Raised in China, Bowen Zhang moved to Tasmania in 2007 to study a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at the University of Tasmania (UTAS).
He then went on to complete an Honours in Biomedical Science in 2013 followed by a Master of Bioinformatics in Melbourne in 2019.
Settling into Tasmania
He was drawn to studying in Australia due to the welcoming culture, cost of living and proximity to his family. He settled on Tasmania based on the quality of the university courses offered at UTAS and the friendly, down-to-earth nature of the locals.
During his time studying in Tasmania, Bowen also worked part-time to assist with his cost of living.
While studying for his Bachelor’s degree, he worked part-time as a kitchen hand in a local restaurant after his classes. During his semester breaks, he also found work on rural farmstays. When he began his Honours course, he started working at Launceston Pathology as an assistant laboratory technician, as well as volunteering at the nearby Mount Pleasant Laboratories.
As if he wasn’t busy enough with work and study, Bowen also made it his mission to set up a Chinese student club for UTAS students.
“When I first came to Launceston, there was no Chinese student association,” he says. “I wanted to set up a student club to help new Chinese students to get started in their new life, make new friends and explore their new home.”
One of the benefits of starting the club, according to Bowen, was that he got to make a lot of new friends too. Being a part of the club helped him feel confident in the broader social circles of university, and he was able to create new connections and practise his English.
He also organised a number of low-cost trips for the club’s members, allowing them to explore Tasmania and take time to relax outside of their busy study schedules.
Starting a global career
After completing his studies in Tasmania, Bowen was given the opportunity to move to Melbourne as a medical scientist in microbiology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Due to the pandemic, this was a very busy time for him, as he was part of the COVID-19 testing team. He was also fortunate enough to be involved with the research team that validated the use of saliva in testing for COVID-19.
Today, Bowen is working as a laboratory manager at a biological company, where he works on next-generation sequencing for research and clinical purposes.
The pandemic is still keeping him busy, but when he does have some downtime, he likes to get out and explore more of what Australia has to offer.
“I like road trips, going to the beach and bushwalking. Just like most Australians,” he says.
While living in Tasmania, Bowen spent quite a lot of time travelling around the east coast of the island. One of his favourite places to visit was the Bay of Fires. Extending for 50 kilometres from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point, the Bay of Fires is one of Tasmania’s most iconic stretches of coastline. Its clear blue waters, bright white sand and famous border of red and orange boulders makes it definitely worth a visit.
“It’s so nice and peaceful,” says Bowen.
Currently, Bowen is a lab manager in Cambridge, England. He plans to work in Europe for a few years, and then he may return to China. Although his working life takes up much of his schedule these days, he still makes time to keep in touch with the wonderful connections he made while studying in Tasmania.
Ready to start your studies overseas?
Bowen’s advice is to make the most of the social opportunities that studying abroad gives you.
“Tasmania is a good place to go. Try to join social clubs and student associations, and don’t lock yourself at home,” he says.
Bowen also says that keeping in touch with family and friends from home is a very important part of grounding yourself in a new country. Making use of social media apps and instant messaging helped Bowen to feel like he was still connected to his loved ones back in China.