As an avid traveller, Prianca Govender knew that an opportunity to complete tertiary study in a foreign country was too good to pass up. She wanted to experience a culture different from her own and decided that Australia was the place to be to pursue a degree in Biomedical Science. When Prianca commenced her study, she also immersed herself in the Griffith University community, going on to become a Student Ambassador with Griffith Mates and President of the Griffith University Music Society . Prior to leaving South Africa for Australia, Prianca’s Grandmother told her to trust her instincts and find people that align with her values. She says this sage advice has guided her decisions while living abroad and offered her experiences that have been truly memorable.
Prianca’s favourite quote is;
“The eye goes blind when it only wants to see why.” by Rumi
Learn more about Prianca, below.
What made you want to study abroad?
I’ve wanted to study abroad since I first travelled to Europe in 2011. My family was fortunate enough to be able to travel a few times after that and each time, I was increasingly excited at the prospect of living somewhere else. I fell in love with the world outside of my own little bubble and knew I wanted to be a part of it as soon as possible.
I decided to make the move for tertiary education during high school. I would have many talks about it with my Mother and she fully supported the idea that I should move before I study and not after. She knew the importance of the transferability of an overseas degree i.e.. that my degree might not be looked at in the same light if it was done in South Africa compared to Australia. She also knew that it would mean I’d have access to better equipment as part of my degree and better infrastructure. Beyond that, she told me that it would allow me to grow as a person more than I could ever fathom. You know how the saying goes; Mother indeed knows best. I was fortunate to have support in my endeavours from my family and so, when the time came, I applied to universities overseas and the rest is history.
Why did you choose Griffith University?
I knew I wanted to study biomedical science. This degree appealed to me because it covers a broad range of topics and gives you a lot of time in the lab so you can develop hands-on experience. When researching universities in Australia, I found that Griffith was the first university in Australia to offer the biomedical science program in 1991. This appealed to me because it meant that the degree had been tested by time and given a chance to grow with new information and technologies as we discovered them.
I researched further into the university and also found that they were ranked in the top 2% worldwide. I also read about their core principles and values and found that they aligned with mine.
What do you love most about your life in Queensland?
I love the safety of the city and the nightlife. I love how I’m always learning about new places to explore and things to see, it’s like Queensland is infinite. I enjoy going down to Burleigh Heads and Coolangatta and playing around with my friends on the beach. I also love how easy it is for me to access different types of food here. I’ve definitely made a list of regular spots and will be showing all of them to my Dad when he comes down for graduation soon.
What was your biggest fear/concerns of starting your student journey abroad?
I was coming to Australia a few months after losing a close family member. I felt anxious about leaving the rest of my family behind so soon. I also wasn’t sure how well I would adjust to being in a new environment. I was worried I’d feel alone without the support of my immediate family and would want to abandon my dream. I also wasn’t sure I’d make friends or do well with my university work. It was weird to feel so scared and so excited at the same time.
How did you overcome your fear?
To be honest, I just dove in, head first. I’d been quite an anxious person in my younger years and had a lot of regrets surrounding that. I wanted Australia to be different for me. I subconsciously decided to just dive in and open myself to whatever experiences came my way. I went up to people first and ignored the bubble in my throat as I introduced myself and made friendships that survive to this day. I put my hand up and did something out of my degree to align with my desire to give back and became a Griffith Mate. I followed my passion and became the President of the Griffith University Music Society. Little decisions that I made, not knowing at the time that they would all round out to give me what’s been some of the best years of my life.
What have you found to be the biggest differences from your home country and Australia?
I think the biggest difference is the people. Back home people would just understand my words, know what I meant. I know everyone probably thinks that about their home country but South Africans, we really do speak our own language sometimes. Coming here, I am constantly told that I mumble and need to speak louder and clearer. The same jokes or metaphors I could use back home get muddled up and confused. It can be quite frustrating but it’s an experience a lot of international students face and I’m still one of the fortunate few that doesn’t get it too bad. People are a different kind of bold here and it can be quite the culture shock, but you grow accustomed to it pretty quickly.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
I think the best advice I’ve been given was by my Grandmother before I left home. She told me to just be myself, trust my instincts and find people that align with who I am and what my values are.
Who in your life has had the most influence on your career and life choices and why?
My Mother definitely. She was an epidemiologist and noticed that I had natural curiosity towards the sciences. We’d always talk about her work on drives home and she encouraged me to explore my interests. I remember clearly, she picked me up from my school one day in grade 11 and I’d just received my report card. I did particularly well that year and for the first time, believed in my aptitude. I turned to her and said “I kind of want to study medicine”. She simply smiled and shouted out “FINALLY!!”. She’d been waiting patiently all those years for me to come to the realisation that I could genuinely pursue my interests. She never pushed me, just sat silently and encouraged me in my own endeavour until the day I’d finally have the confidence in myself to do it. Her support meant the world to me then and every day since.
What has been a key moment in your life as an international student?
Performing at Cultural Festival with the Griffith University Music Society. I suffered with a bad case of stage fright growing up but being a part of that group has allowed me to grow in ways I never thought possible. Not only have I conquered a great deal of my fear related to performing, I’ve also made many great friendships and memories along the way. It was a moment in my first year that I will never forget and will always be grateful to have experienced.
What has been your overall experience studying at Griffith as an international student?
Overall, it’s been a dream come true. I’ve entirely loved studying at Griffith. I think the experience Griffith offers, besides academically, is one of a kind. The number of events and engagement opportunities that are at the core of my memories over these past years is astounding.
Do you do attend any volunteer work, what is it, with what organisation and why?
I have been a member of the Griffith Mates team since late 2019 and am currently a Student Ambassador. I was interested in being a Mate because my first interaction with another student in Australia was actually a Mate. It was my first day at university and I was a little (a lot, actually) lost. I walked towards Campus Heart and saw the big red booth. I was greeted by a friendly face, who would later go on to interview me to join Mates. It was the first interaction I’d had with another student, and I remember being so nervous but chatting with that first person kind of broke the ice and I left feeling confident that I could handle this first day. The next person I ended up talking to is now a lifetime friend and my first connection to a lot of other friends and the Griffith University Music Society. I became it’s secretary in my first year and was club president for a further two years after that.
If yes, what do you enjoy most about it?
I joined Mates because I wanted to give another student the chance that I had, another moment that could potentially lead them somewhere great. I was always taught to pay my good fortune forward and it was always important to me that I do something for the international community that welcomed me so kindly. And I joined GUMS because it’s so fun, the energy was great and I leaped at the opportunity to meet more musicians.
Are you part of any clubs, if yes, which ones?
I am a lifetime member of the Griffith University Music Society, a tradition that the first exec group I was a part of in 2019 started for ex-Presidents. The most fun I’ve had with this club was probably performing for Cultural Festival and just the weekly jams we did.
I am also currently a member of the Griffith Languages Club. I haven’t had the chance to attend any of their events in person yet though.
Where can we find you at the weekends?
Depending on the vibe I’m either playing on my Switch, playing the guitar, studying in a Starbucks or out with my friends.
What are your dreams after graduating?
I’m fortunate enough to be working in a laboratory right now, which was a dream I’d had for many moons. However, I am currently interested in the field of astrobiology. I’m still putting my feelers out and doing some more research but it could be a possible step further in my education later on. I think the older I get though, my dream is really just to do work that I enjoy and that fulfils some part of me and makes me happy to go in to work on a Monday.
Want to connect and hear more from Prianca?
Connect via LinkedIn – Prianca Govender
Follow her on Instagram – prii.music
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.