In this edition of Humans of Griffith, we’re speaking with Himmi Hotchandani, a Bachelor of Film and Screen Production student who recently worked with the Griffith International marketing team on a short-term assignment. Himmi’s originally from Ahmedabad City in western India, and it had always been his goal to one day leave his country and see what the world had to offer. Now Himmi shares some of his story, what he loves about life in Queensland, and what he hopes to achieve in the future.
Interested in sharing your story? DM us on Instagram @griffithinternational.
I am a 22-year-old who thinks art is life, and living a life is art. Philosophy aside, as mentioned, I am from India. As a country, it has given me many things and shaped me to be who I am, from getting my first job in the industry to giving me important life experiences to tell stories. I appreciate my roots and where I come from. I have changed my career course quite a few times to finally become a filmmaker. I studied engineering for a while, did a diploma in design and animation, worked as a photographer, and finally decided that stories are what I want to work with.
Since then, I haven’t worked a single day in my life. I have a cumulative experience of five years in the film and short-form content industry. I am planning on doing a Doctor of Philosophy in understanding the origin of stories and what defines us as a character in the play of life. Because, as Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely Players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His Acts being seven ages.”
I think it has been established by now that I am a fan of good philosophies and films. But apart from that, I love to spend time on myself working towards mental stability and peace in life.
What made you want to study abroad?
Getting out of my country was a goal from day one, not for a particular reason, rather to experience life on my own. I was originally planning to do my postgraduate here in Australia, but eventually, things fell into place so fast that I decided to do my undergrad instead. If I pinpoint a particular reason, it would be to create something of my own, to have a personal identity.
As I mentioned, India is a great country, but like any other country, it has its own quirks. One of them is the sense of community overpowering a person’s individuality, and to get away from it and be a person of myself is probably the reason I took a leap to study abroad. I also had a personal motivation to learn about Australian cinema; it is one of the fastest-growing industries, and it is always great to be at the forefront of change.
What do you love most about your life in Queensland?
The best thing about living in Queensland has to be the lovely social life with people from different cultures. Not a standard marketing answer, but a genuine thing that I felt, was that despite being from different walks of life, everyone comes together on a certain level, which makes it exciting to collaborate and work with people. Also, the Queensland sun, there is only a certain amount of sunscreen that can keep you from burning, but it is worth it.
What was your biggest fear/concern of starting your student journey abroad? How did you overcome your fear?
My biggest fear was fitting in. It might sound like a very small thing and probably something every international student goes through, but this huge change in anyone’s life puts you in a state of vulnerability, not only physical. I realize it is always a challenge to find new people who you can rely on and vibe with (gosh, I sound like a Gen-Z), and although I knew it was going to be easier than I thought, it was still nerve-wracking at some point. I feel a lot of international students go through this identity crisis, and everyone develops coping mechanisms, which, to some extent, makes sense but really takes a hit on the person’s mental health.
For me, it was talking too much, which turned out better than I thought. My social life is off the charts, yet sometimes it feels like these friendships are only superficial. I think every international student needs to know this, that whatever you do and however you choose to overcome your fear, at the end of the day, people are going to like you for who you are. Be confident in your input and bring in some multicultural perspective and relax; life here in Australia is not about seeing who wins at ‘moving to a different country’; it is about enjoying the opportunity of building your personal/professional life the way you want.
What has been a key moment in your life as an international student?
I can’t pinpoint one moment; the opportunity to study abroad is almost like an experience of a new life, which I have the consciousness and freedom to take in any direction I want. One of the key moments of my student life here in Brisbane was the first time I landed a film gig. Not going back to finding a job and working your life away, but it was exciting because I networked my way to the job and found something that I love to do (making films). Although it was a short-term thing, it really put me into the network of other filmmakers and led to other great opportunities.
Who has had the most influence on your career and life choices and why?
“Discipline and dedication to your passion make you who you are.” This is not a quote, but rather the way I have seen my dad growing up. He is turning 50, and he still works seven days a week, 12 hours a day, and all I want to take away from that is being sure about your path and the decisions you make along the way should not affect where you are going.
At the end of the day, you are following your passion, and it shouldn’t be affected by how you are getting there. He has had a great influence on my life and my career, my mum too. They have supported me through three career changes, and I don’t know how many avoidable mistakes.
If I am here pursuing this life, it is because of them, and at the end, all I want is to see is their sacrifice and dedication pay off.
Where can we find you at the weekends?
I have recently rediscovered my passion for hiking. Although I am not consistent with it, I love to spend at least one day of the weekend on trails with some friends. If I am not hiking, I am either reading a nice philosophy book in my backyard or cooking a big meal for my friends. I love to cook, and some say I am good at it, so putting my talent to use (haha), I love to feed people who appreciate food and spend some nice downtime. Regardless of anything, weekends are for me to wind down and make sure that I have the energy to get back to the grind the next day.
What are your dreams after graduating?
I want to make films. It is not complicated at all. Irrespective of where I am working or who I am working with, I want to spend every day making films and telling stories. One of my dream jobs here in Brisbane is to work with Village Roadshow Productions. Although it is a long shot to get into those productions, I am pretty determined to make my way there. Getting it or not is secondary.
Before ending this, I want to say this to every international student: I know it is difficult to keep up with everything going on, but trust me, it will work the way it is supposed to. Kick back and take a moment to appreciate where you are. Appreciate the efforts your family has put in to support you and the efforts you are putting in to pay off the big decision to move to an unknown country. You have a chance and you have time. Make sure to enjoy small successes and not worry about bigger journeys you have to undertake. I am walking in your shoes right now, and I promise whatever you do will be a building block towards a new life. Be kind, be respectful; we are all on the same journey, just going to different destinations.
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.