How has Griffith changed you? What have you learned about yourself? 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!

What do you do for fun? Going to the beach is an obvious favourite thing to do in Gold Coast because half the city is beach! Whether alone or with friends, a day at the beach is never something I would turn down. I also love trying new cafes (and there’s no shortage of those here either), ramen shops, and farmer’s markets. Trips to Brisbane are also really fun! I love to ride the ferry there and walk along South Bank.

What has been your favourite weekend outing or holiday experience since you arrived in sunny Queensland? I have done a lot of travel within Queensland since I’ve been here! One of the reasons I wanted to come to Australia in the first place was to explore!

So far, I have been on a trip to Noosa and a trip to the Whitsunday Islands and Airlie Beach. Noosa National Park was absolutely stunning. I went whale watching, swam in the fairy pools, ate gelato on the beach, watched the sunset from Laguna Lookout, and walked along the beautifully lit up Hastings Street at night. In Airlie Beach I went snorkelling on Hook Island, saw the beautiful swirling sands of Hill Inlet, relaxed on Whitehaven Beach, and went jet skiing around the islands. Next week I am actually headed to Cairns to get my diving certification on the Great Barrier Reef! There truly is no shortage of amazing experiences to be had here in Queensland.

What do you love most about life in Queensland? I think this is an unfair question. I don’t think I could pick one thing… I love the sunshine, the beaches, the Great Barrier Reef, the waterfalls, the endless amounts of things to do, the ease of transport between cities… If I had to pick one thing, it would be that it feels a lot like home, but with more sunshine and more sand!

For any North American’s wanting to find out more about studying at Griffith, please visit our website here.

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