Moving out of comfort zone to achieve more goals

Harriet Huỳnh left her home country of Vietnam to finish high school at Gungahlin College to enhance her cultural awareness.

“I came to Canberra in 2019 to complete my final two years of high school, and will stay for university to study Business Informatics at the University of Canberra,” says Harriet.

“I decided to step out of my comfort zone as I wanted to learn new things and achieve more goals in my life. My comfort zone is a huge aspect of how I define myself and studying abroad is a great opportunity for me to experience and enhance my cultural awareness.

“Apart from studying here, I also volunteer with the ACT Vietnamese Youth & Student Association (ACT-VYSA), which aims to connect the Vietnamese community with all other international communities around Canberra to promote and exchange cultural ideas, traditions and events.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have helped the ACT-VYSA team make masks and distribute them to students in need. By doing this, we quickly found out how vulnerable international students are during the crisis.

“The uncertainty and stress of the global outbreak, plus spending time in quarantine, can take a serious mental toll. As schools and businesses closed, people became stressed and anxious.

“We also hosted many mini-events to encourage community engagement, like the ‘Stay Positive after COVID-19 with ACT-VYSA’ competition, where people could submit a poem and win prizes.

“My advice to international students living away from home, especially during this global crisis, is to slow down, take a rest and look after your mental health.

“Try to keep in touch with your family, even if you are a thousand miles apart from them. COVID-19 has been discouraging for everyone but this new challenge and experience is a wonderful way to make ourselves become more adaptable, more resilient, and healthier.”

Help is available if you or someone you know needs mental health support.

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