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2019 Westpac Scholars – Sam Wall

Sam Wall is currently studying a Bachelor of International Relations with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Geography and minoring in Sociology. In Semester 2, 2019, he will be heading to The University of Hong Kong for one semester. Sam’s program is funded by the Westpac Scholarship, which includes funding his living expenses and participation in a Future Leaders program.

Having only been overseas for the first time in October 2018, Sam is excited to kick-start his career by visiting the huge international city of Hong Kong for his exchange. He is also looking forward to attending an additional Westpac Future Leaders Summit in Shanghai, will also provide him with the networking opportunities he needs for his up and coming career.

“I was born in Adelaide but moved to Port Lincoln when I was quite young. I had a country upbringing, and I think that influences me a little bit in that I was coming to Adelaide and didn’t know anybody. I’m okay with being dropped in the deep end, so to speak. In terms of me as a person, I really do love studying. I enjoy learning. I’ve really enjoyed the university experience. Beyond that, I play basketball and do a lot of reading and writing. I’m more into non-fiction than fiction, especially things surrounding conservation and politics. At the end of reading all my weekly readings, I don’t mind doing my own recreational reading as well. I like multi-disciplinary academics and find it easy to read and gain interest in things.”

“There’s two things that made me want to go on exchange. I do definitely have an interest in Asia and in building that relationship between Australia and Asia. Coming from a background of international relations, I have an understanding of the increasing importance of the Asian region. Most of the world lives in Asia, and it’s a great area for looking at how we tackle global change. The other thing I’m interested in is transferring my classroom knowledge into real-world experience.”

“I’m nervous about a few things. Even though I have gone overseas before, it can sometimes be such an overwhelming experience when you’re in these big, global cities with so many people and so much happening. I want to try and get involved in extra-curricular activities while I’m over there. Hong Kong is also a very international university as well, so I’m not only interested in meeting people from Asia, but people from all around the world.”

“I’d say I’m most excited to check out the urban and political geography. Urban geography is the study of space within an urban area. To relate it to a real-world concept: when I went to Thailand last year, one of my favourite things was just experiencing the city of Bangkok. I’d been to Melbourne and Sydney, but having not been out of Australia I hadn’t really experienced those huge cities before. One of my favourite things was just being on the buses and driving around the city, looking around. Political geography a good crossroads between international studies and geography. It’s the idea of how a space is governed and how things are governed within a space.”

“Throughout the whole process of applying for the Westpac Scholarship, I stayed in close contact with the Study Overseas team. Last year I applied for the NCP Scholarship but I wasn’t successful, but I developed a good relationship with some of the staff and they encouraged and guided me through the process of applying for Westpac. It was a little surreal when I’d found out that I’d actually gotten it. Not only having the financial support of being able to go overseas but having access to the 100 Scholars network – that was something I was really interested in. A network of young intelligent people who have similar interests in trying to build those Asia-Australia ties – I was very excited to be a part of that. I do remember the day I found out, it was quite overwhelming at first but then it slowly sunk in. I realised ‘this is actually going to happen’.

Sam hopes to take courses in politics, geography, and sociology while in Hong Kong, but is open to try other classes as well.
“I have thought about learning a language. I started Japanese when I first started university but found it too difficult, then I did a bit of French to fulfil the language requirement of my degree. I’d certainly revisit it if I get a lot of connections and networking opportunities in Hong Kong – I can see how a language would be beneficial there. I’d say I’m not naturally good at learning a language, but I’d like to reconsider it down the track. Hong Kong teaches classes in English, which as someone who doesn’t have a flair for languages, was a good thing to still have the same opportunities as students who do find picking up languages easier.”

“I’ve had different ideas about where I want to go with my degree. At the moment I’m looking more into the research kind of things, whether it be academic research or policy research. Like I said earlier, I love learning and the university experience. I’d love to convert those skills into a job. I’m doing an internship this semester with Dr Minerva Nasser-Eddine in the Department of Politics & International Relations department. She runs her own business in international migration. I’m doing a research project with her, which is really the first thing I’ve done outside of the University within the research area. I’m really looking forward to working with her. I’ll take all the experience I can get to get that real world experience before pursuing the career path I want.”

In ten years, Sam would like to be working somewhere in research, and has considered being behind-the-scenes in the government or the private sector. He is also open to teaching at University and becoming a tutor. He can see himself as someone who will “jump around the field a bit” and is excited to see where life takes him.

“I know a lot of people who don’t study overseas who are doing quite well, but turning that classroom knowledge into real world experience gives you that international edge over everyone else. It makes it easier when you graduate and apply for graduate programs and things like that. Having those international experiences is more personally fulfilling as well. It shows you’re willing to take the challenge and make the uncomfortable more comfortable.”

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