Souphaphone is a Study Melbourne Ambassador. Study Melbourne has 15 international student and alumni ambassadors for 2019. During their time as ambassadors, they regularly share insights and experiences to help international students have a great experience while studying here in Victoria. 

I encourage you to take a leap!

By Souphaphone Thoommavongsa

Playing it safe is the easy option but we don’t grow when we don’t push ourselves. We evolve as people when we take risks and get out of our comfort zone.

How many times have you given up before even starting? Whether it’s starting a new business, applying for a new job, public speaking or even asking someone for a date; the fear of failure sometimes takes over.

I encourage you to take a leap – learn to love feeling uncomfortable.

But first you need to change your mindset. Believing that you can do and become whatever you want is the first important step.

Here are some of my tips on how to take those little steps.

Speak up in every class

In some cultures, it is considered being impolite to question teachers but in western culture it is a great way to learn and teachers enjoy the interaction.

Before attending every class, set yourself a goal to speak up at least once – whether it be to ask a question or give your point of view on a topic.  This is a great way to overcome fear as it allows us to speak to the class and practise public speaking and English skills.  This strategy can also improve our studies.  To be able to give an opinion, we need to understand the lecture therefore paying closer attention to the lectures and thinking more critically.


Volunteering is an amazing and practical way to get outside of our comfort zone. Unlike being in a working environment, volunteering allows us to obtain professional knowledge and skills in a low risk environment – and is a great way to quickly advance your career.

Apart from that, volunteering provides us with opportunities to connect with the community and people from different backgrounds who share the same values.

More importantly, volunteering can enhance our well-being as it can bring joy, excitement and fulfilment into our lives as we get chance to help others, work with likeminded people and contribute to making the world a better place.

Some useful websites for volunteering opportunities are:

GoVolunteer -

Volunteering Victoria -

Seek Volunteer -

Attend events

Attending events give us opportunities to explore new ideas and cultures. It is a great way to get out from our own bubble and open up to new experiences where we can discover new ideas and perspectives. More importantly, joining events is the good start to create network in professional field or making new friends who have similar interests.  Check out the events on the Study Melbourne website and Eventbrite.

Try new things

Getting stuck in your comfort zone can be a result of doing the same job, hanging with the same people and eating the same food. Boring!

It’s exciting to try new things – you never regret the opportunities you take, only the ones you let slip past you.

For instance, going for a road trip that you have not been before with a group of friends, making new friends from different nationalities, taking a public speaking course, writing a blog, taking a dance class or applying for a scholarship. We cannot broaden our knowledge, explore new opportunities or have new experiences if we keep doing the same things.

We all fear stepping into the unknown, we all feel insecure to do something different and therefore we choose to only do things that we are familiar with and often miss out so many amazing opportunities.

This life is short, unpredictable and precious so do not hold back.

international student at mt buller

About the author

Souphaphone has a passion for human rights and volunteering, with experience in her home country of Laos and in Melbourne. She hopes to support the international student community in Victoria to inspire people and make a positive impact.  Meet the 2019 Study Melbourne Student Ambassadors.

Souphaphone Thoommavongsa