BSSC Year 12 student, Chandi Whitewolf, was in Year 8 when she and a friend began considering joining an exchange program.

“I love learning about other cultures but I wanted to go somewhere most people haven’t been. During lockdown I took an interest in Korean Language and then discovered there were opportunities for student exchanges to South Korea.”

For five life-changing months in late 2023 Chandi immersed herself in Korean culture.

She attended school and stayed with the same—wonderful—host family in a city near the southern end of the Korean peninsula, in the state of Daegu.

Although not fluent, Chandi picked up enough Korean language to get around and, luckily, most Koreans can speak English.

When the hot weather gave way to snow, Chandi was delighted. But it was the people who made the exchange particularly special.

“There were not many foreigners in the area where I was staying,” she says, “but I made some fantastic Korean friends as well as connecting with other international students.

“I keep in contact with them and will go back in April for ten days to celebrate my 18th birthday.”

Chandi loved the food, the Karaoke bars, and the late-night retail hours. She also admired the way urban areas are highly concentrated, leaving tracts of forest between cities—a very different layout to sprawling Australian cities that made travel
much more efficient.

All up, the experience has built confidence in Chandi for future travel in Asia and she insists you never get lost when travelling—you just take detours!

While Chandi has had a positive international experience, she is frustrated by unresolved conflicts across the globe.

“Why are there still wars?” she asks. “Why can’t we learn to get along?

“We’re fundamentally all the same, all facing the big problem of Climate Change and we won’t be able to fix it until world leaders can get on the same page.”

Chandi says the fact people from a different culture might have a different opinion is not wrong. “It just shows they’ve had a different upbringing.”

Prior to her trip to Korea, Chandi was all set to study Law. However, she now knows she doesn’t want a job that cannot be adapted to other countries and cultures.

“I know I want to work overseas and have talked this through with my Mum—who is a lawyer—and she assured me that legal qualifications can be adapted to new legal systems if I’m willing to study their legislation once I settle somewhere.”

However, Chandi is also considering two other, more portable, careers: teaching and nursing.

“Being an English teacher is a position that is very in-demand across Asia.”

Back in Australia, the Year 12 student says she thinks BSSC is ‘progressive’ and a college she recommends.

“The number of courses, how the college values diversity and respects individuality, how students are trusted to use their frees as they need to, brings a sense of freedom.”

Connections with her teachers mean a lot to her too.

Chandi admits she sometimes needs pushing and appreciates when her teachers do this. Her favourite subject is Legal Studies, with English Literature also a fave.

Chandi’s academic achievements are all the more impressive because she must deal with the challenges of ADHD—mostly this manifests at school in being frequently distracted by other things going on around her.

Despite these challenges, Chandi has worked out that studying with a friend is a really effective and efficient approach for her.

“We get so much done. I think it’s also important to sit down with a goal and a time limit—and use study periods to study!”

De-stressing is important for anyone, but for those with ADHD, everyday life can be exhausting, so sleep is a critically important de-stressor for Chandi.

Chandi often unwinds by going for a drive in the car or listening to music—Radiohead is a big favourite, but she loves heaps of different music.

“I also love talking—just ask my family and friends!”

Chandi has two part-time jobs—one at Bunja Thai, and one as a supervisor at the recently-opened Augustus Gelato shop.

Alongside all this, she has been playing volleyball for almost five years and hopes to add her skills to the college’s volleyball team.

Asked about who impresses her, Chandi names her mum.

“I’m so grateful for the way she raised me and my siblings, and for all the opportunities she supported me to go for. It really impresses me that she returned to uni as a mature-aged student to study Law.

Chandi’s mum also survived a cancer scare that made Chandi and her family realise how generous extended family and neighbours can be in highly stressful situations.

“If I could give my young self some advice, I’d say: ‘Be a bit less weird’. But I’d also reassure myself that the hard stuff will pass and tell myself to push through and keep doing the personal work to mature.

“I’m proud of those times I have put myself out there, not limited by fears of others’ opinions.”