The unexpected rewards of forcing myself outside of my comfort zone

The unexpected rewards of forcing myself outside of my comfort zone

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Sakshi Kothari made lifetime friends during her exchange.
Photo: Sakshi Kothari

During my time at City University, I have had many excellent opportunities to explore my surroundings. However, I believe my exchange has been the most fruitful activity out of all of them.

During the programme, I had the opportunity to study at the Australian National University for four months.

Before my exchange, I used to associate the phrase “outside your comfort zone” with negative and unwanted experiences.

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I was proud of my ability to live a routine and somewhat monotonous life. However, after my exchange, the meaning of that phrase was completely transformed. I was transformed. I understood the meaning of the quote from the medieval Moroccan scholar Ibn Battuta: “Travelling – it makes you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller.”

Canberra, where the Australian National University is situated, is nothing like Hong Kong. It is quiet, laid-back and uncrowded.

Studying abroad affords you a new perspective.
Photo: Sakshi Kothari

When I first landed at the airport, I was astonished to see so few people. Since I had never travelled beyond Asia, the emptiness of the city bothered me, making me realise how much I was used to the liveliness of Hong Kong. I then decided that I would grab all the opportunities that came my way and absorb the city for what it was.

Since I was sharing an apartment with five other people and had classes all around campus, I had plenty of opportunities to meet new people. Since the university was filled with people of various nationalities, I was exposed to a variety of cultures and practices.

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I would consciously make an effort to venture out of my comfort zone by frequently attending networking events and activities around campus (e.g. Dance Club) in search of new and interesting experiences. And by doing so, I was able to learn a lot of different things.

In no time at all, I found that I was able to develop long-term relationships in a short period of time. I considered this a great – and vital – achievement.

However, this wasn’t my greatest achievement during my exchange. It was in fact the ability to share my story and my experiences with confidence. When I was in Hong Kong, I used to belittle my achievements. I was unable to proudly present my story or describe my experiences because I thought they were insignificant.

After listening to the experiences and stories of the people I met on my exchange, I learned that no story is insignificant, no experience is small. As long as you have someone eagerly listening to you, you can proudly tell them your tale.

Edited by Nicole Moraleda

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
A journey outside my comfort zone


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