Jiwon L, Bachelor of Design (Honours)
Korea University – International Winter Campus (Dec 2016– Jan 2017)
Korea University is one of the highest ranked universities in the world in a variety study areas. The campus is filled with historical and incredible gothic-style architecture. As an architecture student, looking around the campus was a great opportunity to experience the sights and also outside of campus there were so many great high-rise buildings I wouldn’t be able to find back in Brisbane, Australia.
Staying at Korea University’s dormitory was very enjoyable, meeting new friends from other cultures. I have built such a strong relationship with my roommates, so we went out to travel Seoul together outside the campus. We went to Dongdaemoon to see one of my favourite architect’s work, Zaha Hadid, during the weekends and other cities and enjoyed the culture of Seoul. As Seoul is one of the top cities that has highly developed transport, it was very easy to travel inner cities without spending a lot of money.
I have met very warm and welcoming friends from different places and cultures and sharing this experience with them was such a wonderful experience that I am not likely to have in life again. If you are a student who loves travel and exploring busy cities, Korea University in Seoul is the perfect place to be.
Jessica R, Bachelor of Business/Law
CIS Australia: January in London (January, 2017)
I completed a short-term program at the University of Roehampton, a beautiful parkland university in London. The campus was picturesque, and the facilities were very useful and easily accessible. The accommodation was situated on campus, in a brand new building. The rooms were single and very comfortable, with a double bed, desk, kettle, television, and en suite. Classes were held one level up, and breakfast and dinner were two levels up, so it was very quick and easy to get around!
The program I chose was London’s art, history, and society. Classes were held every day for 2 weeks, but only half of these days were held in a classroom. Every other day was spent on excursions exploring London’s historic sites, including the Tower of London, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Museum of London, and the British Museum. The excursions were a great way to experience London’s vast history, whilst exploring the theory we had been taught in classes.
The UK is similar to Australia in many ways, so culture shock wasn’t as big of an issue there as it might be elsewhere. Although I had often heard that London was very expensive, I didn’t find that to always be the case. Food could be expensive off campus, but with breakfast and dinner provided by the university, and my lunch and weekend meals mainly bought on campus, this wasn’t much of an issue for me.
Public transport in London is great, and it is very easy to get around with an Oyster card. Travelling from place to place throughout the day could get expensive, but there is a daily limit after which transport is free.
This program was an unforgettable experience, and I loved every moment of it. The campus and its staff were very welcoming, and I felt comfortable knowing there were always people I could turn to if I needed help with anything. I thoroughly enjoyed my classes and the excursions we went on, and learnt valuable information. Studying at an overseas university is an entirely different experience than holidaying there. In just 2 ½ weeks I established my independence, developed as a person, and made life-long friends. My advice for any student considering exchange is: just go for it! It might seem daunting going to another part of the world on your own, but it is entirely worth it. Put yourself out there, make the most of the time you have, and you will have the experience of a lifetime.
If you are interested in undertaking a short-term program during the QUT semester breaks, check out the QUT Global Portal.
James W, Bachelor of Engineering
Polytechnic University of Madrid (Semester 2, 2016)
Madrid is a large, lively, beautiful and friendly city. There are always events and things to do, incredible public transport, a compact city centre and it is really safe! Even though it is a big metropolitan city it still has an interesting and different culture. It´s very refreshing to learn about Spanish history, customs and traditions that continue to influence the country a lot today in spite of globalisation and tourism.
If you ever get bored of the capital, Spain is an incredible country to explore. Every single town and city has its own festival, most of them being week long parties filled with free live music, fireworks, dancing, shows and events. Most of these are around summer but don´t miss out whilst you´re there! I went to: la Tomatina, a festival where everyone throws tomatoes at each other. Semana Grande, a week long festival of free music, theatre, sporting events, fireworks and performances. Las Fallas, a festival where artists spend the entire year creating incredibly tall statues the size of buildings and large trees before burning them all on one spectacular night. San Fermines, a week long festival where every morning they run bulls and people down the middle of the streets! There are many more someone could go to and they´re all very different depending on the local region and culture!
The universities are totally different to ours in Australia which makes for a really interesting and potentially challenging experience as well. The bureaucracy, facilities and teaching styles are quite different and seem a bit outdated but actually have a lot of advantages too. The classes tend to be smaller with attendance often compulsory, which makes it easier to get to know the professors and become more interested in the subjects. There is often less dependence on technology which can help fight against the distractions of the internet and “computer says no” bureaucracy.
Living in Madrid is also great because it´s very cheap! There is accommodation for all budgets to be able to live centrally, I lived in the city centre for less than 110 dollars a week with only a week’s search (although a reasonable understanding of Spanish may be required for this). Unlimited public transport pass is 30 dollars a month for under 26 year olds with most services run from 6am to 2am. There are also 24/7 bus routes connecting to the city centre. The university offers 3 course buffet style meals for $7.5 which are so big I used to split the meals across lunch and dinner. That´s less than $8 for lunch, dinner and dessert – they even wash the dishes for you! Coffee can be bought in cafe´s for as cheap as a dollar as well. Going out is also great as they have an incredible bar and tapas culture as well as a wide variety of clubs although most the music is reggaeton, which you´ll learn to love as well.
So go there, make some great friends, travel the country, go to some festivals and enjoy the great tapas and cheap cañas!
Holly T, Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Creative Industries
IESEG School of Management (Semester 2, 2016)
Returning from exchange, I still have to pinch myself that I spent a semester abroad in Paris (!!!!). It honestly still feels like a dream and was by far the best experience of my life.
I attended IESEG School of Management, at their Paris campus. I was the only QUT student to attend this campus (their other being in the north of France in Lille), and when I arrived found out I was also the only Australian at the whole university. Talk about culture shock! There is no sugar-coated way to put it, but at the start of this experience I was extremely overwhelmed. Not only did I underestimate the limited number of people who speak English in France, but also underestimated the cultural difference between my peers and I. I travelled around Europe for a month before arriving in Paris, and thought I had this European thing worked out… however Aussies will always be that little bit different. Fortunately, this grey period only lasted about 2 weeks and after this I felt more at home than ever. Meeting people from all over the world, and having a great group of friends all from the Nordic countries, exchange was nothing like I had ever expected… but even better.
IESEG has a completely different way of functioning to QUT, and I completed 14 subjects over the semester, both masters and bachelor courses, all ranging from 13 weeks to just one week long. It was a SUPER intensive study load, with non-attendance to classes meaning you fail, so the time spent at the campus was quite a lot. That being said, I learnt so much about so many different topics. Doing my QUT electives while I was there meant I had the freedom to pick almost anything from their wide range of courses. My favourites included Parisian contemporary society, retail marketing strategy, online global retail, trends in digital innovation, and market of art. For each class the mark would be based on attendance, an oral presentation and an exam or assignment.
IESEG is located at La Defense, in the central business district of Paris, just outside the actual borders. However as the campus accommodation provided was a lot more expensive I sourced my own accommodation through Air BnB. I stayed in an apartment in the 6th arrondissement in Saint Germain that was absolutely incredible and only a 20 minute metro ride to uni. It allowed me to experience a lot more of the culture and environment of Paris, with bakeries on every corner and within walking distance of the Seine river and the Jardin De Luxembourg. I would highly recommend this option if studying in Paris, as most other students did the same. It was easy to go to each other’s places and also meet up throughout the city. The cost of living in Paris is quite high. Transport with the metro is expensive compared to Australia. There are options for both low and high-priced food… but French food is delicious, and the city is flooding with restaurants and bars, you will eat out a lot more than you think.
During my exchange I travelled to many other countries, and having the ability to do so was definitely a highlight of my experience. Meeting with friends on exchange elsewhere in Europe to see their host-cities, and then exploring even more cities together has been the best way to travel for an extended period but also continue my studies. Another highlight of the experience would be exploring France, and seeing the diverse areas of this amazing country. It is by far my favourite place in the world. The people are not what every one says they are – they were friendly and always willing to have a laugh at my poor French or their poor English. The amount of ‘lost in translation’ moments I had were too funny to recount. The cheese and bread is better than what people say, and honestly you will be a foie gras connoisseur in no time at all.
I recommend to everyone to go on exchange. It is quite honestly the best thing I have ever done. Paris is an amazing city, and I felt so at home there.
I’ve been living in Vienna for two months now, (which is kind of scary in itself – I’m over a third of a way through exchange and I’ve somehow survived 2 months of solo living). In these two months, I’ve realised Vienna is an incredible city to live in.
People often ask me why I chose Vienna: the locals with a tone of disbelief in their
voice, and Australians with a genuine curiosity, bordering on slight doubt. For me, it’s because of the experience. When else will I be able to live in such a different country? Any move overseas takes courage. I’m not tooting my own horn here, but if you want to see how courageous you are, making your first move out of home to a country on the other side of the planet is a pretty good litmus test. I did it to test myself. I can safely say that I’ve successfully achieved that objective. Whilst there have been moments where I’ve questioned my sanity in taking the leap to go on exchange, it’s
been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and the liveability and charm of Vienna has helped make the transition very smooth.
The metro system here (as it generally is throughout Europe) is great – it’s very efficient, interconnected, and the apps to figure out how to get from point A to B are also easy to navigate. I think when I come home, that’s going to be one of the things I’ll miss the most about Vienna.
I study at WU – the Vienna University of Economics and Business. Like at QUT, the staff are passionate about what they teach. However, the assessment style and the way classes are run are a little different from QUT. There’s a heavy emphasis here on class participation, and assessment tends to be numerous smaller assignments, or assessed homework, rather than the traditional ‘Assignment/Mid-Sem/Final’ that we’re used to at QUT. Class length and regularity also vary considerably – some classes are 3 hours (generally semester-long), others can be 8 hours, because they’re
intensives (like Summer semester). Some classes may be twice a week for a month, or they may be once a week for the semester, or until Christmas: this is both a blessing and a (mild) curse. Blessing because it means you aren’t locked into a timetable, giving you freedom to traverse Europe through semester. It’s only a mild curse because you can’t remember your room or timetable.
The campus is also incredibly modern – the oldest buildings there are from about 2013, when the university relocated to its present location. This lies in stark contrast to the rest of Vienna, where every building looks gorgeous, no matter how mundane its purpose.
Whilst Vienna is not quite as integrated with nature as Brisbane is, there are plenty of walks through green areas on the city’s fringes. These are all easily accessible by public transport, and you could very easily spend 4-5 hours just following the trails, like I did when I walked through the beautiful Vienna Wood.
Two months in and my exchange in Vienna is proving to be a fantastic adventure – I’m still always finding new things, and I can’t believe how the time has flown.
My last post had lots of information about the university and O Week at U of C. This time I would like to focus more so on Calgary and Alberta. Calgary is the perfect city in size, people and activity. Calgary has about 1.1 million people meaning that it has a lot of great services but isn’t too big.
Firstly – transportation
Calgary has two train lines, the Red and the Blue. While staying at U of C you will likely only use the Red line which travels NE to SW. Although the train isn’t all that quick around Calgary, it is convenient and takes to right into the heart of the downtown area. There is a stop at the university (although it is on the other side of the campus), and stops to all major areas including sporting grounds.
Calgary’s buses are decent. I find them comparable to ones in Brisbane, not super fast, but not horrible either. There are a number of routes traveling from the university to close shopping malls or districts, however, unless going somewhere nearby, the trains are generally easier. The best part of public transit here is that you pay $130 at the beginning of the semester to get a UPass sticker for you university ID, which you then show the drivers, and you don’t have any more to pay.
Taxis are not as expensive here as back home (but you will hear Canadians complain about them). You will be expected to tip though, so keep that in mind and maxis aren’t really a thing. There is sadly no Uber 🙁
Secondly – activities
There is an abundance of fun activities to do in Calgary and the surrounds. Small concerts are held on the university grounds every so often as well as around the city reasonable frequently. Keep your eyes peeled for posters around campus or the city. If not in Calgary, then artists usually perform in Banff which is a rather short bus trip away.
There are incredible hikes or walks close to the city. I recently hiked Ha Ling Peak in Canmore (about 1 hour drive), which was difficult (partly due to my fitness level, but also due to the thinner air) but definitely worth it for the view. It gets quite cold up the top so bring layers!
10 friends and I also took a road trip to Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia (BC). The trip was about 3.5 hours (if the van hadn’t broken down) and absolutely worth every penny! As we drove to Radium, every corner brought new mountains and magnificent views, while the town itself was full of awesome walks and, of course, hot springs!
If you are looking for something closer to Calgary I would recommend ice skating or catching a game of Canadian football or ice hockey. You can ice skate on campus at the Olympic Oval for $5 skate and helmet hire. Entry is free. All U of C Dinos games are free and the football games walking distance from campus (the hockey is just a train ride away).
Calgary Stampeders (football) games are walking distance (McMahon Stadium) and you can get tickets in the nosebleeds for $25 (if you buy a few days early). The Calgary Flames (ice hockey) games are held at the Scotiabank Saddledome a bit more expensive and worse seats but look for deals on StubHub or for student games.
Otherwise the Calgary Hitmen, a team in the WHL (so under 23 ice hockey) also play at the Saddledome and tickets will likely be cheaper. Or if you’re like me, become friends with someone who gets free tickets (thanks Josh)!
Of course I should mention all of the bars and clubs around the city. Everyone has different tastes so I will let you figure that out for yourself. I will say that The Den (on campus) turns into a conveniently located club on Thursdays, and that Commonwealth is also popular. As far as bars go – Ranchman’s on Saturdays (country), Kilkenny’s (at Brentwood – about 10 minutes on the bus and great for sports) and The Ship & Anchor (17th Ave SW – great for food) are all a bit of fun. It’s a good idea to carry cash out, as some places only take cash at the bar. Ladies also get in cover-free on Wednesdays at Cowboys because it is ladies night. Remember to tip!
And of course, more known things like the Calgary Tower, Stephen Ave Walk and the path along the river are also great for a free day.
Finally – weather
Be warned that the weather can change quickly. One day it will be cool, but sunny and the next day will be snowy. Dress in layers!
That’s it for now but as usual, if you have specific questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finances: I budgeted way under what I actually needed. I didn’t take into account the fact that the dollar was so bad, I lost almost half of my money due to the exchange rate. When I went to pay my tuition it ended being a lot more expensive because the dollar dropped. I definitely think students needs to save for at least 6 months in advance. I did however go over there a month early and live in NYC and stayed 3 months longer to travel. If I was just over there for the semester period I would’ve had enough money. The cost of living in Upstate New York is pretty reasonable, but in the US it all depends on where you live. NYC is extremely expensive, not only for living but just everything in general. Los Angeles is a bit cheaper depending on which part you live in but in general I find Brisbane is a lot cheaper. I did find that alcohol is very cheap over there though and the food portions are just massive, you definitely get your money’s worth.
Challenges: I didn’t have any culture shock, America is pretty similar to Australia. It was weird being so ‘fascinating’ to everyone over there. I don’t know how many times people just stared at me in shock while I talked and when I stopped they’d tell me to keep going. They love Aussie’s over there which is kinda cool because you’re treated like you’re really important or something! Safety wise I just made sure I didn’t put myself into any dangerous situations, which I do anywhere I go. I also took out Gold Insurance with InsurenGo so I was covered for basically everything. The only challenge I experience was with my friend Gemma on a flight from Miami to LA, mid-flight the plane filled with smoke and there was apparently an issue with the right engine. We had to make an emergency landing in the middle of nowhere in Texas and sit in a dodgy airport for 6 hours until a new plane came. Then when we went to take off the luggage was apparently too heavy so we had to go back to the gate and then the bag scanner broke so they had to count the bags manually. It was just a disaster. We ended up sitting on the plane for 4 hours running out of water and there was no food to serve us. We ended up getting to LA 12 hours delayed at 4.30am. It was December 23rd so we missed a lot of Christmas plans and so did a lot of other people which caused some issues on the plane.
Tips: I advise anyone going over there to never book a flight with American Airlines, they were the airline we flew with when we had the 12 hour delay. They refused to put us up in a hotel in LA until the next morning when we were able to get a bus to central California and they refused to reimburse us for any of the delays. We ended up having to pay for a $400 Uber to the place we were going to. Other than that I had no issues with flights or anything. I will say this also, if you’re looking to hire a car and are under 25 ensure you have a credit card, because they wont let you hire a car if you’re under 25 and don’t have a credit card. One must have on exchange is a working phone because you will get lost sometimes and need to have a GPS to figure out where you are and where you need to go. And also a backpack, because when travelling it is so easy to throw it on your back with all your valuables in it and not worry if its going to go missing on a flight or if someone is going to go through it.
Benefits: I absolutely loved Exchange, I met so many amazing people and have made lifelong friends. It’s just an awesome experience, you get to travel a new country, experience college life outside of Australia and you just grow as a person. I just feel like I’m more open-minded now and unfortunately for my bank account I have the travel bug now. It is just basically 4 months of fun and if you stay longer than it is even more fun. I would 100% go again if I had the opportunity.
I chose HTW based accounts from students who had previously done semester abroad there. It was also in Berlin and I knew this is where I wanted to spend my semester abroad. It was an amazing opportunity to live and study in Berlin at a time when it is flourishing.
My first impression of HTW were not exceptionally great. The campus which we had our orientation was physically very ugly, however this style of architecture is common around Berlin so was not of a great bother, and the excitement of starting the semester was greater.
Berlin is an amazing place. There is an intangible sense of freedom within the city. At the moment it is in a very dynamic period, lots of young creatives are living there and you really can do anything. It was also a very interesting time to be there, in the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis and to be a witness to this mammoth human migration, and see how it will affect Europe.
The buildings of HTW’s second campus, where I had most of my classes were redeveloped from an old cable factory and the facades were really cool, all brick buildings and alongside the river. HTW had fashion specific facilities which QUT does not, including extensive knitting machines and screen printing equipment. However to use a basic sewing machine was harder than doing any of this specialist stuff, there were not a lot of machines and time to use them was very restricted, which was nonsensical considering that the cohort was really large.
Based on accounts of students who had previously done a semester in Berlin, I chose not to live in student accommodation. Student accommodation was in a far out suburb and I wanted to experience living right in the centre of Berlin. I knew I would be harder to find something, and it was, but I also wanted the challenge to put myself on another level of independence, and it did.
However finding accommodation was extremely difficult.
All that said finding accommodation was extremely hard and difficult. Friends of mine rented through Airbnb, this worked out well for them as they were three, and could rent a whole apartment. I arrived about a week before university started and began to hunt. There is a massive amount of people arriving in Berlin all the time, especially students at the beginning of semester and mostly everyone wants to live in the same few central neighborhood. There is only a finite number of rooms and this makes things incredibly difficult.
It was very stressful at times but it was a period of growth and it worked out in the end. I ended up living in a flat with an Albanian girl, in a great location. In hindsight it was a great learning experience and when it worked out it was great. I was sort of homeless, living in short term rentals for about three months but it stretched me and made me think about myself and how I react and cope. So it was a learning experience.
At times the language barrier was a problem. My German was below par and some of the lecturers would not/could not speak with us in English. I don’t believe they should have had to, but their refusal was really frustrating especially in Patternmaking, where we were learning technical methods and had to rely on other students to translate. In this situation, and when we were figuring out the specifics of assessment, it was really useful being in such a big group (there were 7 of us from the BFA) as we shared information.
As exchange students our work was not graded on a scale , only pass or fail and so in that regard the academic intensity was lesser. I was however doing six subjects and at QUT I would only be dong 4, so in that regard it was more intense. It was interesting to experience another studio system, as QUT focuses much more on technical production than HTW did and I appreciate this more and I believe that it shows within the work.
I left Australia with $14 000 AUD. This was comprised of personal savings as well as all the HECS loans/grants etc and I was also receiving centerlink while studying. This money lasted me for the whole six month exchange and two months of travel prior.
The day to day cost of living in Berlin is cheap! Transport (which is great) was covered within our university fee, food is cheap and so is alcohol. Rend was not however, I paid 450 euro ($650) a month for my room. I used a Citybank account to access this money, as they do not charge withdrawal fees. As a backup I also had a traveller card with my normal bank.
Lots of challenges come with moving to another city and establishing life there for however short amount of time. However cliché it may sound, these challenges are what grows you as a person and makes the experience so rewarding and enjoyable.
Quite quickly I fell into a quite a large friendship group, which was great. It was somewhat easy to make friends with other exchange students as most people are quite open and are wanting to have the same fun time.
I did not find European culture that drastically different from Anglo-Saxon Australian culture to incur culture shock. But there were enough differences to keep things interesting. The change in weather was a large challenge for me. I know that I do not cope very well with the cold, and I learned to manage this, but another factor was the drastic lack of sun. You can get used to anything though.
I find travel a sort of secret ingredient to creativity. It allows for time and space away from the familiar and mundane, you learn and see things, which then changes your perspective on many facets of life. Then it is about taking with you what you have learnt, and integrating it back into your life and living in a sort of new and improved way. Exchange has allowed me to see a part of the world and expand myself, my expectations and my capacity. It is an amazing opportunity to not only travel, but live in another country as a student, I would absolutely recommend it.
My exchange to the Hong Kong Polytechnic University was one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences of my time at QUT. I was exposed to new cultures, new ideas and new ways of thinking, and met an array of interesting people from countries all around the world.
I chose to study at Hong Kong for several reasons. Firstly, Hong Kong is an international hub with a diverse population, food and culture. In a similar fashion, Hong Kong stands as a centre for the business world which aligned well with my passion for finance. Finally, I wanted to explore Asia and see what countries like China had on offer.
Arriving in Hong Kong was initially a very challenge experience. From my very first taxi ride into the city, I noticed that there were language barriers, though many people had a working understanding of English. I also shared a room at the campus halls, which was an entirely new experience altogether. Since my roommate was Chinese, it took some adjusting to accommodate for our different habits and sharing what was a particularly small living space. Ultimately, we became good friends and often assisted each other in day-to-day Hong Kong life.
Hong Kong itself is a busy city. Everything is expected to move quickly, so service is fast, and the people move faster. There are plenty of attractions in Hong Kong; the shopping, great nightlife, unique restaurants and also tranquil natural areas. I found myself enjoying time spent at Hong Kong’s various beaches and hikes. Taking a break from the city life in the more peaceful areas of Hong Kong is quite special. The pictures below are of Hong Kong’s natural infinity pool and the view from Lion’s Rock.