Meet current Storey Scholar Harriet Renn. Harriet discusses her time in Mexico.
"I am currently in Guadalajara, Mexico. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Storey Scholarship enabled me to stay when I wanted to, and I have not regretted it for a minute. I felt I had a financial safety net, support and encouragement to continue my experience abroad - despite the uncertainty of the future. I study International Studies so being in a third world country during a pandemic is something that interested me, not something I wanted to turn away from. Watching it unfold has been truly eye opening. "
Before COVID-19 my time in Mexico was already a life changing one. Living in a place where 40% of the population lives in poverty and everyone speaks a foreign language is very different from life in Melbourne. I have learnt so much about myself, the people, the culture, politics and I’ve come so far with my Spanish.
"I am at one of the most prestigious universities in Mexico so this has also been an interesting experience as I’ve really seen two sides of Mexico. The standard of education has been great. My classes have been online since the end of March and they have been functioning really well."
"With classes online I was fortunate enough to join a friend’s family in their small hometown for a month and lock down there."
"I came to Mexico at the start of December 2019, two months ahead of the semester's start date. This was in great part thanks to the Storey Scholarship. I travelled around Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. I surfed on remote beaches, ate all kinds of delicious food, hiked a volcano and did an intensive Spanish course whilst living with a host family. Looking back, I feel I really got everything out of the situation I could have hoped. Especially now as I wouldn't be able to do that. This period of travel helped me become accustomed to Mexico so that when it came to living in Guadalajara I felt well and truly at home."
"I also found a volunteer position at a refugee safe house called FM4 Paso Libre and spent one day a week there before they closed their doors to new refugees and volunteers due to COVID-19. I really miss my time there and am sorry every day for all the people affected by COVID-19 in this way."
"Now I spend my days in my casa in the historical centre. It is an old Spanish Colonial design with lots of green and outdoor space including two large rooftops. I live here with 12 people, so our ongoing isolation is more than okay. Originally there were 24 of us but many students returned to their hometowns, cities or countries abroad. We all stay safe, protecting ourselves and each other, and keep each other company and provide support. I couldn't have asked for a better place to isolate."
"I couldn't have been where I am today without the Storey Scholarship. I feel like I have made the very best of my experience abroad. When I made the decision to stay, going against the grain of all other students returning to Australia, the Storey Scholarship gave me piece of mind. I thought, this is what this is about, pushing the boundaries and seizing opportunity."
Acknowledgement of country
RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer