A week in Hanoi

Who would of thought it could keep getting better. Although a number of us were a little run down and sick, we all managed to still have an amazing week that could not have been possible without the staff and students of Hanoi Medical University. Throughout the week, we did our business before exploring Hanoi with our new friends. They definetly made this part of the trip better than we could have ever imagined. With their help, we visited places we would never have gone if we didn’t have them. These Included a number of street food vendors with the best foods, a jail known as the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ used throughout the 20th century and also the Hanoi night market. At the markets we danced all together on the street and played a traditional game seen in many Asian countries similar to soccer juggling but instead using a small ‘hacky sack’ with feathers attached. They took time out of their own studies and we could not be more thankful!!

 

 

 

 

 

We hope one day to return the favour over in the land of Aus. As for the research, again the school visits topped the charts. The kids were again so excited and willing to give it all a go. We danced together, learning some Vietnamese dances before teaching everyone the nutbush. They wanted our autographs and by the end of the visits we had all agreed that we did not want the life of a celebrity. It was a 10/10 experience though and I am so grateful to The New Colombo Plan and QUT for making this opportunity available.

We also had the opportunity to visit the Physical Education University which was super super cool. It was so interesting to see the differences in studies undertaken between Australia and Vietnam and learn about the employment rates. In Vietnam PE university students must undertake a 70/30 practical to theory course in order to graduate (which I wish we had).

It was so eye-opening and such a great way to make new connections and friends from Vietnam!

This program was made possible through the generous support of the Australian government’s New Colombo Plan. To discover similar programs check the QUT Global Portal.

My New Home – Hong Kong!

The City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has exceeded my expectations. The view of the high rises from the University excited me so much when I saw them and now they are constant reminder of where I am.

Arriving was daunting as you are constantly asking yourself – will I like it, is it worth it, WILL I MAKE FRIENDS? After the first 48 hours in Hong Kong these worries were put to rest. The University, even now three weeks in, is constantly a-buzz with exchange students planning activities, meals and their next adventures.

It was hugely beneficial to arrive one week prior to the start of semester as every day is needed to start getting your grips on this big crazy city. The University was helpful in getting us settled in with organised trips to IKEA, Campus Tours and Orientation meetings. They even gave every new student a Portable charging pack and a Universal Adapter (very helpful after buying the wrong adapter not once but TWICE).

CityU has around 450 inbound exchange students this semester so there was no shortage of friends to be made. Over the past few weeks there have been huge community beach and park trips which has made everyone grow close.

In only this short time that I have been here I have also fallen in love with Hong Kong itself. There is an abundance of restaurants, cafes, landmarks, locations that will keep me very busy for the next five months. What I have loved most about Hong Kong, so far, is that for such a tiny area (approximately one 8th of the size of Brisbane) there are mountains, quaint fishing villages, parks, sky scrapers, beaches (of a high quality I might add as this is always important to an Australian) and trendy shopping and nightlife areas.

In terms of the more practical aspects of change I think it was a great decision to start on campus. Primarily, it is a hub for meeting people and only a short walk away from Uni. Financially, you are receiving a much better end of the stick. My room is bigger and cleaner than those paying 5 times what I am to live off campus and the fact that Hong Kong is such a small, dense area means that you don’t need to be living ‘in the centre’ to still enjoy all the benefits of city life. You can also more easily take advantage of the cheap cafeterias that that University offers (both western and asian cuisines). I highly recommend!

I have now booked a weekend away in Taiwan and a trip to Cambodia having only been here for three weeks! I cannot wait to see what the next few weeks have in store and will report back!

Jo Kelly-Fenton

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) / Bachelor of Mathematics

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

Spews, poos and smiles

What a crazy first week! From spews, to smiles, new friends, sore throats, happy kids, championships and a whole lot more. It has only been one week and already this trip has become one that will be unforgettable.
It was a little overwhelming arriving in Vietnam, not really knowing the people that you will be spending most of your time with, but didn’t that change quickly!
It took only a couple of hours before we were happily cheering our glasses and becoming immersed in the food and culture.

The first day of business involved meeting our new friends from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine and Pharmacy. The people that we met and the friendships that we developed will be forever cherished. Not only did they welcome us with open arms, they gave us the inside scoop on places in Saigon that we would never have found on our own. During the week we, with our new friends, went to the gym, danced, ate delicious food, rocked out to songs in both Vietnamese and English at karaoke and together taught primary school children some fun games that not only tired them out but also us. We also ran some nutrition classes!


Visiting the primary schools the past week in Saigon is definitely in the running for the number one experience of the trip. The school environment was so positive and the children were so happy and eager to learn. It was so amazing to have the opportunity to run around with these kids that I would highly recommend this trip even if it was just for that one experience or even looking into placements overseas! (Even though there was a few runny poos due to dehydration 😕) Being in a school environment so different to that of Australian schools is 10/10 and something that I believe will advance your understandings of pedagogies as well as your development and perspectives as a future teacher.


On an end note, one major night to remember was Vietnam’s win in the U23 AFC football semi-final. The streets were packed and the crowds were out of this world. There were flags everywhere and continual honks of horns until early EARLY hours of the morning. It was something we had never seen before and something that we will never forget!


Week number one was a major success and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for week 2 in Hanoi.

Editor’s note: Tessa’s trip to Vietnam was made possible through sponsorship from the Australian’s governments New Colombo Plan. To discover similar programs check the QUT Global Portal.

Settling into Thai time

It has almost been two weeks since I first touched down in Thailand. Although I haven’t been here long yet, I have already faced so many challenges and have discovered many fascinating things about life in Thailand.

As this is my first blog post I think I am going to answer one of the most common questions I have been asked “why did you choose to study abroad in Thailand?” as well as how settling in to a new and very different home has been so far.

When I decided I wanted to go on exchange I spent a long time working out where exactly I wanted to go. I knew I wanted to go somewhere very different from Australia. I also knew that I wanted to travel quite a bit while I was away so finding somewhere affordable and close to other countries was also important. The last criteria I had was I wanted to be able to receive credit for core subjects while I was abroad. Out of all the options I was given Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand was able to tick the most boxes. Whilst for me Thailand seemed to be the best option it was quite clear that for most other students at QUT it was not. The lack of previous students having attended Thammasat University made it difficult to talk to someone who knew exactly what life would be like there. Also, due to the language barrier, many aspects of the university website were confusing and unclear. The lack of information about my studies and other things like how easy it would be to make friends and the best places to live was quite frankly a bit terrifying.

Thammasat University uniform

I arrived in Bangkok on the 2nd of January hoping to relieve some of my concerns during orientation week. The first event that I attended was uniform shopping. Yes, that is correct, in Thailand university students generally wear uniforms. I began to get a better picture of how the university and Thai student life worked after speaking to some of the Thai students that helped us buy our uniforms.

  1. The faculty I was in meant that I only had to wear a uniform when I was having mid-semester or final exams.
  2. Out of the 80 odd new exchange students only one other would be up at the Rangsit campus (just north of Bangkok) with me because most of the English programs were at the campus in the city.
  3. Thai people are really friendly and helpful people.

The university also paired me up with a couple of Thai students who studied up on the Rangsit campus. Both girls that I was paired up with were very lovely and helpful. They guided me on everything from how to get around to where to live. Although I was fortunate to have such supportive people helping me out I still struggled with simple things such as reading and signing the lease of the apartment I am living in. It may have been translated into English but the sentences did not make much sense. Since I was no longer in the tourist area asking a taxi or motorbike driver to take me somewhere was very difficult and it helped me realise how important learning some Thai would be for survival while I am studying here.

I have had one week of classes and so far, I have had a mixture of teachers. Some have been extremely charismatic, and good at English. Whereas others have been quite strict or had to ask other students to help translate some sentences into English for me. Either way being in journalism and communication classes have already proved to be a great way to get an inside look at different issues in Thailand and aspects of Thai culture that are not as obvious. I am very interested to see what the rest of the semester holds.

Although I came to Thailand with a bunch of concerns I have been able to work through all of the challenges and so far I am very happy with how everything is going. Being at Rangsit campus has turned out to be a positive. It has helped me to be able to befriend more Thai students than I would have been able to otherwise. I am also really lucky that the other exchange student in my faculty is really awesome and it has been great to have someone to travel to places near our campus and places closer into Bangkok with. I have learnt so much about Thailand and myself already and cannot wait for the next four and a half months here. I am going to try and post as much as I can on Instagram so if you would like to see more of my travels follow gabcarter.

New Sights, New Smells – Hong Kong

“Learn a little Cantonese and the locals will bend their backs to help you out”

Arriving in Hong Kong on my first day was both exciting and daunting at the same time – I had only been overseas less than a handful of times, let alone traveling by myself on this occasion. However, upon stepping foot on the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui, the crowds, the dazzling LED lights and the new smells were comforting – I knew then that my time in Hong Kong was only going to get better.

If you plan to come to Hong Kong, you may notice (as I did) that Hong Kong locals hold different conceptions of “personal space”. I first noticed this when I boarded the Hong Kong MTR (a feature of Hong Kong which you will become very familiar with and learn to appreciate very much) from the Hong Kong airport to my hotel. Locals were comfortable with standing or sitting close together on trains, buses or public transport in general.

This was interesting as it was a quick introduction to the cultural differences between Hong Kong and Australia. As such, if you do find yourself in the Hong Kong MTR or on a bus and a local sits or stands next to you despite there being an abundance of space or seats available – this is not meant to intrude but rather to save space.

Scenes such as this are not uncommon in Hong Kong – Photo Credit Arnold M

Hong Kong locals are friendly, warm and will do what they can to accommodate your needs. You will often find this when you order food at a restaurant or food stall. Despite the inherent language barriers, locals will find ways to communicate and help you with your order. If you wish, you may reciprocate their kindness by thanking the person who served you in Cantonese – this is very much appreciated. There are an abundance of resources available in YouTube or Google to help you with basic Cantonese.

For those of you who are excited to try the cuisine in Hong Kong, do not fret, I will address the very interesting topic of cuisine in another blog post given its vast and varied nature.

I am currently undertaking my single exchange semester in City University of Hong Kong (CityU). CityU is located in Kowloon Tong and is very accessible by the MTR as the university is connected to the MTR station via a small tunnel. CityU offers a diverse range of courses which range from studies in European and Asian languages to Principles of Nuclear Engineering.

Although the CityU campus is not large, it contains many interesting features of which I highly recommend that you take advantage of to help you make the most of your exchange semester – from swimming pools, restaurants and large canteens, rooftop gardens to barbecue facilities (rest assured I will taking advantage of the latter).

CityU has some very interesting areas where you can relax and escape the heat.

To close, if you do find yourself entertaining the idea of studying abroad for one or two semesters – do not hesitate any longer and visit the STAE office in level 1 of A block in QUT GP campus.

I will be covering more things about Hong Kong, so watch this space再見 (joigin)

Forever Hungry in Hong Kong

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“You may never go hungry in Hong Kong; however, you will feel the perpetual desire to eat being surrounded by delicious food” 

As a cultural hotpot, Hong Kong boasts a vast array of cuisines and delicacies unlike anything I have previously seen. If you decide to undertake your academic exchange in Hong Kong, you can expect the whole Asian continent on the menu. Restaurants are scattered all around Hong Kong – even in places where you wouldn’t expect a restaurant. Precariously sandwiched between soaring high-rises and glitzy, boutique clothing stores, it seems as though every third shop on Hong Kong island is a restaurant.

During my time in Hong Kong, there were some definite standout dishes. This included Poke, Dim2 Sam1, soup-dumplings, open-air eating and Portuguese egg-tarts.

Poke is a dish which originates from Hawaii and consists of seasoned shashimi grade fish. Customers at Pololi, one of the poke shops in Hong Kong and my favourite Poke shop so far, can choose to pair the fish with rice or salad and top the dish off with a variety of sauces. The result is a creamy, fresh and very filling meal.

A very filling bowl. You can find Pololi here: 35 – 39 Graham Street Central

Dim2 Sam1 has a very long history, dating back to the height of the Silk Route trade. Literally meaning “to touch the heart”, small dishes in Dim2 Sam1 allows diners to enjoy a variety of dishes and flavours. In Hong Kong, you will be spoilt for choice with the innumerable Dim2 Sam1 houses.

For me, Lin Heung tea house was a standout. Established in the 1980’s, Lin Heung is widely known for its traditional style and delicious food. At Lin Heung you are not given a menu sheet. Rather, you must chase after the ladies pushing the carts containing the dishes.

Don’t look for love, look for the cart with the delicious food.
Lin Heung – 162 Wellington St, Sheung Wan

Wrapped within a delicate casing, soup dumplings are a perfect blend of meat and delicate soup. Every bite is almost a complete meal by itself. There are several places where you can find soup-dumplings, you can find a full list here.

The perfect bite everytime. Soup dumplings.

Dai pai dongs are open air food stalls that usually set-up tables and chairs on the street. I’ve often heard that dai pai dongs are becoming increasingly rare due to governmental regulations.

If you are looking for a cheap, no-frills meal, then look no further than the humble dai pai dong. The dai pai dong featured below was located at the corner of Stanley St and Cochrane St in Central Hong Kong. However, there are many more located throughout Hong Kong, you can find a full list here.

In stark contrast to the high-end fashion, the space-aged cars and the suits, dai pai dongs offer a down-to-earth perspective to Hong Kong.

A sweet buicuity base, creamy custard filling and a sticky sugary glaze, each egg tart is a littble bit of happiness. Although this picture was taken in Macau, there are an abundance of places in Hong Kong where you can get your hands on one of these cups of joy.

Baked Happiness.
Portugese egg tarts.

 Tips before eating: 

Money matters: You would not want to be caught having finished a meal and not being able to pay for it, so make sure to always bring sufficient cash with you at all times. Many food stores in Hong Kong only take cash. 

Hygiene: If you choose to eat at a street stall in Hong Kong, a good rule of thumb to follow is to follow the crowd. A crowded stall is usually a good sign as it shows that food will be in constant circulation.

Secondly, don’t be afraid to wash your eating utensils. Restaurants will usually provide you will a large bowl big enough to fit all utensils inside and hot tea. Simply place the utensils in the bowl and wash it with the tea. Please don’t drink the tea afterwards. If you are unable to do so, cleaning your utensils with clean bottled water will also do.

 

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.

 

Cultures of Singapore

Aakanksha, B. Bachelor of Information Technology/Bachelor of Mathematics

Nanyan Technological University (Singapore) (Semester 2, 2016)

In the heart of South-East Asia, Singapore has more to offer than its incredible airport. Spending five months at the Nanyang Technological University as an overseas exchange student, I have learnt an immense amount about Singapore and myself. Singapore has most definitely established itself as being one of the most advanced cities in Asia, if not the world. So much so, it is the preferred location for many leading companies to have their regional APAC headquarters.

If regional culture is what you want to experience, Singapore is where you should end your search. Singapore is home to four main ethnic groups: Chinese, Malay, Indian and Others (which everyone else falls into and is roughly 3.3%). As a result, of these four very different groups, it seems like there is holiday or festival every few weeks. While on exchange, I experienced: Singapore National Day, Diwali and the Hungry Ghost Festival, with each festivity bringing its own traditions. Being originally from India, it was awesome seeing how big a celebration Diwali is outside India. Going to “Little India” on this day, I felt like I was back in any Indian city.

If you are a foodie, or if you just want food that is cheap and tastes good, you can’t go wrong in Singapore. From hawker centres to high end restaurants you will never go hungry. NTU campus had over 19 food courts each having various cuisines. In most cases you may only need to spend $10-$20 a day, even if you are on campus. Cost of living in Singapore can vary. In terms of food and transport, it is significantly cheaper than Australia. The maximum you could pay for a trip would roughly be $4; this would only happen if you go from one end of Singapore to the other (which I had to do when going from NTU all the way to the airport). Transport within Singapore isn’t the only thing that is cheap, even going overseas is. For example, I was able to make a trip to Thailand to see Krabi and the beautiful Phi Phi Islands, which was most definitely a highlight.

Accommodation within Singapore can be very expensive. I was lucky enough to get accommodation on campus and had to pay a full semester rate that was equivalent to that of an apartment for only one month. If you don’t want to stay on campus I strongly recommend finding somewhere close to campus and share an apartment with other exchange students. An advantage of staying on campus is that you save a great deal of time on travel. The NTU campus is located in Jurong, which is located one end of the island. If you want to go the main city, it can take up to an hour by MRT.   

There is one word to describe life on campus at NTU: awesome. As QUT does not offer the choice to live on campus, this was something that I was seriously looking forward to. It is not only the flexibility of being able to walk to class, but the ability to forge friendships with local and international students. With these friends you can go to hall and campus events and even overseas trips. After spending so much time together, you know you have formed friends for a life time.

Saving the serious for last, academics in Singapore is challenging, especially if you are taking core subjects (I was taking four). The thing that is drastically different to QUT is the fact that Singapore grades on a “bell curve”. This means that your grade is scaled according to everybody else’s in the class. I didn’t let this effect me too much and studied hard to ensure I did my best.

If you want to be challenged academically, the opportunity to experience different regional cultures, eat great food, travel within South East Asia at amazingly low fares, Singapore is your place!

 

Fashion in Hong Kong

Nhu, C. Bachelor of Design (Fashion)

Hong Kong Polythechnic University (Semester 2, 2016)

I studied fashion design at The Hong Kong Polythechnic University in second semester of my second year. The Institute of Textiles and Clothing in PolyU is significantly different to QUT fashion studios as they have a larger number in students, more facilities however the teaching was not as intimate. The institute offered eye-opening subjects such as knitting, colouration, intimate apparel, shoe design, denim design and so on. The teaching staff were also very experienced and supportive especially the pattern maker, knitting technician, colouration and finishing professor that taught me.

During my semester abroad, I made myself at home at the PolyU student accommodation. I paid approximately $1 600 for the whole semester which was significantly cheaper than living outside of the student dorms. It was one of the best decisions I made over in HK as I built strong friendships with my roommate, other exchange students and the workers within the building. It was also near the university, only taking 10 minutes by foot.  Within the student accommodation it provided functional, studying and leisure facilities including a communal gym, swimming pool, snooker pool room, game room, table tennis, dance room, kitchen, laundry room, study rooms and printers.

The cost of living was not as bad as I was expecting. I roughly spent $8000-9000 during the whole 4months (including flights, flights booked in HK, accommodation). Hong Kong is full of culture, mixing both Western and Eastern qualities. I didn’t experience much of a culture shock as my ethnical background is Chinese and Vietnamese.  Hong Kong was my home, the hustle and bustle of the night life and the sensational scenery as you escape the city will forever keep me wanting more. I met and became close friends with many of the locals and exchange students who’ve broadened my perspective on life and design.

My advice for students who are still undecided whether to go or not, I say go!! It’s true when past exchange students say it’s one of the most memorable and best experience. For the future exchange students, my advice is to learn as much as you can and take advantage of your host university’s curriculum but also don’t forget to make time for exploring your host country, be part of their culture, make both local and exchange friends, visit nearby countries and take up every opportunity!

Its what you make it

Nicola, B.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Semester 2, 2016)

The biggest shock when arriving at PolyU was that very little was online.  All the students prefer face-to-face contact and therefore no lectures are recorded, all questions are asked in class or you meet up with your lecturer/tutor, all assignments are still printed out and handed in and they are only just starting to build up blackboard. The students were all very motivated, spent so much extra time in the library and all group work was discussed in person. I really enjoyed my time on campus at PolyU.  They had so many events and different activities always happening on campus.  They may not have as many clubs but they put so much energy into the clubs and the different stalls they had set up were just amazing!  Many of my classes were quite interactive with one having 40 students going on a field trip to a company that organises a simulation where you can experience what it is like living in aged care.  This was a lot of fun and certainly an experience.

The halls accommodation was a bit of an adjustment having to life in such small quarters as well as with a roommate.  It was super close to the university, to public transport and to plenty of restaurants which made it worthwhile.  Most nights at about 7pm there would be a message from an international student organising to go for dinner that night so there was always an opportunity to be social.

Hong Kong is a very cheap place, particularly in relation to Australia.  Whilst some things were more expensive than anticipated, travelling around Hong Kong and to other countries close by was very easy and very cheap.  A real shock for me was the amount of people living in Hong Kong.  I knew it was a small country with a large population but I really was not expecting it to be as busy as it was.  Public transport would get so packed and at night  just walking down the sidewalk sometimes would be difficult with all the people around.  In saying that though, it is also a place that has many hiking routes and places to escape.  Many weekends involved exploring a different part and finding those quite places where everything is calm.  I was very lucky that I was put with some truly lovely local students that took me places, made suggestions and gave me any advice I needed.  Before I left for Hong Kong I had a lot of people tell me there was English everywhere and while English was on most signs and most people had broken English, it was not as common as I had anticipated.  This caused some difficulties while I was over there, particularly with some of the local students but for the most part could usually work around the language barrier.

The major highlight of my exchange was simply the friendships I formed while over there.  I certainly miss lots of people but I know have friendships all around the world and there is a certain special feeling in that.  While it was amazing to see the country and experience so many new adventures, it would not have been the same without new friends around me experiencing it too.  I suggest to anyone that is going on an exchange to just say yes to everything and just really make the most of everything that the experience is.  As the popular saying goes “it is what you make it” and I truly felt my exchange experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity with so many lasting memories.

Victoria Bridge, PolyU & Disneyland Hong Kong