Student Blog: What I gained from being a Student Ambassador
Sofia hails from Colombo Brazil, and arrived in Brisbane in early 2016 to begin her studies in Australia. As a self-described wanderlust, Sofia chose to undertake her international studies in Brisbane – and what an experience she has had! See her year as it happened here, or check out #studybrisbane.
Read on to find out what Sofia has gained from her year as a Brisbane International Student Ambassador. You never know, you may be inspired to apply!
When I was selected to be one of the Brisbane International Student Ambassadors for 2017, I couldn’t have imagined how this would change everything for me. So, it’s hard to pick just one thing that I got out of being an Ambassador, because to be honest, this was a life-changing experience in so many ways and I don’t want to be unfair.
1. The friendships I made
Well, to be exact: 39 new friends from 34 different countries! Need some more? We are almost a family, we help each other out, support each other in tough times and of course have heaps of fun together. I know that I can count on them and vice versa.
2. Professional development opportunities
In addition to these amazing friendships, I also highlight the opportunities to improve social and professional development offered within the Ambassador program. As an example, I attended the very first Queensland International Student Leaders Forum, where I learned more about the government initiatives to enhance the student participation in the decision-making process and what is being done for international students. Also, I met so many people from around the world - from different cultures and backgrounds - and increased my networking connections for basically everything that I could possibly need one day.
3. Social media skills
Another benefit of the program is learning how to take advantage of social media to promote yourself and the city. Knowing how to use these channels can improve your chances of getting a job, building a better profile on LinkedIn, posting engaging pictures on Instagram, making new friends on Facebook, using Twitter and staying on top of hashtags (#studybrisbane guys), being a popstar on YouTube or even writing important articles about your studies and future perspectives. The power of social media is endless and having the know-how is a differential and a must-have for everyone nowadays.
4. Volunteer experience
Talking about opportunities, the one I most liked was being a volunteer for MDA (Multicultural Development Australia). This incredible organisation prepares events throughout the year focused on welcoming refugees and making them comfortable of being in Australia, their new home. The events involved the participation of ethnic groups, dance presentations, cultural handicraft and of course the marvelous food.
Certainly, helping out in these events as a volunteer opened my vision of the world and its beautiful differences that every country have and how we can live together in peace, respecting each other and being happy, all in the same place.
5. Dramatically improved English!
If you are an international student, this means most of the time English is not your first language or you don’t speak it perfectly. This can create a struggle sometimes to connect with other people. Well, being an Ambassador opened up opportunities to improve my English skills and personal skills. I learned that even if you don’t say a word correctly because of your accent people will understand you, or at least they will try, because we are all in this together.
Through my involvement with the Ambassadors, all my fear of speaking wrong was gone, because there is no need to be afraid because everyone is so kind that they make it possible to know what you want to say.
6. Unforgettable experiences
Brisbane is full of interesting events for all sorts of tastes and styles, and we got to explore so many of them as Ambassadors. There are food festivals, musicals, dance performances, sports, and theatre. It is totally up to you what do you want to do in the city and I personally never get bored. You just need to walk around to find something appealing to do.
If you are a big fan of radical sports, there are lots of exciting options, however I am not a radical person so my activities always involved walking down the park and around South Bank to see the exhibitions in the Cultural Precinct. As I said, Brisbane is to everyone and by being an Ambassador I was able to explore the city even more!
The experience of being a Brisbane International Student Ambassador helped me to discover myself. I feel capable of doing everything that I want, I feel that I am able to achieve great things thanks to all that I learned - humbleness, compassion, patience - I could never make it in another place. I am extremely grateful for being an Ambassador and all of the opportunities that come with it.
If I am fearless now it’s due to this opportunity. Thank you Study Brisbane!
Think you’ve got what it takes to be an outstanding Brisbane International Student Ambassador? Apply now!