University can often be a challenging new experience, especially when a student is learning in their second language. When a student excels despite this it is often very inspiring, and this is the case for first year UNE Bachelor of Business student Rami Simoki. 

Rami’s university education may have only begun in 2021, but his learning journey truly started when he began learning English many years earlier. Before coming to Australia, Rami lived in a refugee camp for four years – it was here that he began to learning English as a second language.

“Perhaps you can imagine how difficult that period, before coming here, was,” said Rami describing how he learnt English at the time and eventually moved to Australia. “Indeed, it was very challenging in many respects; financially it was very difficult; mentally it was challenging; and the uncertainty about what the future would look like made it especially difficult.”

“Perhaps the greatest challenge was not being in an English-speaking country while learning the language. And so I was able to speak English well before coming to Australia, however, up until I arrived here, I hadn’t had a chat with a native speaker. Of course, I wasn’t as proficient as I am now, but it did not take me long at all to feel comfortable speaking with others.”

After arriving in Australia as a refugee Rami went to high school where he was able to further hone his second language and continue his education. It was here that he found a spark of passion for studying business, which eventually led to his current undergraduate studies at UNE.

“I did a business subject at school and found it very interesting which gave me the desire and motivation to explore the business world at a more advanced level,” said Rami. “I also like the practical side of this degree whereby the skills you learn can be extremely beneficial to your current employment or your future career and potentially your own business.” 

“I come from a family where they always had their own businesses in different industries, especially farming. However, I am the first in my family to study at a tertiary level. So that gave me some sort of motivation to apply that knowledge to the real world whether it be my future employment or potentially running my own business.”

After completing high school Rami felt he should follow his interest in business to UNE. Since he lived in Armidale and was familiar with the university through sport, it was the natural choice. Although he is still in the early days of his degree, Rami has taken to tertiary study quite well.

“Being in my first year and having started my studies straight after graduating from high school, I don’t see significant achievements yet as such,” notes Rami quite humbly. “However, the fact that I have been able to adopt to a completely different culture, graduate from high school, study at the university level, and to actually getting two HDs in my second trimester, all within the course of three years, makes me think I have come a long way. Especially having gone through some significant challenges but never giving up.”

To assist with his transition to university study Rami has been involved with the ‘Enabling tertiary aspirations and academic success within the Armidale Ezidi community’ HEPPP project – an excellent and beneficial project being run from the UNE School of Education. Leader of this project Associate Professor Robyn Cox noted that the core of the HEPPP project is enabling the success of students such as Rami in the Armidale Community.

Quite naturally university study has been a big shift for Rami, however he described that following his first trimester earlier this year he was able to adjustment quickly and has begun to enjoy the new challenge and different experience of university study.

Being so versatile and committed to learning Rami had some excellent advice when asked if there is anything he would like to share with his fellow students:

“Something that I’ve found to be useful is to do as much preparations as you can in the lead up to an assignment or the final exam. Leaving it to last minute, which I’ve done it myself before, not only places too much stress on you but also makes unlikely for you to get a good result. So, starting early and doing as much as you can is key to avoiding stress and getting good marks.”