In this edition of Humans of Griffith, we’re chatting to Matthew Plant, an ambitious student from Johannesburg, South Africa who is pursuing a double degree in Business and International Tourism and Hotel Management.
Matthew shares his reasons for choosing Australia and Griffith University, tells us about his new job, and lets us in on his newfound passion for surfing. He also discusses the importance of networking and community, and offers some valuable advice to future students looking to embark on a similar journey.
Interested in sharing your story? DM us on Instagram @griffithinternational.
After growing up in Johannesburg, Matthew knew he wanted to study abroad and experience a new culture. It very much helped that his chosen field of study lends itself perfectly to the tourist hub of the Gold Coast.
He’s already landed a part-time job at the Hilton in Surfers Paradise, which is the perfect way to gain industry experience. At Griffith, Matthew has found a supportive network of peers and teaching staff – all keen to see him achieve his dream of being a powerful force in the tourism industry. This is some of Matthew’s story, in his own words.
Hi Matthew! Can you introduce yourself for us?
Hi, my name is Matthew Plant. I am studying a Bachelor of Business and a Bachelor of International Tourism and Hotel Management.
Where are you originally from?
I’m from Johannesburg in South Africa. I was born and raised there and I went to high school there and then decided to come over to Australia and study – so I’m straight out of high school into university… and I’m loving it.
Why did you choose Australia and Griffith in particular?
I chose Australia because it’s full of opportunity, good weather and it’s similar to back home in South Africa with the culture and the weather. It wasn’t going to be that much of a shift.
And then I chose Griffith University in particular because they rank really highly for what I’m studying, which is Hotel Management. Griffith is number one in Australia and number three in the world for a bachelor’s degree with hotel management.
The weather is awesome here on the Gold Coast, and the Gold Coast campus and is also very good for the hotel management and hospitality scene, as we’re in the heart of Queensland and tourism flourishes here.
Also to have really good student support. I thought if I’m making the big move across from South Africa, I wanted to be supported.
Congratulations. on your new job! Can you tell us about it?
I was looking for jobs just to work part time and was going to look for anything just to help pay the bills and keep me busy. I was on the Griffith Careers Hub and I saw they were advertising a job at the Hilton Surfers Paradise for Concierge.
I thought that would be a great foot in the door, and get some industry insight and knowledge whilst I study. That way I can graduate with some job experience and provide that as a great step for employability when I graduate.
The opportunities here whilst you’re studying are really good, and the Hilton are everywhere so it’s very internationally focused.
What do you do in your spare time?
I’ve just gotten into surfing and the beach is amazing. You’ve got a large sprawl of the beach that just continues forever on the Gold Coast, so there’s a lot of spaces to surf and it has beautiful weather and decent waves.
I also like hanging out with friends; you can go down to the beach, down to a park, to a barbecue, or as I call it, a braai back home. When the weather’s good and you’ve got some free time, you just drop down to the beach, popping in there and the flexibility and interconnectedness with the trams is very, very good.
How did you get into surfing?
I got into surfing when a friend invited me and said, ”you should come check out the surfing I just started.” He’s also an international student and he has like a whole friend group that is learning surfing together. It’s an all new experience for us.
I live far from the beach back home, so I never really got into surfing. And it’s a thrill and like a feeling, an experience that’s very, very different. It’s kind of like skiing. No one really skis and then you start skiing. It’s really cool. We just go down every Sunday morning.
What is important to you when you think about your studies?
What matters to me is being able to network and have that base of people around you who are all working towards a common goal.
I think it’s really important in the business industry that you network and that that is very good here. At Griffith there’s a lot of the networking programs and workshops that really helped with that, and that’s what I found in my short time here. And I think another thing is that you’re all really friendly.
Even you can chat to your tutor, you can chat to your course convener, and it can be like accessible and you’re not too far from anyone. And so the community base really matters to me. I’ve got support. I can make some friends here and there, you know, to find people who are doing my degree and that makes it a whole lot easier.
So that, yeah, I think that family kind of base really matters to me. Yes, I’m studying a degree, but it’s more from who I speak to, what I learn from the people around me here – Griffith alumni, teachers, students and other people I connect with.
What’s your dream job when you finish your degree?
I’d like to work in hotels and manage a hotel. And eventually maybe buy a hotel. But because I’m studying the double degree, it’s pretty flexible. I can completely leave the international tourism and hotel management side and go straight into business and work as a business manager or marketing or anything like that. So yeah, it’s very flexible.
Ideally, I’d like to go into the hotel management and hospitality sphere, combine my degrees together and become quite a powerful force in that industry.
Are you part of any clubs?
I’m not officially a part of any clubs, but I’ve got involved in a whole lot of what I would say club-like activities.
I’m playing social sport, touch football or ‘footy’. Yeah. I’m doing that on a Wednesday get to meet nice people and stay fit and active. I also go to the UniGlow Club on a Monday night and that is an awesome community with a family sense of belonging, and great way to unwind on a Monday.
How did you find accommodation?
I’m a bit of a planner so I did some research before arriving in Australia, but I came across some difficulty of not being able to actually go and see a place before able to sign a lease.
I found one on Facebook and there’s a whole bunch of Facebook groups that make it really easy to see all your options. And I found a place sharing with three other mates in Labrador on the Gold Coast.
They’ve made the move easy, and it’s very close to university so you can even just walk there. I’m living with three Australians and one is another student at Griffith.
The Australian people have been really accommodating. When I first arrived it was super helpful – I just had to show up with a suitcase. I had no stuff – no plates, no pans, no cutlery, nothing. And I just shifted into what they had set up already.
And it was really easy and I thought the move would be difficult and a whole lot more expensive. But it’s been positive.
What advice would you give somebody who is looking to study abroad?
So my advice to someone who’s looking to study in Australia or Griffith, I’d say do it because there is so much opportunity here.
Everyone wants to see you do well, everyone wants to help you and the lifestyle is amazing. The work and study balance is amazing. Also have some time for some downtime and hobbies.
Depending on where you’re coming from, it’s really, really different and it opens up a whole new life. And so I would say definitely jump at it.
The support here is amazing. The degrees are really well structured and so I would say get into it. I don’t regret it and I’m looking forward to the rest of it!
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.