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Embracing the Unexpected

The experience of being a New Colombo Plan (NCP) scholar brings with it a multitude of new opportunities, but not everything will always goes the way you may have planned, as some of our alumni attest.

2018 scholar Maxi spent a year in Fiji where a very unexpected lesson she learned was not to plan your time in your new country. “Don’t have expectations of what living in a new country is going to be like because nothing can prepare you,” she said. Everyone’s time overseas is so different and is based on what you do while there and who you meet and spend time with.”

For her, so many opportunities came up to meet people and making connections was important. “There’s always someone that knows someone.” And that’s always a big help if you need answers to anything or where to find things.

Maxi Jerram-Snell in a fruit and vegetable market in Suva, Fiji.
“Don’t have expectations of what living in a new country is going to be like because nothing can prepare you,” Maxi Jerram-Snell.

Oliver, a 2019 scholar, also studied in Fiji and it was his first time living with others his own age. Originally in a hall of residence on campus at the university when he arrived in country, he found that it was quite restrictive and so moved out into a share house with four others which allowed more flexibility. “It showed just how much the people in a house living together can come together and make your own kind of “family unit”,” he said. “I didn’t expect this from living arrangements but was very grateful for being able to build a tight knit group of friends by living in a share house”.

He also said that regardless of your religious beliefs — or not — the Pacific is a very spiritual and very Christian environment which is often used to bring people together in a celebratory way — for any occasion!  “After our paddling event, for example, we would all huddle in a circle and say thanks for the day,” he said. “It could be teachers, students or people from all ages and background — it was simply a way to be thankful and grateful for the opportunity to come together and to give thanks.”

Awarded a 2019 scholarship, James studied in Vietnam and what he found was an unexpected challenge was in his pre-departure planning. He wanted to have everything organised beforehand. “In western culture, we have steps one, two and three, but in Vietnam it might be step four, then step two, then go elsewhere.” He discovered that building relationships once in country was key to overcoming that. “It’s coming from a country where things are usually highly organised to chaos,” he said. “You really have to be there to take up the opportunities, engage with local society and the country to get things done.”

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