Published: 10 January 2018

Final year engineering student turns reality TV star

Ashley Pierre - DifferencesAside

Final year Aerospace Engineering student, Ashley Pierre, has recently returned from participating in an international reality television show filmed in Malaysia. In this article he talks about his experience of the show whilst juggling his final year project deadlines and January exam preparation:

On the 7th December I set off on a two week, all expenses paid trip to Malaysia to participate in a reality TV show.

The program is called DifferencesAside and I was one of 9 participants, all from different countries, brought together for the purpose of interacting and exploring the Malaysian Island of Langkawi.

I have already been lucky enough to travel some countries in South East Asia through travelling during my study abroad years in China, however I had never been to Malaysia so this was a great opportunity. I was the UK participant and the other 8 participants were from Australia, USA, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Dubai, China, India and Japan.

The program aims to increase awareness of the beautiful island that is called Langkawi, whilst showing how people from different backgrounds and cultures can come together in harmony and enjoy experiences. Each day was packed full of amazing experiences, ranging from exploring Langkawi’s numerous geo-forests and doing water activities to partaking in more cultural activities and interacting with locals through learning about local life and traditions.

Being a final year student with a project interim deadline during this trip and four January exams to prepare for, some would have argued taking part in this program was not advisable. However, I saw it as an amazing opportunity to do something different and I knew if I was focused then I could take part in the program whilst successfully completing my project interim deadline and revising. Therefore I took my laptop and lecture notes with me and every spare period of time I got between filming and activities I worked on my project interim report. After exciting yet exhausting days when I would just want to sleep, I would attempt to get through some of my report and revise some lecture content.

At the start of this experience I would never have expected to have built such great relationships with the other 8 participants and the production team as I did. By the end of the two weeks it was almost as if we were a little family, as we had come to rely on each other every day. It was a really interesting experience to be a part of a group in which all nine of us originate from different backgrounds and cultures. Instead of this being a catalyst for dysfunction within the group, in my opinion it was our differences that allowed us to understand each other more and therefore to connect and bond to the extent that we did.

I have no doubt this program will achieve its objective and increase interest and discussion around everything Langkawi has to offer, whilst showing how the world is truly a global place and that we, as humans, have more similarities than differences.

Interviews and content from the series will feature on major network channels such as CNN and TLC, whilst content will also be featured in Time magazine. In addition, each episode will be released on YouTube with the first episode already online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfBgnB5pS2c&t=2s.

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