Meet Samai Bhojwani (she/her/hers)
Program and Location:
Fall, South Australia: University of Adelaide
Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation Biology
Why did you choose to study abroad?
Growing up in Belize is how I realized my passion for Wildlife Conservation. Being from a country with such rich flora and fauna sparked my passion to study conservation in other countries. Which is why I chose Australia. Australia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world and learning from leading professors in their field motivated me to apply.
What did you learn about yourself?
I found that I adapt well to new environments and that I could one day be a part of the field of conservation in Australia.
What was one of your favorite parts of your program?
My favorite part of my program was the connections I made. Adelaide has a huge international population and I got to embrace my own culture while learning about others. I also loved environment. Australia is a very welcoming environment and this made travelling even better. I got to dive in the great barrier reef and hike the oldest rainforest in the world. I somehow expanded my love for nature which I didn’t believe was possible.
How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?
I believe my study abroad experience definitely prepared me for my future career. My goal is to work in wildlife conservation research abroad and I believe studying in Australia opened my mind to a plethora of opportunities. The professors would share their research experiences which showed me positions I had never imagined. I also got to speak with a marine biologist while diving on the great barrier reef and seeing first hand what the coral nurseries are doing for the future of the reefs. I believe that learning how conservation is prioritized and managed in different countries has allowed me to see where I would want to move to and what positions actually interest me.
In what ways did your identity have an impact on your experience abroad?
I believe it enhanced my time abroad. I have learned to embrace my multicultural heritage before going abroad and once I was in Adelaide I was able to share it. There are people from so many different backgrounds living in Adelaide as it is one of Australia’s major cities and I got to learn about theirs while sharing my own. I am a multiracial immigrant and it was very refreshing to have people that shared at least a part of my culture. I was able to meet Hindu friends, which in the south is harder to come by. Since Australia is so close to Asia there are a lot of Asian immigrants. This also meant that the holidays that don’t get any attention in the U.S. because it’s not Christianity finally had their moments to shine. I experienced my first Diwali away from my family. Growing up in Belize I was used to the bigger celebration in the community but in the U.S. there was barely anything. In Adelaide, it was celebrated. From student accommodations giving out food and playing music to the University of Adelaide hosting an entire event with mehndi, food trucks, and live music to temples being just a quick bus ride away. I felt welcomed in the Adelaide community. There was even an Indian student association that held an India night (completely separate from Diwali) and my friends and I got all dressed up in our Kurthas and danced and ate amazing food in a ballroom they rented out. I also had a professor from South Korea, and friends from Japan, and I was able to learn more about the Chinese culture as there is a China Town and large events held there. Unfortunately, there is not a large Latin American or Hispanic community or representation in Australia but I knew that going into this as geography wise it is very far. In regard to being a part of the LGBTQ+ community, I identify as bisexual. I am aware I am straight presenting so I was never worried or had any safety concerns but Adelaide overall is a very accepting place. There are gay clubs, pride month, and an even bigger pride parade throughout the city. I met other friends who were a part of the LGBTQ+ community and loved every moment of it!
Would you do it again?
Yes, a hundred times yes. I have made global connections I will cherish for a lifetime. And was able to experience ecosystems and environments I have only dreamed of as a kid!