University of Westminster Exchange- Go west (or north, south, east…) and discover!

Alexander Aikman- Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Creative Industries

University of Westminster, England (Semester 1, 2019)

Watch a vlog about my exchange experience here (https://youtu.be/zSIpYb5KQ-I), or  read on below instead! 

UK, England, London. The University of Westminster is located in central London. The campus is compact and modern in its layout. One of the best parts about university life for me was playing rugby for Westminster. Joining a sports team was a great way to connect with people and I would highly recommend it for anyone going on exchange.

As expected, the cost of rent and groceries within London was steep. However, there are a lot of discounts on offer for students including a discounted travel card for the tube and bus services. There were also a lot of free attractions to be taken advantage of during my exchange. These included the British Museum, Borough and Camden Markets as well as Hyde Park to name a few.

Another one of London’s perks is the travel. Trains from London go across the UK allowing for easy exploration across the country on weekends. Better still were the cheap flights across Europe. I spent much of my free time travelling to other countries. Every holiday and long weekend I would travel somewhere new. Travelling to Norway with friends from Uni and travelling solo across southern Europe were true highlights of my trip. And I would encourage anyone to try travelling both in a group and on your own.

The exchange program is an opportunity to try new experiences. The best advice I can offer is explore as much as you can. Travel to someplace different. Meet new people from other countries and experience their culture. Finally, if you’re going to a big city such as London, then be travel smart. A healthy dose of paranoia and scepticism will save you a lot of grief. But above all, make your exchange memorable.

 

My awesome exchange to BI Norwegian Business School

Hai Ling- Bachelor of Business (International Business Major)

BI Norwegian Business School, Norway (Semester 1, 2019) 

I spent three weeks in the UK prior to going to Oslo, to visit family and reunite with old friends, I spent three weeks trying to prepare myself for the next six months. But how are you supposed to prepare for something like this? How do you ready yourself, physically and mentally for something like this? Even after the exchange I still can’t answer that question, truthfully I don’t think you can, you simply put the pieces together as you go.

Now I’d never lived away from home by myself before, not in another country let alone the other side of the planet, this experience was completely new to me. I knew no one going there and I knew no one when I got there. But the next six months would change me completely, in what was and will always remain the greatest and most beneficial experience in my life so far. I would make lifetime friends from completely different countries, many of whom I would visit and see again after the exchange when I traveled across Europe. I would create memorable experiences with those friends that will stay with me forever, events I will never forget and people I will always miss.

I arrived in Oslo at midday on the 31st of December 2018. It had not yet dawned on me what was to come, I still couldn’t fully grasp the idea that for the next six months I would be living here, sleeping here, studying here, thousands and thousands of kilometers from my home, my family, my friends… and my cat.
Very few times during my trip did I get close to that realisation, I think the whole time I was just too engulfed in the whole experience, so much so that I couldn’t fully understand the extent of what was really going on. Not that it was a bad thing, instead  that it was something new, different and so far out of my comfort zone that it had to be done.

I remember my first time getting to Kringsjå, the suburb and student village where I would live for the next six months, I had met an Aussie by pure chance at the housing registration place in Blindern, and we both made our way up there. Funnily enough we ended up in the same building, three levels apart. It was an impressive place, practically a suburb designed for students, the accommodation there ranged from private individual rooms, shared apartments to family apartments. Of the many towering buildings, mine stood tall close to the front, Building 8, to be my home for the next six months. I had managed to get a room on the 9th floor, at the top of the building, and with it, an amazing view of the mountains and tree lines. At that point they were brown, almost dead, covered with snow, something I found to be truly awesome because that is something you would never see back home in Brisbane. Also something that would provide a base of understanding, because in six months’ time those trees would be bright as day and as colourful as a painters pallet.

BI wasn’t a breeze, it wasn’t incredibly difficult either, but it was by no means easy. trhis wasn’t a university where I could catch up after the lecture or tutorial, you had to go to class and you had to take part. BI only hosts a fraction of the number of students that QUT can boast, something that makes them focus on micro development in ways that QUT can’t. I am in no way saying that QUT is unable to, simply that with increased volume, things begin to get diluted. Professors have much closer relationships with students, classrooms are smaller, and students can engage more. I feel that small scale teaching makes for a more passionate learning environment which I really enjoyed. Something different that you take note of having studied in a huge university like QUT.

I had classes two days a week, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s. Wednesday night was kroa night (the BI uni bar), Friday’s were snowboarding days and weekends tended to be occupied by parties and events that people planned (trips out of the city or hiking, often we would have dinners together too). The nightclub scene in Oslo is unimpressive if you’re used to large city night life like Brisbane or Sydney though. The Norwegian people come off as introverts, they seem wary of outsiders almost, that is until you get them drinking, there’s a funny book on the guide to Norwegian culture. Below is the front page, I can’t even begin to explain how true it is.

I really enjoyed my time at BI, it was an architecturally impressive and aesthetically pleasing campus. A single building dominating the area, the size of a small warehouse with multiple floors above and a floor cut into the ground, designed as a cube almost, it has 4 sections of which it hosts classes, A through to D. In the ground floor, a cafeteria where they cooked new and interesting food each day, that was decently priced for how much you got. I mean simple stuff like rice and stew, but even that is a culinary explosion from the same two minute noodles you’ve been sustaining yourself on for the past semester or two… maybe three. The classrooms are modern, similar to the style of classrooms at QUT, of the four subjects I did, two of them taught in lecture format, two in tutorial. Classes were small, even in lectures, the lecture room looked like it could fit maybe 100 to at best 150 students max. But never full, they were smaller, more intimate, the same goes for the tutorial format classes, these were regular subjects, one class a week sort of thing, not enough students to use a lecture hall, but enough that made the class worthwhile.

My advice to students considering going in exchange, it’s really simply, socialise as much as you can find time for. Meeting new people and making new friends, it sounds simple, but I have never been a super social person, I’ve always been comfortable being around the same few people, so to reach out into new groups was something I wasn’t entirely comfortable with. But I’m glad I did. It’s friends that make the experience so much more worth it, I went on multiple trips to different cities and different country’s with the friends I made there. We would always have parties and look to invite people that we met, I met a really good mate of mine simple because he was going to throw out the rubbish in shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops…. in the middle of winter whilst it was snowing! We were huddled outside the door chatting, and we spoke to him a laughed about it. He came out with us to a pub that night and become very close, we still talk.

I wanted to write for the QUT Global blog after my exchange because I wanted to be able to tell people how amazing my experience has been, but writing this now, I don’t quite know what to say! I could talk about how the food at the cafeteria in BI was actually pretty good, or how we did a bus trip across Sweden for a week, jumped in a frozen lake and saw the most beautiful northern lights all in one night. Hiking for three hours through knee deep snow? How about going snowboarding with my Brazilian mate for every week of the winter season? Having Australia day on a frozen lake, drinking wine and listening to bush music? There is too much to share, too many hilarious stories, truly great moments with great people. The consistent shenanigans that this trip held, the constant laughter, the unforgettable memories.

Rarely in life do you have memories so good that you can revisit them in your mind and every time smile or laugh about it. Many times I’ve had people stare at me like a moron because I’ve done this in public and burst out laughing. They don’t know, they can’t understand. To understand required them to be there and they weren’t, don’t consider going on exchange to be just an opportunity, consider not going to be a missed one.

The best 6 month of my life in Copenhagen, Denmark

Raphael Ebeling, Bachelor of Laws (Honours)

Copenhagen Business School, Semester 1, 2019

For my first semester of 2019, I studied abroad at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. The overall experience was easily the best 6 months of my life. I experienced so many different things you never get the chance to studying in your home country and city. Meeting people from all across the world (and Australia!), making lifelong friends, living in another culture and visiting so many other countries made this all possible. I would highly recommend it to anyone considering studying abroad. Here are some of the key aspects of exchange and my personal opinions for prospective exchange students:

Copenhagen climate

Denmark is quite far north and is accordingly a much colder climate than Brisbane! Be prepared for a fair share of overcast days and a lot of wind. This affects so many aspects of Danish culture and their way of life. They spent a lot more time indoors, but also make up for it by making the most of every nice, warm day they have. I personally like the cold, but if you’re looking to study abroad in a similar climate to Brisbane, Copenhagen may not be for you.

Frederiksberg Gardens on one of Copenhagen’s nicer, summer days

Danish culture and language

The Danes are also more reserved than Australians. They’re definitely not as outgoing and animated as we are. But that’s not because they’re rude or impolite – it’s just a different psyche. Don’t let this put you off trying to make Danish friends! What makes things easier is everyone’s English is almost perfect – you could spend your entire exchange there without speaking a word of Danish. However, I would personally recommend giving the language a try – whether you take the semester-long Danish language subject, the introductory crash course or even just use Duolingo, it’s much more culturally immersing and satisfying to try and pick it up.

Accommodation

I was staying in a dorm with other students, which was organised through my host university. However, there is often not enough space at dorms for all the incoming exchange students, meaning some people end up needing to organise their own accommodation privately. I would definitely recommend trying to get dorm! You’ll meet so many people from around the world and make lifelong friends. It’s be so much easier to spend time with people and plan things to do. If a dorm sounds like it’s for you, make sure you’re on top of application times and deadlines! I missed most of my higher dorm preferences because I jumped on the application 2 minutes late!

Another thing to consider is whether you want to stay with other exchange students or locals. I stayed at a dorm with other exchange students, which has let me build up an international network of friends, as well as some new Australian ones. However, there is 1 dorm (Tietgen Kollegiet) which predominantly houses Danish students. If you’re looking to meet and spend heaps of time with locals, apply for Tietgen, but keep in mind you probably won’t meet many internationals. It just depends on the kind of experience you’re after!

My dorm, Holger Danskes Vej

Leeds: The beating heart of Yorkshire

Paris T. Bachelor of Entertainment Industries.

University of Leeds, United Kingdom (Semester 2, 2019).

 

Leeds. The beating heart of Yorkshire – some things that may spring to mind is Yorkshire pudding, a love of FOOTBALL (or soccer as we Australians call it), its surrounding countryside and fields, its slightly underdog attitude to things and THAT Yorkshire accent (yes we all know it, and despite some hesitancies in ability to understand it – we learn to love it – or like me, immediately fall in love with its character on exposure). This city now holds a very special place in my own beating heart. Sure, in the pool of the many Universities of England there’s quite certainly stiff competition, however, I can truly say without a slither of a doubt that the University of Leeds out-lives them all (emphasis on the live). It truly is a lively student city and University, with an incredibly exciting and infamous nightlife (I really cannot emphasise this enough – a quick google search on it will back me up), with one of the largest student unions in the UK (Leeds University Union); complete with its own nightclub, café, bars and over 300 clubs and societies (with almost everything you can think of – honestly, I challenge you to look at their website and NOT find something of interest), to its impressive intake of international students through its exchange program.

Study

Like QUT, the University of Leeds has an impressive and broad catalogue of disciplines to study. Being a creative industries faculty based student, I decided to study an eclectic mix of electives from science to photography and film. Being at a university such as UOL (University of Leeds) where cross faculty subjects were often allowed was of great benefit to my curiosity to branch out into different fields of interest. Here is what I observed about the study at UOL.

(Please note that this is just what I noticed and may be different depending on what your field of study)

A forest in the countryside on the outside of Leeds in Spring

 

The University of Leeds teaching style wasn’t too dissimilar to that of QUT:

  • Most subjects had at least one seminar/lecture and one tutorial/workshop a week scheduled (give or take)
  • The teaching and faculty staff were very helpful, adequate support facilities were provided to students (especially exchange students through the program)
  • Minerva system almost identical to QUT blackboard (just rebranded in their own format)
  • Most lectures have a recording lesson capture system in place like QUT that is then uploaded to ‘Minerva’ (University of Leeds version of Blackboard)

There were some differences however:

  • Most assessments were more formal/traditional than QUT: either in the form of an exam or essay. Almost all of my assessments on my exchange were either essays or exams. This is unlike QUT who have taken a more inventive and “real world” practical approach to their assessments
  • Not all classes/lectures were recorded and uploaded to Minerva (it was wise to attend all these classes otherwise risk not being up to date)
  • Attendance was MANDATORY (yes, you read that correctly). Most classes took a roll to record attendance. If you missed a certain amount of classes without notifying the University of your absences, you would receive an email to check on your wellbeing and to acknowledge these missed classes – occasionally there are some classes that are more relaxed on attendance, which was the case with some of my peers – but unfortunately not with me
  • Most subjects averaged only two pieces of assessment per semester (usually split 50%/50% or 40%/60%) – unlike QUT’s averaged three pieces of assessment (again, this is in my experience)
  • Pass grade is 40% (YES YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT), however, it is harder to achieve a higher grade due to the starting point for satisfactory being lower (thus adjusting the rest of the scale)

 

University Campus and Accommodation

The UOL Campus is the perfect mix of old and new. The campus is stunning with some beautiful traditional English architecture. True to the English: there’s never a shortage of parks, Hyde Park being a personal favourite among myself and my fellow students. It wasn’t uncommon for students to flock to these parks as soon as a slither of sunshine came out.

Some fellow exchange students and I in Hyde Park after class. As you can tell by the surrounding students, it was quite a popular are to hang out at when it isn’t raining

In terms of accommodation, the University of Leeds provides more than ample options in its student halls; which exchange students are guaranteed a place in if they apply before cut-off dates.

 

Entrance to one of the interestingly beautiful buildings I had a class in

I stayed at the hall of James Baillie Park (JPB!) which I absolutely loved due to its proximity to the popular student housing suburb of Headingly (full of eateries, bars, pubs, places to shop and the home of the popular ‘Otley run’). I also enjoyed it as it wasn’t right on campus but it was close enough to walk to the University each morning through Hyde Park. As well as this, JPB in the year of my application housed a large and friendly exchange student population alongside a large intake of English ‘fresher’ students.

Hyde Park in Winter on a snowy day

What most people come to learn after exchange is that fellow exchange students are the ones who become your family, and those of us at James Baillie really did become one – whether it was to hold pre-events for nights out, borrow some sugar for baking, a study session  or to just go to the park down the road together.

 

 

(ATTENTION future James Baillie kids: the park is called The Ridge and I pass this information onto you in utmost respect that you will hold this place sacred as the many James Baillie kids did before you).

My JBP friends and I all wearing UOL merch at one of our last afternoons at ‘the ridge’

 

Tips for Leeds

I could write a book on my tips for future students studying at the University of Leeds, however to be honest, no one wants to do unnecessary readings. I have included some general tips that come to the top of my head for those of you considering the University of Leeds (honestly, do it, you won’t regret it!)

  • For the love of all things wholesome; attend every social event you can in the first 2 weeks! No matter how awkward it is, in these events you will meet your exchange friends and family (you will also find yourself laughing about these first two weeks later down the line to these people, so don’t worry about being awkward and venturing outside your comfort zone – as cliché as this saying is: EVERYBODY IS IN THE SAME BOAT – you will hear this a million times, trust me)
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you meet – for simple things like grabbing a coffee after class etc, the UOL has such a large exchange program, there is likeminded people for everyone
  • Try to get your assessment done before the breaks or weekends, Leeds is an incredibly vibrant city and the nightlife is unlike anywhere else, so don’t spend it inside studying (Oops, did I say that out-loud? I mean, study hard kids!)
  • While I never ended up joining a LUU society due to all my spare time taken travelling/socialising (I did attend many give-it-a-go sessions) I know many others that did join societies and loved them, I encourage you to take a look at the University of Leeds Union website and trying out a few or joining as this is often where you meet English students aside from classes

 

I can honestly say that some of the best experiences I’ve had were through my exchange at the University of Leeds, and if you have any doubts (perfectly reasonable), take the plunge and apply. I’ve met so many faces and personalities through this exchange, and I’m yet to meet anyone who’s had second thoughts on their choice: you honestly won’t regret it.

The Cherry Blossoms are Inspirational, my Experience in Japan

Li-En Peng, Bachelor of Creative Industries 

Kanda University of International Studies, Semester 1, 2019

The KUIS campus in cherry blossom season was beautiful. The KUIS buildings were a mixture of old and new. The older buildings had a classic feeling to them and the newer buildings were very high-tech and beautiful. I did have a few difficulties with orientation where all the information was spoken in Japanese, however I did manage.

The Blossoms

We QUT students organized a Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) party to get to know the other exchange students.

Our QUT Hanami

Campus food was delicious. It had a very home-style taste to them. Food in Japan was always 10/10. KUIS had a bakery, which was always amazing.

Home Style Chicken Katsu

I joined the soccer club, which promoted interaction with Japanese students. KUIS had many facilities and systems that encouraged language and cultural exchange amongst Japanese and exchange students.

KUIS has an area called the ‘yellow sofa’ where Japanese and exchange students can talk. I made a friend and she let me know of a KUIS event that only the Japanese students were privy to.  Hence, I decided to join that event, being the only exchange student and walked 40km overnight to from Tsudanuma to Narita-san.

Saying goodbye was very sad, but I cherish all the memories I made and still keep in contact with my friends from all different parts of the globe.

A few friends

This student’s exchange is supported by funding from the Australian government’s New Colombo Plan.

The best experience and memories I will never forget in England

Kate Thamm, Bachelor of Laws (honours)/Bachelor of Business, Nottingham Trent University England, Semester 1, 2019

I have always considered myself a friendly person but I struggle initially with large social settings especially when I do not know anyone. From that, it is clear why I was apprehensive as to whether exchange was something that I would enjoy or if I would end up spending 6 months alone on the other side of the world. But  I can jump ahead and say whole heartedly, exchange was the best thing I have ever done.

Before leaving, one of my friends reassured me and asked me if I have ever heard anyone say that they didn’t enjoy exchange? And she was right. I was lucky enough to get a spot in accommodation on campus, having my own small room and a bathroom (more like a caravan bathroom) but hey, it did the job! I lived in a hallway that had 24 rooms, sharing one large kitchen and one common room which had tables, chairs and two small couches. The entire third floor of our accommodation was purely international students which ended up being one of my favourite aspects of my exchange. It took a lot of self-pep-talks to venture out of my room and a few weeks before I found some people I really connected with, but after that the days just got better and better.

I have an extreme love to travel and I managed to find a group of friends who shared this passion – this led to a few amazing opportunities to travel with my new found friends, first to Ireland then to Greece!

Nottingham itself is a small town and feels like it is largely run by the students at the two universities it has. This created a very lively culture and most evening there was a party happening somewhere and the accompanying music could be heard. Basically the clubbing scene in Nottingham is beyond anything I have ever seen. Any day of the week (but Sunday) there is a club you could go to and it will be packed! My personal favourite day was Wednesdays, where all NTU student groups/unions/clubs or any friendship groups picked a theme for the night and committed to that theme, wearing their unified costumes to the clubs. In the six months I was there I saw it all. VS angels, people dressed as vegetables, as thugs (which we did do one of the nights) you name it! It’s a real right of passage for any NTU students and makes you feel like one of them.

Nottingham also has some beautiful parks, Wollaton park being one of them, where you can see real deer and the mansion of Bruce Wayne from the Batman movies! Not to mention the famous Sherwood forest where Robin Hood roamed. Nottingham is a beautiful city and was the perfect location for a 6 month exchange.

The university itself was also amazing. I was lucky enough to have all of my classes at the city campus which meant everything was in walking distance. The Clifton campus is about a 20 minute bus ride and located quite far from the city. From the stories I heard, even if you have classes at Clifton, I would strongly recommend still getting accommodation at the city campus as I know some of the exchange students at Clifton felt isolated – and missed out on the ease of being able to walk anywhere you want.

Day trip to London with my new friends

The statue of Robin Hood

Got to experience an English football match where Nottingham’s team was playing

Trip to Ireland

Some of us went on a day trip to Wales and hiked through Snowdonia – this was an organised trip by a company called CityLife Nottingham. They run a number of day trips/weekend trips/extended trips, open to any students and for a reasonable price! It is a great way to see more of England and the UK in general without the hassle of having to organise transport youself.

I would recommend exchange to anyone I see and could not be more thankful for my experiences abroad. I have made lifelong friends and memories I will never forget.

Top tips about living in the Netherlands

Charlie G., Masters of Sustainable Energy Technology
Inbound student from the Technical University of Delft,
Semester 2, 2019

My name is Charlie Groenewegen and I’m an exchange student from The Netherlands. My home university is The Technical University of Delft. I’m currently doing my Masters in Sustainable Energy Technology, second year. I had the opportunity to do an exchange program with QUT for one semester. In this blog I’ll explain to you how it is to live in the Netherlands, and Delft, socially and money wise. Also, I’ll give recommendations what to do and where to go in my country.

Delft is a pretty small town in comparison to other big cities such as Amsterdam but that does make it a cozy one. Most student activities, such as sports, are hosted at the university and all the parties can be at external locations or at fraternities. Dutch people are quite direct but very fun to be around with. They’re always in to chill, joke around or just go out and do something. The rent in Delft averages from 300-500 euros per month and it comes with a decent amount of space for your room. Finding a room is quite easy by just applying to the Facebook groups or kamernet.nl. You’ll undergo a trial day in which the people who already live in the house will check who you are and whether you fit into the house atmosphere. Most houses are close by the university and pretty much everything else is too, which makes it very convenient. Going to Holland you’ll definitely need a bike to get around and public transportation is pretty easy to figure out. Food is the same price as in Australia, maybe slightly cheaper in the long run. Overall, if you have 1600 AUD per month available you’ll be good to go. You can always go cheaper but you’ll want to do some exploring and hang out with friends/go out etc.

There are a decent amount of international people at the university if you don’t have the chance to socialize with the locals and there are enough gatherings in the beginning of the year so that you can meet new friends. Don’t be afraid to step off to a Dutch person as they might seem quite to themselves or their friends, we’re quite friendly! I would definitely recommend going to a football or hockey game, these the biggest sports in the country and will attract a lot of fun crowds and good moments. Ajax is the biggest football club in the Netherlands and have the best atmospheres in the game. The country is quite small so really get out of the city and explore the country, from Amsterdam to the beach and try to check out Rotterdam.

Absolutely incredible snowy winter in Canada

Rick Somers, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), University of Calgary, Canada, Semester 1, 2019

It is difficult to put words; just how incredible the exchange experience was for me.

How does one begin to summarize the best semester of one’s life?

I went on exchange to the University of Calgary in Canada for the 2019 Winter semester. I’ll start by saying that you haven’t experienced Winter until you’ve been in a Canadian Winter. My definition of ‘cold’ definitely changed. You begin to feel very Canadian when you start to look at -10°C as “not that cold.” One of my most vivid memories of this climate was when Spring finally arrived and the temperature rose to a lovely 10°C. The normal attire across the city quickly became t-shirts and shorts, just like the summer wear of Brisbane.

Of course, there’s snow. Yes, it’s absolutely everywhere. Snow can fall in Calgary for 6 months of the year. Slipping and falling on icy pathways became somewhat of a regularity for me and my uncoordinated self, but this only added to the experience.

As for the Uni, it definitely has a very unique feel, atmosphere and culture. Buildings are connected via tunnels, so you don’t have to go out into the cold between classes. Since lectures aren’t recorded here, people actually show up to classes and the university is bustling with activity because of it. On top of this, there are heaps of awesome facilities on campus that are free to use for students. I made frequent use of the bouldering wall and rock-climbing gym, as well as the ice-skating ring and the gym. Skiing, sporting and other outdoor equipment can be rented for cheap at the uni as well!

The university provided plenty of opportunities to meet with other exchange students and I quickly found myself among a large group of friends from all around the world. Most exchange students stay on-campus in the Cascade hall. All the on-campus housing blocks are right on the university grounds and are connected via tunnels. I decided to stay off-campus, in a share house with some Canadian students.

I would recommend this route, only if you’re within walking distance of the uni; waiting in the freezing cold for public transport really isn’t fun. It was with these Canadian students that I really got to understand what being a Calgarian was all about. Lots of ice hockey was both watched and played, and I gained a real affinity for country music and poutine. Also, with Banff and the Rocky Mountains being an hour drive away, I found Calgary to be perfect for the outdoor loving, adventurous side of me. Nothing compares to the exchange experience, it was absolutely incredible!

London, Tehran, and Back

Holly C., Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
A Legal internship at Lawyers Without Borders, United Kingdom, October 2019

 

Hello! I’m Holly, a Law and Business student passionate about advancing human rights.

Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB) seemed like the perfect home for my International Legal Placement. Like all other LWOB outlets, the London office is dedicated to protecting marginalised persons across the globe through advocacy and legal aid. LWOB’s purpose is simple: support organisations that provide justice for those who cannot access it.

I joined LWOB on board as a legal researcher; I was promptly tasked with researching and creating a memo for marginalised Iranians who have had their personal property confiscated on account of human rights violations.

Over the course of this internship, I canvassed legal precedent in other Islamic Republics, investigated societal and political constructs that perpetuated such violations, and provided advice as to how non-governmental organisations could assist victims in recovering assets.

Throughout law school, we are constantly asked ‘why’ we do what we do. But we are infrequently asked ‘for whom?’.

This internship was an immense challenge and privilege. I felt honoured to be assisting individuals who had faced adversity that we cannot fathom in the West; yet, I was daunted at the responsibility of playing a part in shaping their future.  The fact that these people had already endured so much only increased the pressure. I was amazed at how the staff at LWOB worked so tirelessly for their clients in a resource-constrained and high-pressure environment.

Amidst a backdrop of a cold, grey and busy London, our decisions at a desktop dictated the outcomes of people’s livelihoods, homes and property on the other side of the world.

In many ways, my days looked like that of any other law student. However, rather than researching contract law precedent, I was scouring cases for rulings on governmental victimisation of LGBTIQ communities; rather than accessing Austlii, I was downloading a VPN to search Iranian, Iraqi and Pakistani legal databases.

This experience no doubt developed fundamental legal research capabilities. More importantly, though, I built a tolerance for risk, learning invaluable problem-solving techniques in situations that were rife with legal uncertainty. I learnt how to make decisions about what course of advice to include in my task memo. This, in turn, fostered my ability to discern reason from irrational fear in high-pressure situations.

More broadly, I was exposed to a novel culture, language and social structure. In this way, I developed an appreciation of the complexities in navigating to cross cultural communication during delicate legal proceedings.

Finally, I learnt the importance of ensuring all material is appropriate for the client in question. The humanitarian and legal aid sector has a reputation in some parts of the world for generating solutions without consulting those who will be most affected – that is, solving the problem from a Western perspective which fails to appreciate local customs and norms. As such, the advice provided for this groups must differ greatly if it is to be effective. Cases such as these demonstrated the crucial importance of always keeping the client front and centre, even when they are more than 5000 kilometres away.

My placement at LWOB in London was formative, both personally and professionally. Yet, development did not come in the way I expected. This internship was a valuable stepping stone towards a career within humanitarian law. Yet, it also illustrated the limitations of providing aid within the legal system. If we are to achieve meaningful improvements in access to justice for marginalised groups, I am now of the firm belief that legal professionals must engage in structural and political reform within the countries from where their clients originate.

My winter experience in Canada

Teagan Braysher, Bachelor of Justice, University of Calgary, Canada, Semester 1, 2019

Hi! I’m Teagan and I went on exchange for semester one this year to the University of Calgary, located in the city of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

I lived on campus in the university accommodation, I was staying in a four-bedroom apartment (pictured below) and had three roommates, two were other exchange students and the other was a Canadian student. The campus had a lot of facilities, like a gym that was free for all students, a dining centre, a library, and lots of common spaces for students. The only issue I had with the university itself was the lack of communication from them regarding the important exchange information- e.g. where to go on the first day, what was and was not provided in the accommodation, university cards and expenses.

I found the academics of the university very different to QUT, the biggest difference being that they did not record their lectures or make resources readily available online. Another difference was that their academic semester starts in September, so even though I was doing my first semester of the year as per QUT’s academic calendar, it was semester two at the University of Calgary.

I found Canada to have about the same cost of living as Australia but maybe slightly more expensive for meat and produce, the only real differences being that it is customary to tip and that the sales tax is added on rather than being included in the price.  I feel that culturally Canada was very similar to Australia as well and my biggest shock was the obviously weather difference. The lowest recorded temperature when I was there was -32◦C on February 12th and the highest temperature was 20◦C on May 5th. So it was a little bit colder than Australia.

I was surprised to experience severe home sickness during my time in Canada, while I tried to not let this disturb my experience, being so far away from home was difficult to manage. Luckily, I was able to video chat with my family and friends often and talk about it with other exchange students who were feeling the same. I found that I was also quite anxious about money as I was unable to get a job in Canada due to their rules and the time of year I went.

The best highlights of my exchange were making new friends from around the world and going to live sports- especially seeing hockey games and lacrosse games. Another highlight was when the university organised for the exchange students to go to Banff where we walked across a frozen lake, saw some Canadian wildlife and drove through the Canadian Rockies. I was also able to travel around Canada and see places like Drumheller, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, and how they compared to both Australia and Calgary.

I had a fantastic time on exchange overall, it was well worth the money and time spent and I would definitely recommend going on exchange. I would advise anyone looking to go on exchange to carefully look at the host university to what they offer and possibly try to contact any current students for their opinions and feedback.