Xiaolei Zhai.
Xiaolei Zhai.
Program: Bachelor of Agribusiness
Country of Origin: China
Why did you choose to study in Australia and at UQ?
I had little hesitation to choose this worldwide Top 1% ranking university – The University of Queensland. However, it took long to make a decision on which program to apply for. My parents provided me with general advice but they were not able to help me make the final decision. As such, I did everything on my own from the moment I downloaded the application form. A future career was the first factor that I took into consideration. I was a science student at high school and would like to become a banker or industry professional. As such, I wanted my program to focus on either science, engineering or business. Secondly, the program had to correspond to my strength and interests, which include mathematics, business and computer science. Moreover, because I graduated from Junior College in Singapore and had studied for 4 years already, I had no difficulties with English but I did talk to UQ international admission officers during the open house in Singapore who provided me lots of assistance for my decision. I looked at the program list once again and I realized that the Bachelor of Agribusiness would be my first choice. It is the study of business but in the landscape of the food and fibre industry. The courses of this program are directed towards my interests. It should be highlighted that a degree in Agribusiness opens the door to a wide range of career options which finally confirmed my decision. Of course there is also the option to continue my studies by doing a postgraduate program - from an honours year to a PhD. 
What were your first impressions of Brisbane?
To be honest, before I came to Australia, I did not actually take note of the campus that I was going to stay at - the Gatton campus. I liked St. Lucia campus especially the architectural design of the buildings. I was impressed with the scholastic environment, the busy pace and the modern facilities. However, I do love Gatton campus more although it is smaller in size. It is quieter here and just a perfect place to study rather than hanging out with friends and shopping. Even though it is smaller than the main St Lucia campus, it is more beautiful. And, in my opinion, living in a rural area is much more joyful. Most importantly, you can still find everything you need at Gatton campus and every staff member will be there to help you.
What are your impressions of science at UQ?
I am very impressed by the study environment at the university – mainly the relationship between students and tutors. Most science students at Gatton Campus prefer investigative and laboratorial study which means that you will see more students at a lab or library rather than sitting in groups in the classroom. Independent and investigative learning is vital to a UQ science student.
I was also very pleased to receive a Dean’s Commendation Award for High Achievement last year which has made me put even more effort into the study of science.
Science is not just about precision and accuracy, but also about passion and attitude. There are just so many variables that come into play for any scientific question that you have no idea of when and where a challenge will arise – one of the attractions of UQ science.  
What extracurricular activities are you involved in?
Before entering university I always enjoyed being part of school clubs relating to leadership and science. I used to be a member of the Student Union and the Science lub at High School but now I prefer getting involved in something where I can obtain more experience, something that can equip me with more social skills and professional experience. Currently I am a member of the UQ Student Ambassador scheme which helps out with major university events and open days. I love being part of the UQ society and enhancing student lives here.  For academic activities I am a casual tutor for MATH1040 and one of the leaders of the PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) program. It is just great to have this experience and to contribute to our university’s teaching and learning. 
Do you have any advice for students that are thinking about studying Science at UQ?
Studying science at UQ is wonderful and mysterious. You must be patient and be willing to accept challenges. Learning comes from mastering difficulties. However, to all students form my country and any other non-English speaking countries, try to work hard on improving your English language skills as this will help you with your study of science at UQ.
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