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!
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.
Bachelor of Business
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Need a go-to guide to Copenhagen?
Yassi’s Top CPH tips:
- Buy a good quality bike
- Learn the basic phrases
- Go out and enjoy everything Copenhagen has to offer, trust me there is loads
- Grocery shop at Lidl and Netto before Fotex
- When it’s sunny have a day on the Go Boats
- Eat at Paper Island, Moller and Grod
- Spend time cycling around the cool little areas like Ostebro, Norrebro and Frederiksberg
- Use a travel card such as the QANTAS card, it’s the cheapest way to spend money, Copenhagen uses card for everything, very few places will take cash only but many are card only. I would also recommend having multiple cards in different places in cases one is lost or stolen. No need to open a Danish bank account it will be more of a struggle and it’s super easy to just use your Australian bank card it will just charge you a few cents every time you make a purchase.
- When you arrive in Copenhagen go to Central Station and talk to the people there about what is your best option for a transport card. I personally had 2, one monthly pass that required a passport photo and it would be a once a month payment for unlimited rides on all transport in Zone 1 and 2 but I also had a Rejsekort card which is kind of like a Go Card which I would use if I was going into Zone 3 and 4. Always make sure you pay for transport because the fines are huge!
- Get a really great everyday backpack
- Get comfy fashionable sneakers
- If you are going to make any big purchases make sure they are done within 3 months of leaving Europe to get your tax back at the airport
- Go for lunch in Sweden… literally it’s like 50 minutes away!
- Visit other cities in Denmark like Aarhus it’s a really cool town
- The Danes are not rude just private, don’t be offended if they seem like they are keeping to themselves but if you do need anything they are really lovely.
- Make your room feel homely, take a trip to IKEA and get little things that will make you feel more at home.
- PORTABLE CHARGERS!!!! They will save your life! Because it gets so cold your phone will freeze and just shut down so always have a charger with you.
If you would like to know more or have any questions at all no matter how long or small feel free to add me on Facebook and ask away! You are going to have the time of your life, trust me!
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.
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.
(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.
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!
“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.
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).
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)
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kathleen, O. Bachelor of Business
Norwegian Business School (Semester 2, 2017)
Norway? Why did you pick Norway? – Most common question I received after getting my acceptance letter. Next in line was Australia *shocked face* gosh that must have been a long flight, how long did it take? Really long mostly, but it was definitely worth it.
So why did I pick Norway? Well it was as far away from Australia I could think of, I was getting the opportunity of immersing myself into a different culture (but where they still speak English) and I was guaranteed to see snow. I have seen snow before just FYI but come on its snow, who doesn’t like snow?!Well I got to see snow, sadly only for a couple of weeks but I can now say that I lived somewhere it snowed, so I’m happy.
Norway is a beautiful country with its extremely picturesque mountains and fjords. For my exchange in Norway, I was based in the capital city, Oslo. It was a bit of an adjustment for me because while it’s the capital city, Norway does only have a population of 5.3 million so Oslo wasn’t really a big city.
It may be a small city but its big at heart, there is always something going on in the city.
Like most European countries, transportation in Oslo was great and easy to use, I love ferries and one of my highlights during my stay in Oslo was catching a ferry to the Islands on the fjord, have a picnic, watch the sunset and see some natural wildlife – I was followed around the island by a couple of foxes, so cute. The downside to Oslo and Norway is that the cost of living is high, so be prepared to come home broke like I did. The transportation card for 30 days costs about 70 AUD, rent (I was staying at the student dorms run by the university) including electricity will set you back somewhere around the 600-700AUD a month. I would recommend the student dorms though, because they mostly come fully furnished so you don’t have to buy much.
Studying at BI is a bit different to QUT there is a lot more emphasis on independent study. You still have the standard 3-hour contact hours, but instead of a lecture and tutorial, it’s just a 3-hour lecture. Also at least for me my final grade was 100% made of by my final exam or term paper. Which was a bit daunting and I found that it made studying at BI a lot harder than at QUT, as there was no way to assess how I was
actually doing with the course content and if I needed to put more study time in. Thankfully, to pass you only require 30%, which was lucky for me as I spend more time travelling then studying.
One of the things I really liked abut studying at BI was the events they run throughout the semester focused but not exclusively towards international and exchange students. So there was free weekly coffee days, hiking and activity trips, and free food. Once a month (ish) BI runs a free food night, usually themed, called BI-nner. You have to get in fast though because everyone likes a free feed and tickets sell out in minutes. The University of Oslo also holds free movie nights once a fortnight, in their lecture halls. Its just a 10min train ride to the University from BI, so as ways to save money but hang out with your new found friends, this is a must.
While I was living in Norway, I spend some time travelling Norway. I went to Bergen via the train – the worlds best scenic train ride apparently – and they are not wrong.
Plus side too is that train is a lot cheaper than flying in Norway, downside it takes nearly 3 times as long to get where you are going. I also went to Tromso, saw the northern lights and went dog sledding. As recommendations go, Tromso or the Loften Islands is a must do if you are ever in Norway. I also got to travel around Europe. I went to Amsterdam with the International Student Society at BI. One of my friends and I also spent the weekend in Budapest – such a beautiful city and really cheap. We also spend a week in London after our exams had finished.
We saw the Lion King and Aladdin, saw the sunset over London from the eye and shopped, shopped until our hearts were content.
I could go on about all the amazing things I did and saw while on my exchange but I would be here for ages. So my parting gift – seriously go on an exchange, I can’t recommend it enough! It is worth every dollar of my spend pennies.