Waiting with an “Aussie” chill at Jazzman’s Café, her silver bracelet jingles a sweet melody while she turns the spoon around her coffee. A psychology book sits on her right and a vintage Chanel bag on her left, and her eyes wander around as if trying to capture the moment. Dressed in a trendy black dress, white lace tights and a mustard-colored designer trench coat, one could believe that she’s straight out of an issue of Vogue. But actually, it’s Australian exchange student Amanda Ho.
Born to Malaysian migrants in Perth, Australia, Amanda Ho crossed many oceans before deciding to put down her luggage in Binghamton University for this semester.
A junior majoring in psychology, she describes Australia as a sunny and relaxing place, but also remains strongly attached to her original home country and nationality.
“I go to Malaysia once a year,” Amanda said. “I have a very close family there.”
Along with her annual trip to her homeland, Ho keeps up her family tradition and travels around the world.
“I always knew there was so much to see, and so many people to meet,” she said.
Rocking the “Japanese Umbrella” tattooed on her wrist, Ho said that it symbolizes her trip to Japan. She said that each of her tattoos represents a country she has seen.
During the summer, this rock and roll music fan back-packed around 11 cities in Europe, including Amsterdam, London, Paris, Venice and Barcelona.
“Traveling has taught me a lot,” Amanda said. “The first time I was completely panicked in Amsterdam, and then I adapted myself. I made great friends during my trips and most of them were Americans.”
It was just a matter of time before she landed in the United States. And for this adventure, she chose to study for a semester at Binghamton University.
“Well, America was the next destination on my list, but also because I read so much about it, and saw a lot of movies and I wanted to see it by myself,” she said with a smile. “I also chose Binghamton because I like to experience different things and visit unexpected places. I mean, in America the culture is so rich. Even if some of the clichés are true, each state is like a single country and has its own culture.”
A photography aficionado, it’s not rare to see her with a camera in hand, walking around, capturing creative and magical moments. Ho also joined the Photography Club, as a member and secretary, to complete her study abroad experience.
“What I like in photography is to catch a beautiful moment, and share my passion for it with my friends,” Amanda said. “I learn so much about the technical things, in Australia we do not have clubs so it was a chance for me to be surrounded by other photographers.”
And Ton Baas, a senior majoring in economics and her close friend, agreed that Amanda is driven by her passions.
“She is a crazy Aussie who does what she wants,” he said.
With her creative, wild and atypical personality, Amanda breaks the stereotypes, proving that one personality can combine the spirit of elegance, an open mind, a dedication to education and a love of partying with friends.
“I spent my time between my studies, photography, fashion blogs, movies and most importantly hanging out with my friends,” she said.
Lauren Tilmans, a senior majoring in psychology, feels that Amanda really puts forth an amazing effort at being a great friend.
“Amanda is incredibly gracious and kind,” Lauren said. “She has this ability to be a bright student, to make excellent cocktails, bakes cakes and drive you to the perfect vintage clothing store.”
This January, Amanda will end her journey in the U.S. by spending a few weeks in New York City, specifically the East Village, a place she has fallen in love with. And after a warm family reunion, she will add another continent to her list, South America.
“Coming from a foreign family, I feel that there is a lot to see outside Australia … and a lot of people to meet,” Amanda said.
Before her American journey ends, she hopes to enjoy every single day she has left in Binghamton.
“Each day is so different,” she said. “I am meeting great people and everyone gets involved in Binghamton, and I want to be a part of that.”