Making Memories in Milan

Andrew Q. Master of Business
Politecnico Di Milano, Italy (Semester 1, 2016)

Host University

I went on exchange at Politecnico di Milano (Polimi) in Semester 1, 2016 at the Leonardo campus. It is a widely respected university in Europe with a rich history in engineering.

Note in Europe, their semesters are reversed which means our 1st semester is their 2nd. Polimi semesters start around 3 weeks after the QUT equivalent so you might (will) miss the first few weeks of your next semester when you return.

Most units will consist of two 2hr lectures and one final exam during the exam period. You get 2 attempts to pass the exam. This all or nothing final examination approach threw me off compared to how it’s done in QUT, so you’ll need to self-manage your own studies from day one (my lectures were not recorded). If you are going in your first semester (QUT), try extending your stay to include their September exam session which will allow you to have 2 extra attempts to pass the exam as a precaution.

I found an apartment before arriving using a website called Uniplaces. They provide an intermediary in case you find the apartment not to your liking. I paid for a single room in a 2-bedroom apartment which cost me 500euro per month. This is average price you should expect to pay. Luckily, I’ve had no problems with my accommodation (and I’ve heard stories).

Host Country

I enjoyed my time in Italy and you can survive speaking only English but I would definitely recommend learning Italian before and during exchange. It definitely makes the experience so much more rewarding. I had a lot of fun interacting with my fellow international students via Polimi’s free language classes.

Milan is an expensive city to live in compared to Brisbane. Try and buy whatever you need at the street markets scattered throughout the city.

Highlights

  • I’m a football fan and it was great to watch (and attend) quality games within normal hours!
  • The sun doesn’t set until 9pm which allows you to make the most of the day. It’s definitely something I immediately miss upon returning.
  • Joining the ERASMUS group and making new friends. They do plenty of trips and social events. Great fun!
  • Italians have a tradition called Aperitivo. By purchasing a beverage, you have full access to the buffet they set out in the afternoon. It’s a social and financial lifeline for students!

Tips

Before Leaving

  • Apply for a ‘codice fiscale’ (Personal Code) along with your VISA application. You’ll need it as soon as you arrive (for your accommodation contract, phone plan and transport pass).
  • If you’re planning on taking a credit card (recommended) try getting one that gives you complimentary travel insurance if you use the card to pay for your flights or accommodation. I knew a few students who went travelling after the study period.
  • Don’t forget your stationery
  • Pack light, you’ll be bringing back more than you can imagine.
  • A laptop is essential.
  • Try to get as many transfer units as possible. There may be circumstances in which you won’t be able to do some of the units that you applied for. Be prepared to have overlapping units.
  • I used for a Citibank Plus account for cash withdrawals and a 28 Degrees account for credit card purchases and highly recommend both.

During Exchange

  • Apply for an ATM Transport Card. Renew every month for 22euro at the Metro Stations.
  • I signed on to Vodafone prepaid plan as it also allows cheap data roaming in other countries (5euro per day). The other big telecoms Wind and TIM do not provide this.
  • Applying for a Permesso di Sogiorno (Permit to stay) is a very daunting experience. I actually got my card a couple of weeks before I was set to leave!

The Realities of Studying in Gothenburg

Lydia W., Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
University of Gothenburg, Sweden (Semester 2, 2017)

My time in Gothenburg can be summed up in one word: memorable. The city of Gothenburg is an incredible city, and my little dorm room will always be considered my second home. For any of you who are considering journeying to the wonderful land of Sweden, or the city of Gothenburg, here are some of the things you may wish to know.

Gothenburg’s famous Hagabullen (cinnamon bun)

Studying at the University of Gothenburg

The University of Gothenburg allowed me to experience a completely different style and atmosphere towards learning. The different faculties of the university are spread out around the city of Gothenburg and I was lucky enough to study in several of them, including Handelshögskolan, the School of Business, Economics and Law. All of the buildings are easily accessible by bus, tram or by bike. In regard to learning, Gothenburg was very different to QUT. My subjects included 3 hours lectures and lecture information is not as easily accessible. More emphasis is placed on group work and discussion in lectures. Also, Gothenburg students are lucky enough to have 5 hour exams where food and drink is allowed.

University of Gothenburg buildings

University of Gothenburg buildings

Student Living in Gothenburg

During my time at Gothenburg, I lived in student housing at Helmutsrogatan which provided me with my own dorm room that included both a kitchen and bathroom that were furnished with basic essentials. Also, right next to my housing was a 7-Eleven which was my saviour every day and night. I was a 5 minute tram ride from the centre but could also walk if I felt like it. I was also a 5 minute walk from the main student shared housing area of Olofshöjd which is convenient as most of your friends will probably be living there. For those of you who are sporting fans, my housing was also a 5 minute tram ride from the Ice Hockey stadium, Liseberg Amusement Park and the football stadium.

My student housing

My student housing

The City of Gothenburg

I loved living in Gothenburg and it will always hold a special place in my heart. The city itself is quite small and you can easily walk to most places. Also, Gothenburg has an advanced and easy tram and bus system which makes it so easy to travel around the city. The reason I mention transport is that Gothenburg has so much to offer. You can catch the tram to archipelagos; you can visit the Liseberg Amusement Park; you can discover the many museums and galleries all over the city; you can go to the opera, concerts and trivia nights; you can go hiking up a mountain; or you can even do my personal favourite and go see the Frölunda Indians play ice hockey! There is always something going on in Gothenburg so there are plenty of chances to get out and enjoy yourself!

Highlights

Obviously, living in a different country was a highlight in itself for me. Not only did I develop more confidence in myself and my abilities, but I had the opportunity to discover a completely new culture. I spent most of my time on exchange travelling all over Europe to countries I did not ever think I would explore. My absolute favourite thing about exchange was meeting people from all over the world; I met people from America, Canada, Sudan, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Portugal, Spain, Greece, China, Japan, India, Russia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Slovakia… and this isn’t even every country! Also, I was very excited to have my photo taken for the University of Gothenburg magazine; I have no idea what the blurb meant in Swedish, but it definitely was a highlight knowing random Swedish students would see a little Aussie!

Things I Didn’t Expect

As with any experience in life, there are things that you entirely do not expect to happen to you. I did not expect how difficult it would be to be to motivate myself to study whilst exploring another country. I did not expect how much time I would actually spend alone. I did not expect how little interaction I would have with Swedish people, nor did I expect how much interaction I would have with other exchange students.

My Tips and Advice

  • Have an idea of your priorities for exchange and tailor the subjects you choose to that. If your priority is to travel and explore as much as you can (as I did), I recommend doing 2-3 subjects maximum!!
  • Just because you’re on exchange does not mean less is expected of you in regard to assessment – find a balance early on where you can have fun but still pass your subjects!
  • If you have the chance to go to Munich for Oktoberfest, do it!!

Just remember, there will be aspects of your exchange that you hate or that you become really stressed about; get over them! Don’t let them ruin your time on exchange because it will be over too soon!

 

 

 

With a little over a month of my Hong Kong exchange remaining…

My exchange experience in Hong Kong continues to be filled with valuable opportunities for development.

Last weekend, I competed in the Hong Kong Joint University Case Competition. We were given 48-hours to develop and deliver a solution on a business problem and we competed against 16 teams from Hong Kong’s top business schools, including Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Hong Kong University. My team progressed to the grand final and received 3rd place overall.

I participated in the Hong Kong Entrepreneurship Adventure Programme. Over two-days, we workshopped and guided by industry mentors developed our HealthTech Start-up idea. At the end of the programme, we had the opportunity to present a 5-minute pitch to programme participants and mentors.

I also attended the TEDx HKBU event. I was particularly impressed to hear Associate Professor and Convener of the Women’s Studies Research Centre at the Hong Kong University Faculty of Law, Dr. Kapai, discuss her research and social justice advocacy. She focuses on the rights of marginalised communities in relation to gender, race, religion, sexuality, using an intersectional framework.

CityU is constantly hosting interesting events covering a range of topics. For example, I attended the ‘Big Data Analysis and Artificial Intelligence: Opportunities and Challenges’ event hosted by Professor Hong Yan. I also attended the ‘Unraveling Supply Chain Complexity in the Greater Bay Area: Challenges and Opportunities in embracing digital transformation’ event hosted by CityU MBA.

There are always live music gigs happening in Hong Kong. A few weeks ago, I saw 16-year old artist from Australia, Ruel, perform. His performance and the venue were both great.

Over the weekend, I attended the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens. The Hong Kong Sevens is considered the premier tournament on the World Rugby Sevens Series competition. The event is so much fun. Attendees get dressed up in outrageous costumes and the atmosphere is incredible!

With little over a month of my exchange program remaining, I will continue to seek out opportunities and gain insight in Hong Kong’s dynamic business and legal environment.

Click here for a 1-minute video snapshot of Hong Kong