Serena Dong is currently a writer in VOIS Magazine as an editorial intern. This amazing girl is taking a Bachelor of Communications and Journalism at University of New South Wales in Sydney. She described her identity as “mixed”, different from what most people would call themselves. She concluded: “I can not identify myself with one specific place because I don’t have just one home”.
Serena was born in China but studied primary school in New Zealand for 4 years before moving back to China to study at an American Private school, absorbing a mixture of American and British culture. Now, she is here in Australia for her bachelor degree since February 2015. As a result of her background, she can speak Chinese and English fluently.
Although Serena enjoyed her years in New Zealand and China, she craved for a new environment to establish a vibrant university life. Upon a trip to Australia in September 2014, Serena fell in love with the people and most importantly, the University of New South Wales. After living in different countries for so many years, Serena freely shares her perspectives on the differences between China and New Zealand:
- New Zealand is so clean that you can walk on bare feet and the people living here are well-mannered
- China is not clean and you will have to wear shoes, the people are pretty rude (e.g: aggressive drivers go forwards at the same time).
Overall, Serena she loves the life she has now in Australia with her new friends and of course, her boyfriend.
How has studying overseas changed yourself?
In Australia, Serena started to live all by herself for the first time without her family. It is hard, but it has taught her how to get used to things, learn skills to explore many places and to be independent. Many first times such as cooking, washing the dishes, dealing with bad manners and problems, contacting for help when something in the house needs to be fixed.
And, unexpectedly, studying in Australia is a lot harder than Serena thought. It is due to her high academic success in primary school in New Zealand that she believed in would be similar the university. However, failing her first uni assignment at UNSW woke her up to become more motivated and focused. Serena’s thinking changed eventually. She knows that she has to try harder due to the advantages of receiving financial support. In short, Serena took every opportunity that she came across.
Talking inspiringly about Journalism
- If you are starting to hate this major, remember that practice will make it better
- Write with passion because writing is a way to express yourself
- Being a part of the news industry helps you keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the world
If you are a UNSW student, why don’t you try to join Blitz magazine like Serena? It will help you to get to know more people even celebrities. Serena said that she had an awesome experience with Blitz where she was fortunate enough to interview and write articles of Jane Saville (Australian Olympian in race walking), Greg Behrendt (American comedian, actor, and writer). “You’ll love it,” said Serena. “It was pretty cool!”
Overcoming homesickness and choosing your way:
- Make good friends with different backgrounds to go through hard times, to hang out and share cultures
- Call parents whenever you feel like you need to.
- Keep in touch with high school mates. They will give advice and be there for you.
- A partner can comfort and mentally support you as well
- Experience life – go for beaches (e.g: Bondi, Coogee), tasty cuisine, cool coffee shops, amusement parks, zoos, picnics and barbecues in the park.
What is your next step in the next few years?
“I do not want to be so sure about the future.”
Serena has plans to live in the moment right now, but also has plans to stay and work in Australia for a few years after graduating. She’s excited for the days when she add more countries to her list of travels which already include Hawaii, Las Vegas, Yellowstone National Park and various cities around China. America or London are other potential work destinations since the publication industry is well-developed there. Time management skills, film industry, and public relations knowledge are also other areas Serena intends to improve on in the future.
What is your new year’s resolution?
“Drink more water, be healthy. Get a job and save money. Work hard in university.”
What would you say to inspire international students?
“Do not be shy. Interact with locals. Branch out. Make new friends. Learn different cultures and languages.”
“Brace yourself before starting anything.”
– Serena Dong
Last modified: February 29, 2016