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RL Rundown - Stephanie

Stephanie has been a member of the IHD community since semester one of 2017. Her leap of faith to apply as a Resident Leader (RL) in semester two that same year has opened the door to personal and professional growth for the ambitious twenty-one-year-old. 

Originally from Penang, Malaysia, Stephanie is studying a Bachelor of Creative Arts and Industries (Communication), majoring in Public Relations and Marketing. Stephanie is one of four children and while being part of a large family meant a lot of love and encouragement, there have also been some sacrifices. Darwin’s proximity to Malaysia and the University’s affordable options made her future study location an easy choice.

“Although the economy is quite tight, my parents still did their best to send the four of us out for further study,” Stephanie said. “They wanted us to look outside our own country and learn from other developed countries.”

Stephanie’s enthusiasm to study overseas had always been apparent, and she knew there would be hurdles.

“Studying overseas has always been my dream, and a lot of people kept telling me that studying alone overseas is not easy because of cultural differences,” she said. “But I always thought that I would easily adapt because Malaysians grow up with primarily three different races.”

Back home, Stephanie was confident working as a model both in photoshoots and catwalks. However, her first few weeks in Darwin took their toll on her confidence, and cultural challenges began to emerge.

“I then realised I was totally wrong when I first came,” Stephanie said. “I could not even keep up with the lecturer’s speaking speed.”

“Not only that, but the lecturer likes to ask opinions from every student in the class. [In Malaysia] my teacher never asked the opinions of students in my past 20 years of education.”

“I was very nervous and kept avoiding eye contact with the lecturer so that she would not point me out to speak in front of the class. I was helpless, feeling depressed and very pressured because I could not raise my grades in the first two semesters, and no matter how hard I tried it seemed I was the worst in my class. The other students are local, and they are all English speaking. The course that I am studying is all about communication and writing.”

Determined to push through, Stephanie has developed her own mantra: “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. When life is dragging me back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch me into something great. So just focus, keep aiming and keep learning.”

Throughout her struggles, Stephanie has looked to her parents and siblings as her strongest motivators.

“My parents have always taught me that the higher the education level I receive, the more knowledge I can gain,” she said. “I have very intelligent siblings in my family and we, as the children, always want to be able to provide our parents with a comfortable life when they are older.”

Knowing she couldn’t improve without further stepping out of her comfort zone, Stephanie sought to become an RL in her second semester. As an RL and member of the IHD community, she has grown as a person and shown professionalism in every aspect.

“To improve, I chose to force myself to interact and socialise with as many people as possible,” Stephanie said. “By communicating with people, I knew I could polish my English.”

“The RL position has taught me to take my responsibilities seriously, be alert and react swiftly when something happens. It’s a very good platform to improve myself.”

Stephanie will continue her degree here in Darwin and enjoys working and being a part of the community. She’s also eager to get out there and explore different destinations.

“IHD is the best place to live, to make friends,” she said. “It’s the best place to work and the best place to explore – because we have residents from all around the world. I never think about ‘which country’ I want to travel to because I want to visit every country in the world.”

What's something people may not know about you?

I can speak three different languages which are Mandarin, English and Malays (Malaysia’s language).

I hate wearing long pants.

I have six meals every day – breakfast, morning tea, lunch, tea break, dinner and supper.

You're a new addition to the crayon box. What colour would you be and why?

Grey. I see the colour grey as an unsure colour because it is the mixture of black and white. This is because I am unsure with my personality too, I can be an extrovert (talk a lot) sometimes, but also introverted. I can be very confident at times, but also lack confident in certain circumstance. I can feel myself being very strong when giving my opinion to other people, but sometimes I totally have no point of view. That is why I see the colour grey as myself, always in the middle of everything.