What to expect in Trento, small-town Italy

Joshua C
Bachelor of Engineering
University of Trento, Italy

 

My exchange program was placed and set in the northern part of Italy, Trento, a small city town that is located in the gulf between two mountains. Initially I had chosen this partner university by its impressive range of subjects that it offered in the field that interested me, biomedical engineering.

At this point I had no idea how things functioned overseas in a different culture and found myself in a new position of having to adjust myself. First arriving to meet my professors and colleagues I was nervous being relatively young and with the most minimal experience in comparison to those within the laboratory. This led me to the feeling as if I was inadequate to be there among everyone else as, I believed, the skill gap was too big for me.

However the hospitality, warmness and kindness of those within the laboratory aided me into being confident and strengthen myself immensely with how the exchange would progress.

 

The main square ‘duomo’ in which the statue of Poseidon with the trident stands on top of a well

Trento in itself, is a very small town located 100km above Verona (between Venice and Milan) and still holds dear the architecture, customs and style of a town well aged. The noticeable different between QUT and the University of Trento was the campus, unlike QUT where faculties have their respective buildings (P Block – Engineers, D Block – Design, etc) Trento had the faculties located around the town, with the major campus being in the city centre and the others in the surrounding suburbs. The University of Trento is a very beautiful and well-functioning university. The facilities that are offered are extremely well thought out and also aesthetically pleasing bringing a lighter to mood to things.

 

In addition to this, there were cafeterias. This was something totally foreign to me but as I visited it daily, I found myself enjoying it and soon enough become accustomed to it.

Discover the UK’s picturesque countryside

Jordan W
(BCI student Majoring in Drama, Minors in Scenography and Literature)
Leeds University, UK

 

The landscape is stunning in England, if you’re a painter or creative type it will make your mind wonder. I was fortunate enough in my weekend explorations of the England countryside to come across an exhibition holding some of Francis Bacon’s most famous work on tour.

You’ll meet so many friends while on exchange. I will give some advice, you will notice on your return home that you will have more international student friends than English students, as they tend to stick to their own crowd (usually). This is not necessarily bad, it was my own personal experience and made friends with plenty of non-student English friends.

So, you’re probably wondering about Europe. Do it. It’s one of the best things. In the middle of Semester 2 (which is our Semester 1 at QUT), there is a month break in the middle to study, I suggest do some study then take some time off to travel to Europe, it is at a very good time in March / April where the tourists have not yet arrived, but it is not blisteringly cold like Winter – it is just right.

Nothing is more rewarding than travelling

A highlight I would suggest is to do Italy – it is magnificent, you will not regret – climbing Mount Vesuvius was indeed my favourite as it snowed while I was at the top.

However, transport and travelling to other places is quite expensive due to the class system on trains which interlink England. I suggest using the National Express bus service that allows extremely cheap tickets around the U.K. – it takes longer to your destination point but it saves you money.

By the end, you will wish you could never leave – but that’s okay because at the end you would have made connections and can meet up with those friends again, traveling and searching the world together.

Learning and living at Leeds

Jordan W
(BCI student Majoring in Drama, Minors in Scenography and Literature)
Leeds University, UK

 

Leeds University is built on-top of a mountain that looks over the town. It is known to be one of the prestigious universities of England known as the Red Brick Universities. Don’t let this fool you. It’s very much a community, with teachers and academics giving you insight into the living and academics of the institution.

Here, the teachers do throw you in the deep-end. But if you have a level-head ask a lot questions and confer with your tutor teacher specifically tasked with helping your academic needs, you will have a great time. The assignments are much larger than QUT which is around 2500 – 5000 words, so be prepared for more rigorous researching and studying which you can do at three separate libraries on campus, the Laidlaw, Brotherton and Parkinson libraries.

The Brotherton Library

The campus has numerous dorms surrounding it. I stayed in Storm Jameson Court West that was considered the ritzy part of campus, I did not know this at the time. I only wanted a place with an ensuite bathroom. It was a gated complex with its own reception area with two computers, multiple desk areas for work and a free pool table. It made it very fun in with roommates late at night with a cup of hot cocoa.

I enjoyed my time here at the dorm, I was on a floor with seven other occupants, one a friend of mine from QUT which made the trying times without vegemite that much easier to complain about. I had three fellow roommates from the New York City / State area, a Nigerian, and one Londoner who accompanied me on so many journeys around Leeds and the places surrounding such as York, which was magnificent with its old castle wall and cathedrals.

Just some of the friends you will make on exchange

The U.K has so much to offer and so does Leeds University, it is situated in the heart of a town where it is built around student life. Any student will have fun here studying. The dorm life is what you’ll remember, have long chats into the night with fellow strangers as you turn into family.

Need to know where to find icecream in Leeds? Read on…

Jordan W
(BCI student Majoring in Drama, Minors in Scenography and Literature)
Leeds University, UK

 

Leeds is an extraordinary place it has the same population as my home city, the Gold Coast except its city centre is perhaps the same size as one of the suburbs. Everything is small and cramped. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s a more of a cultural difference – a heritage difference.

The buildings are quaint, the grass is (actually) green, unlike Australia and the air in England is fresh. There many boutique stores and lots and lots of cool book stores. Visit all of them if you’re a book lover and make sure to visit my personal favourite Water Stones, it’s right in the heart of town near a giant supermall called Trinity Leeds – where all your shopping needs will come true.

Heritage buildings in Leeds

There are numerous stores near campus where students can buy takeaway food and groceries at Tesco (IGA equivalent) and Morrisons (Coles and Woolworths) – they even have ALDI which is around a 25-minute walk behind the campus. I suggest Morrisons for big shops and Tesco for those late-night snack appetites.

There are two Tesco’s on the outer rim of the campus for students – they are open to 11pm at night and are your lifeline in ice-cream deprived situations – Ben and Jerry’s and Hagan Daz are so cheap in comparison to Australia – so is cheese. One thing that was noticeable was that food is a lot cheaper to buy in England than in Australia. That’s always a plus when exams stress kicks in!

 

 

Looking for a little adventure? Travel!

Jordan W
(BCI student Majoring in Drama, Minors in Scenography and Literature)
Leeds University, UK

 

It’s been a little over four weeks now since returning from my exchange, and it has given me a lot of time to relish and ponder on the extraordinary opportunity that QUT has provided to students.

I firstly want to say that when people say that a student exchange is a life-changing event –

I want to say it is truly a life-changing event that will hopefully help shape you in years to come.

It really sets the whole motion on how you approach long-distant travel overseas, preparation for a trip, certain requirements that you need to do on your own before leaving your home country and helps you really feel what it is like to be self-sufficient – on your own – progressing into the unknown.

Just some of the friends you will make on exchange

It really is a new chapter in your life. It also helps the students who may not have left the nest yet, to really get a chance to spread their wings and learn how to fly on their own.

I was a person who had already been out of home for quite some time but had never had a travelling to distant sides of the world, jumping head first into the culture of another country, immersing myself for the better part of six months with students that did not know my history, background or culture kind of experience.

By the end, you will wish you could never leave – but that’s okay because at the end you would have made connections and can meet up with those friends again, traveling and searching the world together.

 

 

Experience the Dutch Life

Kellie Amos, Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Creative Industries
Maastricht University, Netherlands (Semester 1, 2017 Exchange)

Maastricht – birthplace of the European Union
A beautiful medieval city, Maastricht is home to a large international student population – particularly from the neighboring countries Belgium and Germany. People from all over the world come to study at the university and improve their English. Given the large student population there’s rarely a time where something isn’t going on in one of the city squares, the Vrijthof and the Market, especially in the summer. The student organisation
ISN regularly puts on events and trips for exchange students, and you can’t miss their infamous CANTUS nights (think karaoke meets Oktoberfest) or their ‘Discover’ weekend trips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to being such a beautiful place to live, Maastricht is also extremely close to other European countries. I walked and biked to Belgium with my friends on many occasions, and catching trains across the border was just as easy. You can catch trains and buses to Germany, France, and Luxembourg with just as much ease but if you’re traveling via the NS (Netherlands railway company) use Facebook groups to find others so you can buy cheaper tickets for €7 (see links at the end of this document). The closest airport is Eindhoven, which offers really cheap flights, and you can also get some incredibly good value flights from Brussels’ airports.

Dutch Culture and Carnaval!
You get a very authentic taste of Dutch life living in Maastricht. The locals in this region love to drink, sing, and dance – as evidenced by the incredible festival Carnaval (not to be confused with the South American Carnival). Although I could never get any one person to tell me exactly what the festival was for, it essentially started as a tradition in the southern parts of Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany where people would fill the streets in elaborate costumes and drink and eat for 3 days. If you’re planning on going to Maastricht for exchange, you have to go during first semester. Carnaval takes place in March and is truly a sight to behold!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of Living
For my exchange, I used a Velocity Global Wallet Card, which allows you to load AUD on to it and exchange it into several other currencies, including the Euro and Pound. It works like a normal visa debit card and has no fees for electronic transactions, just a small dollar fee for cash withdrawals. Being a small city, many of the establishments in Maastricht don’t accept traditional credit card providers like visa, so I did have to use cash quite often.

Some Final Advice…
In the span of your lifetime, 6 months might not equate to much, but an exchange feels like you’ve just lived an entire years worth of experiences in half the amount of time. It’s pretty amazing how quickly you can put down roots in another part of the world. I don’t have any regrets about my exchange and I could spend hours telling you more about the things I was able to see, do, and live thanks to this opportunity. Instead, the last piece of advice I give you is to find some way to remember it – whether that’s photos, a journal, a blog, collecting souvenirs, or a combination of all those – I can guarantee you’ll want some kind of physical evidence it wasn’t just a dream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exchange isn’t easy, you will have lows along with the highs, but it is so worth your time and effort! Here are some extra links to help —

Facebook group for NS Group Tickets: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1472379199695327/

Facebook group for Second-hand Bikes: https://www.facebook.com/groups/216524551852144/

Facebook group for Bikes and Furniture: https://www.facebook.com/groups/zarurahusam/

A Semester in the True North

Kathryn Frost – Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
University of Ottawa (Semester 1, 2017 Exchange)

I was fortunate enough to spend Semester 1, 2017 completing an exchange at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada. Applying for an exchange at the University of Ottawa was definitely the best decision I’ve ever made and my exchange takes the cake as the best six months of my life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Studying at Ottawa

I was enrolled in the Faculty of Common Law, but in addition to studying two law subjects, I was also able to study two history subjects within the Faculty of Arts. Whilst the academic system at uOttawa was similar to QUT, I noticed some differences:

  • Class sizes for my law subjects were a lot smaller than at QUT – there were only 20 students in each of my subjects!
  • I had a lot more contact hours at uOttawa than I have had at QUT. As I had to attend two classes per week for each subject, I had classes 5 days per week.
  • Classes aren’t recorded and most professors take attendance, so you really do have to attend classes.

Accommodation

The majority of exchange students that I knew lived in Brooks Residence, which made for a fun living arrangement. I lived in a four-bedroom apartment in Brooks Residence, with an English and Belgian housemate. Some of the highlights of living in residence included many communal dinners, sleepovers and 2am fire evacuations! Living on campus has many benefits, including proximity to university facilities and classes (which is very convenient during winter when you have to trek through very cold and snowy weather on icy footpaths to get to class!) but also the atmosphere and experience of on-campus life is unbeatable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Student Life & Activities

I attended numerous university events including the annual Capital Hoops basketball game where the uOttawa Gee-Gees face off against the Carleton University Ravens at the Canadian Tire Centre, ice hockey games, as well as the campus Poutine and Snow Festivals and weekly pet therapy sessions! The International Office ran an exchange buddy program, and also organized events for exchange students, including a day trip to Parc Oméga in Quebec, a Canadian-style safari park, and tickets to a NHL game at the Canadian Tire Centre. I attended a weekend trip to Quebec City including a day of dog sledding, snowmobiling and ice fishing, and a 3-day trip to the North of Canada to stay with Indigenous people and learn about their way of life, both of which were organized by the university’s outdoor activities coordinator.

The Weather

One important thing to note about living on the east coast of Canada is the weather! It can get extremely cold in winter. The coldest weather I experienced was -32, with the wind chill factor making it ‘feel like’ -35. Most of the buildings at uOttawa are connected so that students can avoid walking outside on very cold days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Future Students

  • In the semester that I was studying at uOttawa, Law students didn’t have a ‘reading week’ (i.e. mid-semester break), whereas every other faculty did, so keep that in mind when you are making travel plans.
  • I would definitely encourage future students to study a French language subject while at uOttawa. This is something I wish I had done!

 

 

 

 

It is nearly impossible to pick the highlight of my exchange, having experienced so many new and incredible things during my time in Ottawa and throughout my travels. However, the clear winner would have to be the friends I made during my time in Ottawa. I am so lucky to have met so many incredible people from all over the world (including Canada!) who I know will be friends for life. These friends definitely made my exchange experience all that it was and I look forward to meeting up with them again in the future.

 

Ei-ffel in love with Paris

Marcella Denaro – Bachelor of Business
Universite Paris Dauphine (Semester 1, 2017 Exchange)

My exchange experience is one I will definitely treasure forever. What an amazing opportunity to be able to immerse yourself in a foreign country while partaking in a completely different study regime and culture. Paris’ Universite Dauphine was extremely welcoming to the large amount of foreign students arriving from all over the globe and made the transition almost seamless, particularly as the vast majority spoke minimal French. As an ex-United Nations building, the campus was vast and housed many conference rooms that no-doubt used to host many dignitaries and discussions.

Paris as a city takes your breath away every day. It is a city with no shortage of good food and beautiful architecture that can be found nowhere else. I would often spend my afternoons reading in Jardin du Luxembourg, just a ten minute walk from where I lived where you can spot the top of the Eiffel Tower. It is those moments that I have really missed since returning home. I’d recommend learning some basic French before embarking on a trip to Paris as the locals really appreciate it.

Paris was the perfect city for me and I would not change anything about my experience. I traveled to amazing places and met people I still keep in touch with. I could not recommend exchange more!

Life in the Brookes!

Kelli Sealy – Bachelor of Design (Honours)
Oxford Brookes University, England (Semester 1, 2017).

My Exchange in Oxford, UK was one of the best experiences of my life! I loved living in such a beautiful city that is rich with history and stunning architectural buildings are around every corner. Oxford is home to many places of interest such as the prestigious University of Oxford which is scattered throughout the town center. The Divinity School located within Oxford University is one of many locations used in the filming of Harry Potter and was breathtaking to visit!

Each weekend a group of friends and I would go on short trips to various spots around England. We went to Brighton and spent the day eating fish and chips on the pier. The ultimate bucket list experience! We also traveled down to Cornwall on the South-west coast of England and hiked up to Tintagel Castle and the views over the cliffs were breathtaking. The beauty of going on Exchange in England is that it’s quite a small country (in comparison to Australia) so traveling around was pretty easy to do!

I absolutely loved my exchange experience; I only wish I could’ve stayed longer! My advice to students who are considering going on Exchange is do it! Also make sure you plan and prepare as much as you possibly can before you leave and keep an open mind when you’re overseas. Say yes to absolutely everything and try new things! You will meet super fun people who have a similar mindset, some of which will become life-long friends.

 

Interning in Indonesia

Catherine Johnson, Bachelor of Business

Short-term program: ACICIS – Business Professional Practicum (BPP) 2017, Indonesia

I started my trip excited yet apprehensive about what would await me in Indonesia, as it was my first time in Indonesia also my first time traveling to Asia. I undertook the Business Professional Practicum (BPP), which is a six-week program consisting of a two-week intensive Indonesian language course and business seminars at Atma Jaya University, followed by a four-week internship. The Australian Consortium runs the program for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) and you receive 12 credit points if you successfully complete the assessment.

When I arrived in Indonesia, I was definitely aware of the cultural difference and I found it exciting, not at all overwhelming. The first main difference I noticed was that the buildings in Jakarta are huge and it is a very busy and chaotic city, however, this is expected since it is a mega-city with a population of 15 million by day and 11 million by night. Because of the enormous population, the traffic did not even come close to Brisbane’s “traffic”. I found an app called Go-Jek – a cheap motorcycle taxi service which was great for when I was in a rush and wanted to weave through the traffic and reach my destination faster!

Go-Jeck Taxis

Something else I noticed about Jakarta is that at all hours of the day, there are locals on the streets, just chatting to each other or having food at a “warung” (street stall). I think it is great that locals can just walk outside and have someone to talk to. I also believe this is one of the reasons the crime and violence rate in Indonesia is so low and why Indonesians are some of the happiest people in the world – there are stats on it!

Another aspect about Jakarta, and Indonesia in general, is that it’s very rare for local Indonesians to come across foreigners, so as a result locals often tried to talk to me or in more touristy areas, I had people come up and ask for photos. However, it was harmless and generally people were just being friendly so it is nothing to be worried about if you consider going to Indonesia.

The field trips were a great part of the program as we were given the chance to visit the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) and Google. These field trips gave me a real insight into Indonesian workplaces and we were able to ask questions and discuss certain topics. For example, what staff at the stock exchange do on a day-to-day basis and what strategies they are implementing to increase foreign investment and foreign listings at the IDX. Similarly, at Google had the opportunity to speak with the Strategic Partner Manager about the work that Google focuses on in Indonesia specifically.

Google Indonesia

Atma Jaya University, where the language course and industry-led seminars are held, is based in Central Jakarta and has 14 000 students. During the two weeks of my studies at Atma Jaya the local students were on holiday so the campus was relatively quiet. The facilities were less modern and the campus was smaller than QUT Gardens Point, despite that, it didn’t fail to impress me as it was clean, in the heart of the city and the students were all very approachable and friendly. The language course was helpful as I learned basic Indonesian to help with catching taxis, ordering and paying for food etc, and the classes only had about 7-10 students each so it accommodated a very interactive learning environment. I also had a lovely student volunteer from Atma Jaya, who was my buddy throughout my time in Indonesia in case I needed help with anything. She helped me set up my SIM card, find accommodation, recommend places to visit and she even went out of her way and took me and a few other Australians around Jakarta for the day. The support of Atma Jaya students was great and made the transition to living in Jakarta much easier than it otherwise would have been.

Atma Jaya University Campus

My Bahasa Indonesia language class at Atma Jaya University

The cost of living in Jakarta is much cheaper than in Brisbane. For example, I was able to get lunch from the canteen at Atma Jaya for 10,000 rupiah which equates to about $1 in Australia. The accommodation was also a lot cheaper, for 1 month in Jakarta it cost the equivalent to 1.5 or 2 weeks rent in Brisbane. The clothes and food that were sold in shopping centres (and there’s a lot of shopping centres in Jakarta!) was slightly cheaper than in Brisbane, but not nearly as cheap compared with eating street food or when buying clothes from a market. Water is very cheap in Indonesia and it is a necessity to buy as the tap water is unsafe to drink.

I managed to go and explore Indonesia on 4 different weekends. Firstly, I went to Bogor which is 60km south of Jakarta. I caught a train with some other Australians and 2 local Atma Jaya students from Jakarta to Bogor so it was a very cheap day-trip. I also went to Yogyakarta one weekend. I had to book a plane ticket to get there but it was definitely worth it as there was lots to do and see. On another weekend, a colleague from the IDX kindly drove me and the other Australian IDX interns to Bandung and showed us around. On my last full day in Indonesia, my IDX colleagues organised for me and the other interns to go white water rafting!

The internship at the Indonesia Stock Exchange would definitely be the highlight of my trip. I interned with 3 other Australians that were undertaking the same program as me and it was always great to have familiar faces around the office. I had a mentor who was very helpful and provided work that related to my accounting degree while also gaining an understanding of different areas of the IDX. It was great to be shown around the IDX facilities, including the IDX TV studio, the library and the main hall where the “opening bell” sounds each day at 9am for when stocks begin trading.

The colleagues within the team I worked were very inclusive and always willing to help with any questions I had. I noticed that food is a big part of the work culture in Indonesia, so there was always new food I’d never eaten before, so that was an added bonus! If you undertake this program you will find that interning in a new workplace, especially a country other than Australia, allows you to appreciate and be aware of the differences in work cultures, therefore become more adaptable and flexible to future jobs.

Prambanan Temple in Yogyakarta

White Water Rafting

First day at the Indonesia Stock Exchange

IDX Incubator

My colleagues during the internship

Last day at the Indonesia Stock Exchange

All in all, I’ve come back to Australia with an incredible appreciation for Indonesia, as well as life-long friends from Australia and Indonesia. My trip to Indonesia exceeded all of my expectations – the amazing people encompassed by the multitude of places to explore made it an enriching and rewarding experience, and is now a country that I will definitely come back to. I highly recommend the ACICIS programs that are offered, especially the Business Professional Practicum, as it provides a unique opportunity to travel abroad with financial support from the New Colombo Plan, meet likeminded people, experience an overseas workplace that aligns with your studies, all while gaining credit points towards your QUT degree.