Melika Borghei is an adventurous student whose journey at Griffith University on the Gold Coast has been simply life-changing. Originally from Iran, Mel found her place in the Bachelor of Business program, majoring in Tourism Management—a choice that perfectly aligns with her innate passion for exploring diverse cultures and countries.
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With five years of studying French and some skills in several other languages, Mel understands the power of language in unlocking new worlds. It is this curiosity for discovering different cultures and countries that led her to pursue a degree in tourism, a field that allows her to turn her passion into a rewarding career.
From the very first time Mel browsed through Griffith’s website, she felt an overwhelming sense of belonging. “I can proudly say I had never felt like I belong to somewhere more. This sense of belonging, welcoming, and being included throughout Griffith community is one of the most valuable factors that keeps you going and pushes you over the limits, no matter what,” she says.
At Griffith, Mel has found more than just an education; she has discovered a second family, a network of friends who are here to share in the same adventure. It is the integration of respect, intimacy, and kindness within this community that elevates her experience and contributes to her mental wellbeing and academic success as an international student. Here’s more of Mel’s story, as told by her.
Hi Mel! What made you want to study abroad?
I have always been keen on discovering new places, people, cultures, and languages. Therefore, from an early age, the thought of studying and earning a living experience in another country totally different from my own had been appealing to me, and each step I took was to chase this dream of mine.
In Iran, the access to other countries and cultures is currently quite difficult, and that reduces the opportunities for young people like me to grow and become successful in their preferred fields overseas; thus, I chose the difficulties of leaving my family and country in order to get to where I want to be, and here I am!
My first interaction with Griffith university was through a random Instagram post from the Gold Coast campus. At that very second, I paused and looked at the post carefully. The next thing I knew, I told my parents that I had finally found the place.
However, I did months of research and considered different countries, universities, and majors to make my final decision. At last, I knew that by studying at Griffith, I would not only pursue my both interests as I could study both design and business, but also the inclusive and diverse culture of both the university and Australia would welcome me better than anywhere else.
What do you love most about your life in Queensland?
Considering I am a person who always prefers sunny, warm weather and golden beaches and vast, blue oceans over snowy, cold winters and gloomy cities, I can confidently say life here is all I ever wished for. In fact, all my friends back in Iran would tell you that if each of us individuals were a city, I would most probably be Gold Coast.
Living here gives me the feeling of having the best of two worlds, or should I say all the worlds. I love living somewhere where I can see the jungle, the ocean, and the high-rises all together. It’s just so beautiful that it seems like I’m living in animations or even paintings.
What was your biggest fear/concerns of starting your student journey abroad? How did you overcome your fear?
I would be lying if I said I did not have any concerns, but to be honest, I had never been so sure and confident of a decision in my life and no, I am not a big risk-taker. I just knew in my heart that this journey would be perfect.
Back to what worried me the most, I would probably say that my top three concerns were fitting in, making connections/friends, and finding a job. But I was lucky enough to have a very dear friend in Brisbane who has been living here for almost 10 years, and as she talked to me over the phone and as I commenced my studies online last trimester and made some friends in the online classes, little by little my concerns turned into excitement and gave me the confidence to face all the sweet challenges of this journey.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
“Visualise what you want in your head, write it down, put it in front of your eyes, and do not stop until you get them, make yourself and everyone else proud”.
This is simply what my father has been telling me all my life, but I only started listening in the last two years ago. When I wrote “Griffith, Gold Coast” with a red marker on a paper and pinned it on top of my desk to see it every day, I had no idea I would be sitting in my room in Gold Coast in less than two years’ time and be writing about it.
Who in your life has had the most influence on your career and life choices and why?
The most influential people in my life are probably my parents, one of my cousins, and my English tutor. My parents have always pushed me towards my goals, they have supported me unconditionally on this path, and they believed in and respected me and my choices. Everything that I am now is from how they brought me up and I could never be thankful enough.
My cousin who is like a true brother to me is the person whom I witnessed going through a path that was not meant for him, changing his direction, and then going after his true passion and becoming successful in that field. It was fortunate for me that his passion was psychology and with his guidance, I started meditating and reading about mindfulness and meditation since I was young, and I think this had a significant impact on forming my character.
Finally, my English tutor who has been with me since I was 11 years old. If it were not for her, I would not be here today. She showed me a whole new world and she encouraged me to explore other worlds. She not only taught me English, but also taught me about life.
What has been a key moment in your life as an international student?
I cannot point out a specific moment, but I would confidently say every moment since my journey to Australia began in Iran has had a life lesson for me and taught me things I would not have learnt if I had not chosen this path. I must mention that living abroad as an international student is not an easy task but once you take the first step, it starts flowing and you will figure it all out as you grow at an unbelievable pace.
For me, the hardest part is, was, has been, being far from my family and friends back home but then again, the experience I am gaining here is worth all the hardships. As an international student who has had the courage to leave their previous life behind and start a new one, at some point it hits you that you have to start building a whole new cycle with whole new relationships and that can be daunting or it can even take a while but just, trust the process.
What has been your overall experience studying at Griffith as an international student?
I would generally state that Griffith’s community is in fact so large and welcoming that sooner or later, everyone would fit in their right spot. From the staff to the students, and even the architectural aspects of the campus, are all welcoming and peaceful.
Apart from all the positivity that I personally receive from Griffith’s environment, in terms of academic concerns, I think all the courses I have had so far have had their challenges and their funs altogether; the courses are designed in an engaging way that enables you to be creative and innovative while studying. Something else that Griffith has gifted me is the opportunity to find my true passion for studying and my future career.
What are your dreams after graduating?
I could probably rant on for hours and hours about this question, but a brief overview would be working in the tourism/hospitality industry, in a big, nice hotel and then little-by-little getting promoted. One thing I would love to do is to go to different cities and do research for developing the hotel branches to those cities. I would also love to become a professional travel advisor. I have always wanted to have a job that requires me to travel a lot and see all different parts of the world, discover cultures, and learn languages. Therefore, having this passion for seeing different places and knowing about countries, cultures, histories, I think I would go an extra mile to fit into tourism industry and help people become more educated about the world and also see what this planet has to offer.
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.