IF there are two perceptions of international students that China’s Nichole Ni would like to change, they’d be that students can’t speak English, and come to Australia only to indulge their lifestyles. What stereotypes would you be keen to debunk?
What’s your name, and how old are you?
My name is Nichole, named after Nichole Kidman. My friends will also call me Nikky or, just Nic. As for my age, well, that’s a secret I will never tell.
Where are you from? Where and what course or program are you doing?
I am from Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong Province in South China, where Yum Cha and Dim Sum originated. I just finished a Masters of Banking and Finance in Monash University and am going to enrol into a Masters of Professional Accounting this March.
How long have you been in Melbourne for and why did you choose to come to Melbourne?
I’ve been here for one and a half years so far. I would rather say it is Melbourne that chose me. Strangely enough among all the universities and colleges I have applied only those from Melbourne have issued me the offers. I truly believe I was fated to be here.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is more of an art than a skill to me. It is multi-faceted – a leader has the ability to coordinate, organise, is effective, and has charisma.
What or who do you draw inspiration from, and why?
Steve Jobs. He is an innovative and visionary leader around the globe, and it inspires me that he dares to think differently and to make a change.
If you could champion one cause for international students in Melbourne, what would it be?
People have a negative stereotype towards international students, especially those from Asian countries, that they are in Australia not to study, but to indulge their lifestyles, such as frequenting pubs, casino, or buying luxury cars and products.
I don’t deny that there is such a thing, but the fact is they probably only make up 5 per cent of the international student population. The remaining 95 per cent are studying, working and living a life as serious as a heart attack. I hope people will see the bigger picture of us international students as a whole.
What, in your opinion, is the most common misunderstanding/stereotype that people have of international students in Melbourne?
Linguistic fluency. On several occasions when I have told people I’m from China, they’d go, “Wow, your English is fluent; I thought you’re from elsewhere.”
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Watch a movie, catch up with friends, do some casual reading and cooking.
What are your other talents/hobbies outside the classroom?
Sports, especially all kinds of “balls” (except soccer). I came in second place in a university-wide badminton mixed-doubles and a faculty-wide volleyball competition back when I was still doing my undergrad. Recently, I have discovered an interest in snooker, but I’m just started to learn how to play.
I also like outdoor activities, such as hiking and bush walking. I also like travelling and photography. I want to use the camera to document my experiences.
Where is your favourite spot to hang out in Melbourne?
There are a lot to name, NGV, St Kilda beach and Lygon street (because of the food).
What song gets you pumped or excited? Think Eye of the Tiger or Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” or any Bon Jovi track.
Almost none, it is peace that I seek from music.
If I had a million dollars I would…. establish a fund that endorses those international students who want to start-up their own business. I would evaluate their prospects and provide eligible candidates with micro-debts to run their business.
If I only had $5 I would…. spend two dollars on bread, and donate the rest to a charitable organisation.
Nicole is among the 20 international student leaders selected to take part in the City of Melbourne’s EDGE 2012 program.