Fourth best Business School in Japan

Nagoya University of Commerce & Business (NUCB) is the 4th best Business school in Japan according to Eduniversal and its business courses are consistently ranked highly within Japan and Asia. Nagoya also has lower living costs compared to Tokyo and is more centrally located. I had also heard that NUCB ten to organise field trips for its exchange students. As it turned out, the trips and events organised by NUCB were very fun and educational.

I got the opportunity to hike a world heritage pilgrim trail, attend the NUCB school festival, and visit the Toyota factory. I would also not have been able to visit the Kii mountain range or experience a school festival without NUCB organising them.

Toyota Factory Visit

Toyota Factory Visit

Japan is a country with a long history and an amazing culture. It’s almost hard to believe sometimes that you are visiting a 15th century castle or a city that is over a millennia old. Nagoya is located near the middle of Japan’s main island. It’s under an hour from Kyoto and two hours from Tokyo by bullet train. So it was very convenient for trips to Kyoto, Takayama and Shirakawa-go.

The undergrad campus is actually located outside Nagoya in Nisshin city, about 45 min away by train and bus. Nisshin campus has lots of sports facilities and clubs to join; for example: archery, snowboarding, baseball and comedy clubs. But unlike QUT it is not located near a city so it is not easy to leave campus to grab lunch due the 15-20 min bus trip and irregular bus times. They do have a good and cheap cafeteria that serves ramen, curry and set meals as well as a Mos Burger and 7-11 on campus.

Meeting people from all over the world

Having traveled a lot, including living overseas for six months in the past, I didn’t feel culture shock. I had no trouble adjusting at first, or in the first couple of months. My biggest issue was winter! I am a tropics girl through and through I have discovered, and the English winter, while a novelty and first, started to really get me down.

Loch in the Scottish Higlands

Loch in the Scottish Higlands

My favorite parts of the exchange were meeting people from all over the world and travelling with them. If I could pass on one piece of advice it would be don’t stick to other Aussies, get out there and socialise with locals and other exchange students from across the world. Travel on weekends, be organised with your university work so you don’t every have to turn a trip down!

I definitely grew as a person during my stay in Leeds, I discovered more about who I am as an individual, what I like in a city and what I don’t, I fell in love with London and Edinburgh, and learnt to further appreciate my home and Australia. For both academic and social reasons I wish I had done my exchange during undergrad, but I am so glad non-the-less to have had the opportunity and that I finally got to accomplish a life dream.

Grassy courtyard with big windows

 

Scottish Highlands

Scottish Highlands

The grounds of Sugarwell Court were great, a big old building with a grassy courtyard and big windows, especially nice on those one or two days we got snow. We also had a (very) basic common area with a pool table and the occasional movie night organised by the residential staff.

My exchange cost me more than I expected. The UK is an expensive place! It didn’t help that the Australian dollar depreciated a lot while I was on exchange. I found Leeds to have a similar cost of living as Brisbane, my rent was a little higher for what I got but it was worth the convenience of the University organising it. Of course the best bit of an exchange is getting out of the city and exploring the rest of the country, or other countries for that matter! This was by far the most expensive part; I would frequently spend a few hundred pounds on a weekend trip as trains and accommodations are expensive.

I definitely recommend getting a student rail card! It saves you a lot and trains are nicer than buses. I ended up spending over $10,000 in six months not including my flights. I had expected this but it’s still a bit of a strain and definitely worth saving a bit extra to be on the safe side. I didn’t end up opening a bank account, as it is very difficult to do so in the UK if you are only doing one semester, so I had to content with lots of fees on getting money from ATMs.

A few PR complications!

I got a taxi to my accommodation and initially was a little disappointed. It was further from the city centre then I had wanted and my flat, shared with five other girls, had a small kitchen and no living area! This was a bit of a dis-advantage as we had nowhere to sit and chill together and would frequently retreat to our rooms away from each other as that was the only place to relax in comfort. However though a living room would have been nice, I got to know most of my housemates (German, English, Chilean and Australian) well by the end and loved living with them.

I studied mainly marketing subjects (and one PR subject). This was a little disappointing as I chose Leeds Beckett because I was advised it was best for PR by QUT and seemed to have a lot of PR subjects. However once I arrived the Uni told me that only one of my many PR subjects I had originally matched to QUT subjects was actually available that semester. This process could definitely improve, the Leeds Beckett exchange office seemed very overwhelmed all the time. I found the quality of the lecturers and the academic intensity of Masters subjects at Leeds Beckett to be slightly less than that at QUT.

I found the teaching methods difficult to adjust to, the lectures and tutorials seemed far less organised and structured. However the assessment itself was quite challenging and not always directly related to what we had spoken about in class. I did like my one PR subject as we got to work with a real client to develop a communications plan for them, which was exciting.

Leeds Beckett seemed to be very good at organising activities for its exchange students; it also had great campuses, one right in the heart of the city and one in a beautiful suburb that was very English. A few more weekend trips would have been nice. The facilities were great and everyone was friendly.

Exploring London – Endless possibilities

I didn’t really know where I wanted to go on exchange however having completed a short-term exchange to Croatia I thought maybe I should try something a bit different. I have travelled to the UK before but hadn’t explored much beyond its beautiful capital, London. I had always wanted to try living in the UK and I was keen to go to a country that had high academic expectations (I’m studying my masters) so I settled in on the idea of England as my exchange destination. Leeds Beckett was suggested by QUT for Public Relations students, and the choice was made.

London Bridge and The Tower of London

London Bridge and The Tower of London

When I arrived I flew into London. My god I love this city. It is a hive of activity and I can feel the adrenalin pumping through my veins from the pure excitement of walking the streets and exploring its endless possibilities. After a week I got the train to Leeds. It was, as expected, not quite London. However it seemed to have a thriving student population and was a city that had a growing cultural scene

Scoring my first boundary in cricket

One of the other exchange students Philip, who was from Taiwan, joined the Bath Spa American Football team. Going to watch him play made me realise that I wanted to get more involved with extra-curricular activities in Bath. I had always wanted to play cricket and so Claire and I decided to join the cricket team. We went along to practice one day and were welcomed warmly by the boys in the team. Claire didn’t stick with it, but I did and played three matches for Bath Spa during the time I was there. I wasn’t a star, but it never mattered to everyone else, and we had a great time together as a team. I scored my first boundary in our 40-over match and made some great friends.

The Cricket Team and I at Bath Spa

The Cricket Team and I at Bath Spa

Joining the cricket team was a great way to meet people and make friends, not just within the university but also in the community. We played against two of the local teams in Bath – Lansdowne Cricket Club and Hampset Cricket Club. Playing cricket in England was so much fun, and having tea during our break felt very authentically English! I was lucky enough to also attend the first Ashes test in Cardiff at the beginning of July with one of my friends from the Bath Spa team. It was a great day, despite the eventual result of the match.

My experiences while I was on exchange have helped to broaden my mind and have changed my perspective on the world. I am less judgemental and more confident in myself than I was before I went on exchange. Going to England was a good choice for me because there was no language barrier, and some of my family are English so it almost feels like home. Studying in another country was an unforgettable experience, and I am so glad that I was able to take part in exchange while I am at university.

Celebrating Holi Festival in India

We are officially half way through our exchange period here in Mumbai. Whoever thought that 3 months could go so fast? Going on exchange has been one of the most invigorating, challenging and life changing experiences- the chance to explore another country as part your studies and converse with our students who share the same passion as you has been an opportunity that I couldn’t recommend highly to anyone else.Ind1

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Whilst being on exchange in India, it has given me and my partner Dom the opportunity to learn about the history behind traditional Textiles and local folk stories as well as the many techniques which influence these textiles. We have been able to put these in to practice by making our own scarf using a traditional styled loom; a hand woven mechanism which is still used throughout Indian culture today. To say this was a long and tiresome process would be an understatement, but the end result was absolutely pleasing and made me appreciate the hard work and art form that goes in to making hand woven goods. We have also had the chance to learn about various block and screen printing forms; another techniques which is still prominent throughout Indian culture today. From designing our own collections to learning the compositions behind fabrics, to learning the business side of the industry, the university offers a vast knowledge base on everything that you need to know before taking the leap into the Fashion Industry yourself. University here is extremely different to that of QUT. Here, it is 5 days a week, some weeks even 6 from 9.30-6.

Since being here we have explored a lot of Mumbai. Our first trip into the city, or CST as it is referred to here, we took the ‘local’; a train where your sense of personal space becomes a distant memory. The many times we have been to CST, there is always something new to see or something different to taste. Going to Marine Drive at night was very incredible. Kilometres of street lights, lining the harbour, replicating that of the ‘Queens Necklace’. Laying on the sand at Chowpatty beach was another highlight as it gave us a chance to sit back, relax and experience how other people live. Flying kites, lighting lanterns, picnics by the water and enjoying one another’s company is a daily ritual for the people of Mumbai. Whilst at Chowpatty beach there was the annual kite flying festival, where the colour was full of brightly coloured kites. As part of a university report, we had to visit Kala Ghoda, the arts and crafts district of the city. Here a yearly festival takes place and we were fortunate enough to go, showcasing the best of Indian textiles- both old and new as well as viewing the works of some of Mumbai’s up and coming designers.

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Whilst being here my taste for Indian food has definitely developed. A common food here in Mumbai is Pani Poori, an afternoon snack which has become popular amongst college goers. Homemade Indian curry, freshly toasted roti’s and lassie are another of my favourite, some I will definitely be taking back to Australia to replicate at home.

The beauty about India is that each state or town offers something completely different. We have just gotten back from our first trip out of Mumbai. Last Thursday India celebrated Holi. We decided to venture to Goa, to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and catch up on some R&R. Goa was great, a completely different scene to Mumbai- with beaches, paragliding, night markets, river cruises. We plan to travel more after the semester is finished as we are limited for time at the moment! Something to certainly look forward to.

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Exploring Goa

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Holi festival

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First Impressions in China

Liam D: Bachelor of Business/Laws – New Colombo Plan mobility student to Zhejiang University, China

Around ten months ago while at having dinner a sushi restaurant, I made the decision on a whim to go on exchange to China. Not knowing what this impulse decision held in store for me, I was elated to be putting a plan in motion to spend time in China after aspiring to visit for so long. Nearly a year later, I’ve touched down in the renowned city of Hangzhou and have commenced my studies at Zhejiang University.

Acclimatising to China’s vastly different culture and settling into my new home can thus far only be described as a fantastic learning experience. Exhilarating, exciting, demanding, stressful and awe-inspiring are all adjectives which aptly describe how my experience of moving to China has felt so far.liam8

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Arriving in the dead of night at Hangzhou Airport, I had ¥200 in my pocket, bank cards that weren’t cooperating with the local ATMs, a phone incapable of contacting anyone without Wi-Fi, and a meagre vocabulary at my disposal. liam1After a lengthy cab ride into town spent anxiously glancing at the ever rising fare meter, I arrived at my hostel with ¥25 to spare, only to find the ’24-hour check in desk’ seemingly closed up shop for the night. Just when I had resigned myself to sleeping on a stone bench by some pot plants outside the establishment, I was rescued by my girlfriend who had woken the innkeeper and in turn let me in. Following this bumpy entry, I had to wonder whether the remainder of my time in China would be so turbulent.

 

Fortunately, the mishaps of my first night in China haven’t followed me past this disastrous arrival, and I’ve since had the opportunity to make some early reflections. Being in China as a Westerner, one feels a long way from everything familiar. The people are different, the customs alien to outside eyes. The pace of life is accelerated, reflective of a country in motion with aspirations to reach the pinnacle of the international order. But to generalise or make broad statements about China is to err grievously; under each unturned stone lies something new to learn, a new insight into a society rich in history yet transforming more rapidly with each passing day.

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Living in one of China’s vast metropolises, one is immersed in a constant cacophony of noise, embedded within a kaleidoscope of over 1.37 billion people, each with a different story to tell. Sirens and car horns blare endlessly, and every street corner has its merchant vying for the attention of all passing by. Visit tourist streets in Hangzhou and you’ll be beckoned to purchase a handful of the city’s famed Dragon Well Tea. In Shanghai, street merchants peddle counterfeit watches and designer bags. Here, the nights come alive in a blaze of neon lights accompanied by a chorus of cuisines sizzling in woks and frying over grills. The air becomes thick with the heady smells of mutton charring on the flame, egg noodles colliding with spring onion and spice, and ears ring with the sound of voices shouting, laughing, and bartering.

In just over a month, I’ve visited the glass waters of Hangzhou’s West Lake and witnessed the monolithic spires of Shanghai’s Pudong district. I’ve travelled to tea villages in valleys underneath mountains ensconced in thick forestry and shrouded in mist, and climbed the winding stairs of ancient pagodas and temples. Despite this, it’s easy to feel that I’ve barely scratched the surface of what this dynamic country has to offer. With close to five months remaining in my stay, the clock is ticking, and the dilemma I face is deciding how best to make use of the time I have left. Regardless, I can take comfort in the knowledge that however I choose to devote my time, every day will bring with it a new opportunity to learn and discover more about this eclectic and fascinating country.

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Three degrees winter weather

For my study exchange this year, I attended Bath Spa University in southwest England for five months. It was one of the best and most valuable experiences of my life. I met people from all over the world, got to travel extensively in Europe, and made priceless friendships and connections.

I stayed in halls at Bath Spa, which helped me to make friends, and also meant that I could wake up ten minutes before my classes! I studied two creative writing subjects and one film theory class. I really enjoyed all of my classes, and got on well with my teachers and peers. I am studying creative writing at QUT, so to experience a different approach to teaching writing was very interesting.

While I was in Bath my best friend was a girl called Claire from the United States. She was on exchange from Colombia College in Chicago. I never thought that I would make such a good friend who was from a different country. We even travelled together for a month after we finished exchange to a music festival in Spain, then to Malta, Italy and Hungary. And now I have a great excuse to visit the US, and a place to stay in Chicago!

I had been to England briefly once before, on my gap year in 2012. However, I have never lived in a country other than Australia. I thought that living in England would be really similar to Australia, as our cultures seem fairly the same. But I was wrong! For one, we arrived in the middle of winter, so it was freezing. Bath Spa University is located three miles outside the city of Bath on a property that used to be a farm. The campus was beautiful, even in winter, and had a lake that froze over in January!

I started going running as soon as I started living in Bath. I used to run down the driveway that goes up to the campus, and then into town. If I felt lazy I would catch the bus home. In winter it was sometimes as cold as 3 degrees Celsius when I was running. It was actually a nice change from running in Brisbane, where in summer it gets to thirty degrees by 10am, so you have to go early in the morning. In Bath I could go for a run whenever it fit in with my university schedule. The path was also nice and flat, another positive change from the Brisbane hills. I ran with the Bath Spa running club once or twice but they were too fast for me.

Best 4 months of my life

Korea and the friends I've made

Korea and the friends I’ve made

Over the course of 4 months, I got to visit a lot of places all over Japan; I only regret I hadn’t done more travelling. There were beautiful castles and temples, theme parks that made the ones here look small, mountains that had a great view and hidden locations a little off the beaten track. I even got to go to Seoul, South Korea for a few days since it was so close. There were places I had only ever seen through a screen or read about, sights I hadn’t even imagined before, I even developed an interest in nature from all the hiking and nature viewing I did.

There was always something new I wanted to see, but time only got less as the semester went on and I was more than satisfied with the amount of sightseeing I had done anyway.The best part of travelling however, wasn’t the the beautiful sights, rather it was the friends that I had been travelling with. Friends that I could have stayed with for a lifetime, continually travelling together and seeing new places.

At the end of the exchange, I left with a heavy heart, but at the same time I couldn’t have been happier after all the things I was able to experience. I didn’t have a single worry while in Japan. Things like finance and studies (and to an extent security, whoo Japan) never bothered me. Not that it would have since I could get by on a little over $1000 a month including accommodation and the classes were easy enough that I don’t think I studied for more than 2 hours the whole semester.

It was the best 4 months of my life and the friends I made I’ll hold dear to me. There’s no way I could share it all and not have it be too long a read, the best thing to do is to find out for yourself. If there was a downside, it was that it couldn’t have been longer.