Before I met Janice via a Zoom video interview, I guessed from her emails that she was going to be full of optimism, enthusiasm and joy, and that’s exactly how she was. Her energy and spirit were obvious but so was her openness about what led her to Gold Coast, her degree at Griffith Uni and her job. Janice has just turned 25 and is from Guilin in the Guangxi Province of China. I started asking how she ended up studying in Australia – what had led up to that decision?
“I would say I have always wanted to study overseas. But what made it happen was partly the system in China, where I would have had to end up doing a major I didn’t like, in a uni I didn’t like, and even in a city I didn’t like!”
A pretty strong combination and I wondered how she ended up in that situation and how she got out of it?
“Well, the education system is quite extreme in terms of competitiveness due to the large population in China and I had a really tough year 12, feeling that no matter how hard I worked I just couldn’t get a score that would get me where I wanted to go. You study for 12-16 years just for that college entrance exam which determines your major and your uni and you are not allowed to change it unless you go back to do Y12 again. I was so stressed that I nearly ended up with severe anxiety and major issues with self-worth; furthermore, I almost failed to get into any university, but eventually I got into one which I didn’t like. I just felt like I had no choice. I didn’t want to study there and wasn’t enjoying uni life, so I quit. I dropped out and I started to apply to unis overseas. Luckily, I had a good IELTS score which I took originally just because I wanted to improve my English, not apply overseas, but it came in very useful. And I had thought, before I started uni, that I might do a master’s one day abroad and I realised that the difference in cost between a master’s and a bachelor’s wasn’t that great which made me see that I did have a choice, so I just changed my mind and my family fully supported that.”