Urban Transformation Study Tour: Day Four

Day 4 of the trip was a later start for many of us including me due to sore feet and exhaustion. After getting up some of the girls and I headed for breakfast at fun toast and got the biggest iced coffees I’ve ever seen.

After breakfast we meet the rest of the group and Wilford Loo at the Housing and Development Board (the HDB Hub). Here we had a tour learning about the history of Singapore planning, how Singapore are creating liveable and vibrant towns and communities. The hub was first established in 1961 and the first project was completed in 1966. It houses more than 80% of the Singapore population. Singapore has some very interesting planning concepts such as the checkerboard concept, the neighbourhood concept and the concept of hierarchy. The Hub displayed many future developments one included the 3D virtual interactive map with lights highlighting the five districts in the town of Tengah these included plantation, garden, park, brick land and forest hill. There were also 3D structures of other future urban structures within Singapore. Another interesting plan included the Plan of Punggol. In this plan all the roads connected to the water, everything was within a walking distance of 500m and the LRT. Due to the HDB Hub being the place to buy public housing there were show flats of up to five bedroom much like IKEA.

The HDB Hub

We then went to the Pinnacle at Duxton an urban structure consisting of five 50 storey separate buildings connected by a skybridge on the top and middle floors. From the top we had an amazing view of Singapore. Along the sky bridge there were various seating areas, a beach that wasn’t really a beach and a rock-climbing structure.

The Pinnacle at Duxton

Our last stop for the night was the Gardens by the Bay. The first dome we went into was the flower dome. It contained many different gardens from all around the world. The other dome we went into was the cloud forest. This had a massive waterfall in it with many rainforest plants surrounding. The dome also consisted of various sky and tree top walks over the plants and waterfall. Lastly, we went to the light show at the outside gardens which was amazing seeing the structures change different colours to synchronised music.

Gardens by the Bay

After we headed back to our pods for a good night’s sleep and to prepare for our early flight the next morning.

NCP Sri Lanka/Singapore Urban Transformation Study Tour

Day 2 (the first full day in Singapore) of the Sri Lanka/Singapore NCP Study trip started off with breakfast at Maxwell food Centre. We then headed to meet with Peter Hyland, a urban land-use strategist, from Cistri. Cistri represents URBIS Australia’s International Business an Urban Development Firm.

Cistri: Meeting with Peter Hyland

From a student’s perspective that hasn’t completed their work placement yet, meeting with an industry professional was a great opportunity to get an insight to what the workplace would hold and especially from an overseas country. Peter Hyland is a very welcoming person, who’s presentation on the Planning of Singapore was fantastic. It was an eyeopener to see how much the country has changed over time, how it all interconnects and what they have implemented to continually improve the city. As Peter described, “Singapore is A Planning Utopia” and that is exactly how it is perceived, everything is planned with a purpose. A nice little surprise was actually meeting a current QUT student undertaking a placement/internship in Singapore, also under the NCP exchange but for 6 weeks. This was a great way to understand from another student’s perspective, how work placement is and what sorts of things are involved (and also the fact that they were completing the placement overseas made it very interesting). She joined us for the meeting and the rest of the day, and took us to her apartment where we met her to other roommates who, coincidentally were also completing the NCP exchange.

The rest of the afternoon was blocked out because we were unsure how long the meeting would go for. The meeting did end up finishing at around 12:30pm so it was perfect timing to go and grab some lunch. The Lau Pa Sat, food market was just a few hundred meters down the road which was perfect because, well Singapore in the middle of the day is very humid/hot.

Yummy Pho

From here we made our way to Chinatown. It’s fascinating to see the little hubs Singapore has created, just like in Australia. Being Chinese New Year soon the streets of Chinatown were filled with stalls selling decorations. This part of the city was a little more run down so it was great to compare the two parts of the city. To top off the visit to Chinatown a few of us decided to try Durian, and for those who don’t know what it is, Durian is the world’s most smelliest fruit and banned on parts of public transport, hotels and restaurants purely because of the stench. Let’s just say that it tastes just as it smells!!

After Chinatown we walked to the Urban Redevelopment Centre where we were able to have a look at a model of the whole of Singapore. Being able to see the whole city in one go is very cool and you to can gain a sense of perspective on everything. It allows you to see where you have travelled in comparison to the city centre and sometimes finding places we have visited and being surprised as to where they are located in the city. Past Master Plans and Concept Plans were also available for the public to view which was very educational. It was remarkable to see how the plans were put into action and the detail that goes into them is incredible.

Urban Redevelopment Centre: Model of Singapore

The night consisted of meeting the other QUT students that were over here on a NCP for 6 weeks short exchange. As they were staying in a unit we decided to go to their pool, because after walking around all day in the humid environment of Singapore the pool sounded fantastic. After the pool we caught the MRT to Marina Bay to watch the light show on the bay and boy was the light show an experience. The planning of the Marina Bay is truly incredible. One thing that stood out to me was the walkability distance between sites being so close. Light shows, a shopping centre, carnival, hotel and the gardens all being within a radius of approx 1km, and well we just had had to visit all of them.

After the first FULL day in Singapore you start to realise how lucky you are to have been selected to go on such a trip/study tour. Just after one day you start to bond with the group of students you are travelling with and the inside jokes start, you experience things that you may not have experienced if you were not with this group of people and last of all you make friendships that will continue once back at uni. The best part for this, is knowing we haven’t even started the Sri Lanka part of the trip and that will be one eye-opening experience.

E

Re-imagining India: Three Parts Exhilarating, One Part Exhausting

Alicia Shorey, Bachelor of Design

Short-term Program: Reimagining India Experiential Learning Program

India (December 2018)

What can I say other than it is an experience of a lifetime. The Re-imagining India program is 3 parts exhilarating and one-part exhausting, but amazing none the less.

Taj Mahal

Over the course of two weeks I was submerged into Indian culture and dipped into a world so full of vibrancy that it allowed me to open my eyes up to so many different ways of thinking. The photos showcase a glimpse of my journey through Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur which consisted of morning yoga and Bollywood classes, industry and NGO visits, cultural sites and beyond.

Vibrant Elephants in India

A highlight of mine was Jaipur Foot which is an organisation which provides free prosthetic limbs to those in need. While there, we were able to see how the organisation operated and see first-hand how this organisation is restoring faith in many people. Being able to watch a limb being fitted and its instant effect on a person’s life was indescribable and something I’ll never forget.

Jaipur Foot

The program overall was jam-packed with a variety of activities to fit all interests. Delicious meals were provided every day and the overall cost of the trip excluding flights is next to nothing. What are you waiting for?

The program had activities to suit all interests

Urban Transformation Study Tour: Arriving in Singapore

To travel to our accommodation, we decided to take the metro. The metro was quite a bit more advanced than the Brisbane metro in a few ways. First off the trains arrive much more frequently than Brisbane metro as wait times were about 2 mins in comparison to every 20 mins to an hour in Brisbane.
When boarding the train there is a specific protocol that needs to be followed. When exiting the train you must exit through the centre of the doors, whereas when boarding you need to line up at the sides of the entrance to enter the train. The protocol ensures efficient use the trains stopping time.
From a brief glance from the train Singapore appears to have a varied range of housing types and styles. These vary from enormous housing apartment blocks to small 2-3 story town houses.


The trains were also easier to navigate as the audio announcements were very clear and there was a stop map on the train that lit up with the stop that it was at and the stops to come.

Upon our arrival at Bugis Station we had to walk 7 mins along brick pathways that had many small stairs. For Singapore, we decided to stay in a pod hotel called the Cube in Kampong Glam, which is an area that is heritage protected due to the beautiful historical architecture and urban structures. We were quite concerned that the pods would be small and claustrophobic, however they were very spacious and used the space well, with similar features to a tiny house design or an origami apartment. Although there were multiple pods in one room there still seemed to be a lot of privacy. I wonder whether pod accommodation could be a preferred option for student accommodation in Australia?

For an early dinner, we went to the Moroccan and Middle Eastern restaurant across from our accommodation. The people were very friendly and a bit cheeky, and there was a bit of banter between the Turkish restaurant across the street.

As one of the QUT guys had been there earlier for a meal they were very happy that he had returned with more customers so they gave us a 20% discount and free ice cream.

After dinner, we wandered around the streets around Kampong Glam and down Haji Street which is known as a trendy place to grab a drink. We stopped at a Mexico style bar/restaurant where a live music was being set up. We ordered beers and cocktails and sang along with the live music. After the drink, we headed back to the accommodation to go to bed.

Coming back to AUS

My time in Japan – after 5 months – has ultimately come to an end. It was an unforgettable time that (like a cliche) went all too quickly. But I must say, it’s good to be back in Australia, the familiarity and nostalgia of home are comforting. Not to say that there weren’t any challenges upon my return. Maybe the strangest negative aspect about returning home was the uncomfortability about suddenly being surrounded by Australians as opposed to Japanese people! I was surprised that I felt so uneasy being surrounded by my own countrymen and women. However, this feeling soon passed once I met up with some familiar and friendly faces.

Now, I suppose I should recap my time in Japan; but how could I possibly condense 5 months into a mere few hundred words? I think that I cannot and any attempt I would make would be abysmal. Nonetheless, I can make some confirmations for those who are thinking of coming to Japan. Japanese people are lovely and polite, the scenery and culture are mesmerising and in general it is a fantastic place to experience.

I think the most important part about exchange is not the place you visit, but (cliche incoming) the people you meet whilst on it are. People from around the World with different views and experiences that can make you a better person and make your time truly unforgettable. I’ve met people from Germany, Poland, China and more whom I can say are my firm friends. These people are what made my time in Japan so unforgettable and I couldn’t ask for a better group of friends.

So, if you are anxious about going on exchange or can’t quite make up your mind about whether it’s a good idea or not, I would suggest that you think about the possibilities of what could become of such an adventure. The people you could meet, the places you could see, the food you could eat, the things you could learn, the experiences you could have. I’m not promising that it will all be amazing, but there is so many fantastic possibilities that could become blissful realities if you take a chance. So, take a step in the dark and see what becomes of it for yourself.

Adjusting to Life in Thailand

In Thailand, there’s a phrase called ‘Thai Time’. It applies when Thai people do things in their own time – which I’ve realised happens quite a lot!

The first time I experienced ‘Thai Time’ was waiting for my acceptance letter from Thammasat University. Around one month before my planned departure, the letter finally came through. Phew!

I decided to study in Thailand because I wanted to study journalism in Asia, and Thammasat was one of the few options to do this. I’ve always wanted to go to Thailand anyway – I really love Thai food – so it worked out perfectly.

Fried fish balls with chilli sauce – so good!

I arrived almost two weeks before the semester began to give myself some time to settle in and explore Bangkok. For the first week, I stayed right next to the famous Ratchada Rot Fai Night Market. Almost every night I went to this huge food market and tried something different. My favourite dishes were a spicy mango salad with fried fish, fried fish balls with chilli sauce, and an insanely spicy chicken noodle soup. If you can’t tell; I love spicy food so I’m in heaven here.

First time wearing the uniform!

During the first week, I met my Thai buddy who showed me some of Bangkok’s must-see sights including The Grand Palace and Wat Pho. She also helped me buy my uniform, which I only have to wear for formal occasions like taking exams or going on tours with the university.

The next week I stayed at a hotel right on the bank of the Chao Phraya River, which is the main river in Bangkok. Located across from the Thammasat Tha Prachan campus, it was easy catching a ferry across the river to get to orientation classes. It was also right near a super authentic market called Wang Lang market, which was bustling with activity every day. I was often the only foreign person at the market!

With new friends from America at Wat Pho

Once all the orientation activities were complete, I had to move to the other campus, which is located around 45-minutes north of Bangkok. Most of the new friends I made stayed behind at the Bangkok campus which was tough, but fortunately I’ve become really good friends with the people who also study at the Rangsit campus.

So far, campus life at Rangsit has been really interesting. The Rangsit campus is huge and it has its own transport system to get people from class to class. I’ve had my first week of classes which were mostly just introductions to the courses. Next week, classes fully begin so I’ll let you know what they are like next time!

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

Reimagining India – “an invigorating experience that I will never forget”

Zeyn Janif, Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)

Short-term program: Reimagining India Experiential Learning Program

India (December 2018)

I had the privilege to join 50 other students from universities all over Australia on a short-term study program in India, which was funded by the New Colombo Plan, an Australian initiative encouraging students to study abroad in the Indo-Pacific regions. I was excited to travel to India not only because I had never been there before, but also because it was a country full of mystery to me.

The amazing people of Indogenius provided an intense itinerary designed for us to engage with India’s past, present and future. Some of the main subjects we were introduced to were the culture, history, technology, economy, innovation, and a whole many more to list. We visited various religious sites, including one of my highlights of the trip, a visit to a Sikh temple. I felt a real sense of piety as I immersed myself into the rich culture, and what struck me was just how significant it was in their everyday lives, something we rarely see in western society. I even had the chance to attend a traditional Hindu wedding where I saw the continuity of a strong culture and religion focus as I congratulated the bride and groom.

My highlights as a student included visits to the various businesses, including the multinational corporation, Infosys, the Indian version of MIT, IIT Bombay, a visit to Jaipur Foot; a non-profit organization providing free prosthetic limbs to millions, an elementary school catering for children from poor family backgrounds, and a visit to one of the largest slums in Asia. These experiences deepened my appreciation for life and encouraged me to have a greater focus on the wellbeing of others and myself. There was so much that was covered on the trip, that it managed to have some relevance to the diverse study backgrounds among the 50 of us. We travelled to 4 major cities in India; New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Mumbai, and there was really not much time to relax. The days started off quiet early and went long into the night, I recommend bringing bulk Berocca tablets or consider drinking coffee if you don’t already. We were lucky enough to stay at comfortable 4 star hotels, which included an abundance of food buffets encouraging us to indulge into the Indian cuisines. A friendly FYI, I highly recommend you build your spicy food tolerance before going, as some of the food can be unforgiving. Among the many flavorsome dishes, my savior was actually the masala chai! One of the things that made this trip really enjoyable was experiencing India with all of the amazing people I met.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Indogenius members, to the students, we all seemed to get along right from the get go, and by the end we had all formed new friendships and remain in contact with each other to this day. We had some really entertaining moments, from our Bollywood dancing and games nights, to the hamstring pulling yoga sessions. Despite it being a short 2 weeks, I had found growth both personally and professionally, and had learnt more than I ever would have in a classroom. If you’re thinking of taking the big step in overseas study, just remember to soak it all in and enjoy every moment, because it will be gone before you know it.

A World Class Fashion Experience in Paris

Ashleigh Hobbs, Bachelor of Creative Industries

Short-term program: IESEG ‘Fashion Business in Paris 2018’

France (July 2018)

My name is Ashleigh Hobbs, a second-year student at QUT, majoring in fashion and film. In June/July of 2018, I had the opportunity to go on exchange to Paris, France, and study fashion and business at IESEG School of Management.

The institution I studied at, IESEG School of Management, was in La Défense; the business sector of Paris. We had student residency, only a five-minute walk from the school, and this was shared with other students taking our classes. The residency was fantastic, we each had individual apartments containing a fully equipped kitchenette, bathroom, queen sized bed, TV and wardrobe. In addition to this, we had access to complimentary breakfast, including on the weekends.

Life on campus was incredible; because the program is international and immersive, you connect with amazing people from across the globe. Having these friendships made the course even more so engaging and enriching; not only were you immersed in the Parisian fashion culture but also learning about different international cultures and traditions at the same time.

The program allows you to connect with people from across the globe.

The academic structure was incredibly smooth and well organised, making it easy to follow, but nevertheless, there was a high work ethic and heavy participation expected from each student. The opportunities granted to us students were world class. Not only did we receive tours of major fashion exhibits, but we also got a tour the Ecole Lesage – the company whom work with customers such as Chanel, Marc Jacobs, and thus forth. We got to watch the women hand make the tweed samples for the upcoming SS19 Chanel show; it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The Louvre.

I had the most positive experience at IESEG and was exposed to so much industry practice thanks to this wonderful school; I could not be more fulfilled or happier with how the program was.

As one can imagine, the French capital is vastly different to Brisbane, and Australia in general. It is always important to remain extremely aware in the streets, and personally, I would always advise being with company when venturing away from the student residency and university. It makes it that little bit less stressful having two pairs of eyes and ears and is far more enjoyable in company. Site seeing in the main tourist areas is perfectly safe in your own, however make sure you know the areas you’re in and always take caution.

The streets of Paris.

Nevertheless, Paris is world renowned, and for great reason. During our stay we were able to visit places such as the Louvre museum, the Chateau of Versailles, the Louis Vuitton foundation, endless fashion exhibits (including Dior, Museum of Saint Laurent, Maison Martin Margiela and Hermes, etc.) Paris itself was everything I dreamed and more. Generally, when it comes to ‘experiencing’ Parisian culture and the city, Paris can be very costly. Despite this, Paris can still be enjoyed on a budget. There are a large array of grocery stores and local markets, and due to having a kitchenette, it is easy to cook your own meals, and the difference in price is huge. You will save a lot of money by doing this, but I still recommend doing some research and choosing some amazing spots to eat out; for the atmosphere if nothing else.

Versailles.

The Eiffel Tower.

When it came to the cultural aspects of living in Paris, I wasn’t affected too much by culture shock. As you are surrounded by friends from all over the world, you are all able to communicate on your experiences and go through the journey together. Out of respect for the country, however, it is nice to learn a few French phrases to get you by (even if it is just: ‘desole, parlez-vous anglais?’ Meaning, ‘sorry, do you speak English?’).

After partaking in the IESEG School of Management Fashion Summer Academy, I feel so inspired, motivated and refreshed to start back at QUT, and understand further the amazing career pathways that can be undertaken in my industry. Choosing to partake in the program not only made me more academically inspired, but made me so much for worldly, and confident in being associated in the international fashion industry. I cannot recommend doing this program, and going on exchange in general, enough.

Kassel – A new Journey

Yu Yi Yu, Bachelor of Engineering/IT

Short-term program: Hessen University “Hessen International Summer University – Kassel”

Germany (June/July 2018)

Don’t take this the wrong way, but had I been asked one month ago will I go on exchange, my answer would’ve been – probably not. QUT has awesome facilities, lectures and I was comfortable here with my education and my work. After tonnes of persuasion from mates who had done/were doing exchange, I finally mustered my courage and I suddenly found myself on the opposite side of the world.

Arriving into Frankfurt airport.

Appreciating the scenery in Germany.

Even though it was summer – it was still cold. 17 degrees maybe. This is just the beginning however, after a total of 21 hours on the plane, there was another trip to make – a 3 hour trip to the city of Kassel. But the day gradually warmed up and I started to appreciate the scenery in front of me – The vast fields, the forest and the small towns. It was something totally different.

I arrived at my host family’s house, with the help from the university, and was warmly welcomed by my host father – Christian: someone whom I still keep in contact with even though I’m back in Australia now. The place was tidy and neat and full of surprises – there were even apple and cherry trees!

My host family’s house.

After a lovely lunch with 3 other host students and the host parents, they gave us tips and information about the local area and how to get to the university, which was really helpful during the duration of my stay, and then took us to the local attraction – the Hercules Monument. It was a 10 minute bus ride from our place and the Hercules Monument was absolutely breathtaking. We were able to see the whole city – the photo just doesn’t cut it.

Hercules Monument.

The next day, our host father took all of us (the three other host student and myself) to the university. It was almost like the first day at school – Everyone’s excited yet scared. We met students from all around the world. People from South Africa, Russia, Thailand, USA and more were also attending the program. The campus felt like home – it was small and compact, yet it has everything you need – from a library, to study rooms, to engineering facilities! There is even a canteen where you can get cheap lunch for 2~4 euros!

Campus.

The canteen went a long way throughout the whole trip due to the cheap yet fulfilling meals! The canteen offers 3~4 different options from day to day and it ensures that students are able to have a decent meal a day.

Cheap lunch on campus.

The University provides interactive learning experience and also a lot of extracurricular activities – from trips to Fritzlar (as shown in the photo) to wind farms! One highlight for me was when we drank filtered sewage water from one of the lecturer’s research systems called “PAUL”. Further details can be seen in the video link: https://www.facebook.com/IUKassel/videos/2585629621462512/ 

Also it’s not always about the study – the university provides a lot of extracurricular activities – from hiking to Dornberg, to calisthenics. In addition, there was also tonnes of time during the weekend which made travelling an option. I highly recommend getting the Eurail pass as it allowed me to travel the whole of Europe for a bargain!

Overall, the experience allowed me to explore a whole new area, expanded my network and friendships, and inspired me to look into studying abroad in the future!

Living like a Local in Kassel

Xaythavone Phommachanh, Bachelor of Engineering

Short-term program: Hessen University “Hessen International Summer University – Kassel”

Germany (June/July 2018)

Doing exchange abroad is one of my favourite opportunities that I could do while being in university. On July 2018, I took a journey to Germany to participate in an exchange program called International Summer University (ISU)– Kassel. This was my very first trip to Europe and Germany and I was excited and looking forward to it. Eventually the very first day arriving Germany came, it took some time to travel from the Frankfurt airport to the city of Kassel where the exchange program took place.

The city of Kassel is a small city where everything is pretty much easily accessible by trains, trams or foot, for example, stores, cafes, restaurants, museums, parks and so on. The University of Kassel, main campus, is situated not far north from the city centre. There are many tram stops around the university so it is very convenient to travel to study from the city and also outer suburbs. The main campus is large in terms of area. There are many buildings, namely the library, central canteen, study areas, etc. and my most favourite building of them all is, and I think you know what my choice will be, Zentralmensa or Central Canteen. This is because they serve cheap and good food, but you need to know how the Zentralmensa works so that you will get all the benefits.

Cheap and good food on campus

Throughout the program, I found that it was very well organised, educational and enjoyable. Staff and other participants were very kind, caring, cheerful and friendly. The program offered a German language course and a variety of seminars for participants to choose. Along with all those on-campus components of the program, the participants were also offered off-campus and extracurricular opportunities, for example, field trips in order to improve participant understanding about the chosen seminar topics and movie night or BBQ gathering to maximise the cultural experience of all participants. Furthermore, there are also recreational trips like a trip to Berlin, Fritzlar (a small historic town) and hiking trips, to name a few.

Recreational trip to Berlin

The cultural experience of the trip was maximised through extracurricular activities.

As the time of applying for this ISU program in Kassel, there was one aspect of the program that stood out and interested me to participate, and that was the opportunity to stay with a German family, they were really great at helping out with transitioning to the German culture. By spending time with them, I learned a lot about them and also the things that only the locals know best. I have to admit that I did little research about Germany before actually going on exchange, but because of them, I felt that I did not miss many things that are expected to do in Germany. Fun Fact: they like Tim Tams a lot!

I recommend that everyone join this program.

Overall, the program is so good. I recommend everyone to join this program, International Summer University – Kassel. I am sure that you will have a good time here. 😊