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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Taiwan – the First Month

Taipei 101

Even before I started my first day at university, I was certain one of my goals was to study abroad. Now at the beginning of my 3rd year it has finally kicked off; I am spending an entire semester at the National ChengChi University in Taipei, Taiwan. My choice in coming here was supported by the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant which will greatly enhance my capacity to experience, engage, and enjoy Taiwan to its fullest potential.

I left home on 12 February and began the 20 hours of travel. Yes, the Asia-Pacific region and it still takes that long. Partially because the cheapest flight had a six hour layover in Singapore (Changi is the best airport in the world, so amongst the movies, butterfly gardens, and sunflower gardens I really didn’t mind).   I also didn’t fully realize until I made the trip how far down Australia is and how far up Taiwan is. It was literally the same flight time as for most of the Europeans. However, when it came to jet lag the time difference was only two hours, so that was a piece of cake.

Some of the other international peeps that are here at NCCU on exchange this semester.

While living here I am staying in the International house run by the university. The location is prime, a five-minute walk from university, and we are at the east edge of the city, bordering the scenic rainforest mountains. The river also runs just by the university, its entire stretch has walkways, parks, and basketball courts every 100 metres or so, hence Wednesday night is progressively becoming Basketball night among the I-house residence. It’s also easy access to the city, provided you take the bus heading in the right direction. I confess the whole ‘driving on the right side of the road’ sent me a long way in the wrong direction on my first attempt at going into the city.

 

Yangmingshan – National Park.

My first week here was great.  I spent a lot of time getting my bearings just by exploring the city. On the first Friday we ventured on our first out-of-town trip.  We took the bus to a town called Jiufen, where the entire city is located on the slope of the mountain. Located to the north-east, the town is famous for its scenery. We spend the arvo roaming the markets followed by hiking to the top of Keelung Mountain. Unfortunately, Taiwan’s rapidly changing weather got the better of us and almost just as we arrived at the top it became a total white out. However, if you do find yourself in Taipei this is 10/10 on the must-do list of places to visit.

Chicken Butt. 5 for the equivalent of $2AUD, and despite my concerned face it turned out to be delicious!

My adjustment to the lifestyle here has been an adventure. With no real cooking facilities at I-house eating out is the norm, and as it turns out that is the Taiwan way, for every meal. The idea of buying breakfast every day sounds like a mortgage in Australia but here, not only is it affordable, but it’s such a social way to start my day. I wander down to the place I’ve picked out as ‘my local’ and grab two of the best Taiwanese omelet pancake things with special soy sauce I’ve ever tried. My other food experiences have all been fabulous, not so stinky-stinky tofu, whole fried squid, chicken butt, lots of dumplings, Baozi and bubble tea! Taiwan has such a diverse range of authentic Asian cuisine available there is no shortage of food to try and enjoy. Not all shopping has resulted in such positive results though. The language barrier caused me some confusion; turns out it was not washing liquid that I bought on my first attempt, but bleach.   I’m sticking to my story that my bleach-splattered clothing is an Australian craze…

Lantern Festival with some of my local buddies.

The highlight of week two was having the chance to experience Taipei’s lantern festival.  We traveled to a neighboring town called Pingxi which is where they hold the sky lantern side of the celebrations. We arrived late in the afternoon and already we could see lanterns flying off sporadically all over the place. We explored the town which was completely taken over by markets and festivities. Eventually we found ourselves at the small show grounds where there was a huge stage with live music. Every half-hour there was a coordinated release of lanterns, sending over 100 up into the sky all at once. What a truly magical sight to see!

Sky Lantern Festival in Pingxi

Now we are well and truly in the swing of a daily routine. Classes have begun and for that I spend four days over at the campus. For the remaining three days of the week I now have access to a motorcycle which has opened up a world of opportunities when it comes to accessibility and traveling about the island. The university social clubs have many trips and camps lined up for our opportunity to meet locals and see the sights. I have done so much in the time here already and I have literally only just begun!

Re-imagining India: Three Parts Exhilarating, One Part Exhausting

Alicia Shorey, Bachelor of Design

Short-term Program: Reimagining India Experiential Learning Program

India (December 2018)

What can I say other than it is an experience of a lifetime. The Re-imagining India program is 3 parts exhilarating and one-part exhausting, but amazing none the less.

Taj Mahal

Over the course of two weeks I was submerged into Indian culture and dipped into a world so full of vibrancy that it allowed me to open my eyes up to so many different ways of thinking. The photos showcase a glimpse of my journey through Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur which consisted of morning yoga and Bollywood classes, industry and NGO visits, cultural sites and beyond.

Vibrant Elephants in India

A highlight of mine was Jaipur Foot which is an organisation which provides free prosthetic limbs to those in need. While there, we were able to see how the organisation operated and see first-hand how this organisation is restoring faith in many people. Being able to watch a limb being fitted and its instant effect on a person’s life was indescribable and something I’ll never forget.

Jaipur Foot

The program overall was jam-packed with a variety of activities to fit all interests. Delicious meals were provided every day and the overall cost of the trip excluding flights is next to nothing. What are you waiting for?

The program had activities to suit all interests

Coming back to AUS

My time in Japan – after 5 months – has ultimately come to an end. It was an unforgettable time that (like a cliche) went all too quickly. But I must say, it’s good to be back in Australia, the familiarity and nostalgia of home are comforting. Not to say that there weren’t any challenges upon my return. Maybe the strangest negative aspect about returning home was the uncomfortability about suddenly being surrounded by Australians as opposed to Japanese people! I was surprised that I felt so uneasy being surrounded by my own countrymen and women. However, this feeling soon passed once I met up with some familiar and friendly faces.

Now, I suppose I should recap my time in Japan; but how could I possibly condense 5 months into a mere few hundred words? I think that I cannot and any attempt I would make would be abysmal. Nonetheless, I can make some confirmations for those who are thinking of coming to Japan. Japanese people are lovely and polite, the scenery and culture are mesmerising and in general it is a fantastic place to experience.

I think the most important part about exchange is not the place you visit, but (cliche incoming) the people you meet whilst on it are. People from around the World with different views and experiences that can make you a better person and make your time truly unforgettable. I’ve met people from Germany, Poland, China and more whom I can say are my firm friends. These people are what made my time in Japan so unforgettable and I couldn’t ask for a better group of friends.

So, if you are anxious about going on exchange or can’t quite make up your mind about whether it’s a good idea or not, I would suggest that you think about the possibilities of what could become of such an adventure. The people you could meet, the places you could see, the food you could eat, the things you could learn, the experiences you could have. I’m not promising that it will all be amazing, but there is so many fantastic possibilities that could become blissful realities if you take a chance. So, take a step in the dark and see what becomes of it for yourself.

Reimagining India – “an invigorating experience that I will never forget”

Zeyn Janif, Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)

Short-term program: Reimagining India Experiential Learning Program

India (December 2018)

I had the privilege to join 50 other students from universities all over Australia on a short-term study program in India, which was funded by the New Colombo Plan, an Australian initiative encouraging students to study abroad in the Indo-Pacific regions. I was excited to travel to India not only because I had never been there before, but also because it was a country full of mystery to me.

The amazing people of Indogenius provided an intense itinerary designed for us to engage with India’s past, present and future. Some of the main subjects we were introduced to were the culture, history, technology, economy, innovation, and a whole many more to list. We visited various religious sites, including one of my highlights of the trip, a visit to a Sikh temple. I felt a real sense of piety as I immersed myself into the rich culture, and what struck me was just how significant it was in their everyday lives, something we rarely see in western society. I even had the chance to attend a traditional Hindu wedding where I saw the continuity of a strong culture and religion focus as I congratulated the bride and groom.

My highlights as a student included visits to the various businesses, including the multinational corporation, Infosys, the Indian version of MIT, IIT Bombay, a visit to Jaipur Foot; a non-profit organization providing free prosthetic limbs to millions, an elementary school catering for children from poor family backgrounds, and a visit to one of the largest slums in Asia. These experiences deepened my appreciation for life and encouraged me to have a greater focus on the wellbeing of others and myself. There was so much that was covered on the trip, that it managed to have some relevance to the diverse study backgrounds among the 50 of us. We travelled to 4 major cities in India; New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Mumbai, and there was really not much time to relax. The days started off quiet early and went long into the night, I recommend bringing bulk Berocca tablets or consider drinking coffee if you don’t already. We were lucky enough to stay at comfortable 4 star hotels, which included an abundance of food buffets encouraging us to indulge into the Indian cuisines. A friendly FYI, I highly recommend you build your spicy food tolerance before going, as some of the food can be unforgiving. Among the many flavorsome dishes, my savior was actually the masala chai! One of the things that made this trip really enjoyable was experiencing India with all of the amazing people I met.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Indogenius members, to the students, we all seemed to get along right from the get go, and by the end we had all formed new friendships and remain in contact with each other to this day. We had some really entertaining moments, from our Bollywood dancing and games nights, to the hamstring pulling yoga sessions. Despite it being a short 2 weeks, I had found growth both personally and professionally, and had learnt more than I ever would have in a classroom. If you’re thinking of taking the big step in overseas study, just remember to soak it all in and enjoy every moment, because it will be gone before you know it.

A World Class Fashion Experience in Paris

Ashleigh Hobbs, Bachelor of Creative Industries

Short-term program: IESEG ‘Fashion Business in Paris 2018’

France (July 2018)

My name is Ashleigh Hobbs, a second-year student at QUT, majoring in fashion and film. In June/July of 2018, I had the opportunity to go on exchange to Paris, France, and study fashion and business at IESEG School of Management.

The institution I studied at, IESEG School of Management, was in La Défense; the business sector of Paris. We had student residency, only a five-minute walk from the school, and this was shared with other students taking our classes. The residency was fantastic, we each had individual apartments containing a fully equipped kitchenette, bathroom, queen sized bed, TV and wardrobe. In addition to this, we had access to complimentary breakfast, including on the weekends.

Life on campus was incredible; because the program is international and immersive, you connect with amazing people from across the globe. Having these friendships made the course even more so engaging and enriching; not only were you immersed in the Parisian fashion culture but also learning about different international cultures and traditions at the same time.

The program allows you to connect with people from across the globe.

The academic structure was incredibly smooth and well organised, making it easy to follow, but nevertheless, there was a high work ethic and heavy participation expected from each student. The opportunities granted to us students were world class. Not only did we receive tours of major fashion exhibits, but we also got a tour the Ecole Lesage – the company whom work with customers such as Chanel, Marc Jacobs, and thus forth. We got to watch the women hand make the tweed samples for the upcoming SS19 Chanel show; it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The Louvre.

I had the most positive experience at IESEG and was exposed to so much industry practice thanks to this wonderful school; I could not be more fulfilled or happier with how the program was.

As one can imagine, the French capital is vastly different to Brisbane, and Australia in general. It is always important to remain extremely aware in the streets, and personally, I would always advise being with company when venturing away from the student residency and university. It makes it that little bit less stressful having two pairs of eyes and ears and is far more enjoyable in company. Site seeing in the main tourist areas is perfectly safe in your own, however make sure you know the areas you’re in and always take caution.

The streets of Paris.

Nevertheless, Paris is world renowned, and for great reason. During our stay we were able to visit places such as the Louvre museum, the Chateau of Versailles, the Louis Vuitton foundation, endless fashion exhibits (including Dior, Museum of Saint Laurent, Maison Martin Margiela and Hermes, etc.) Paris itself was everything I dreamed and more. Generally, when it comes to ‘experiencing’ Parisian culture and the city, Paris can be very costly. Despite this, Paris can still be enjoyed on a budget. There are a large array of grocery stores and local markets, and due to having a kitchenette, it is easy to cook your own meals, and the difference in price is huge. You will save a lot of money by doing this, but I still recommend doing some research and choosing some amazing spots to eat out; for the atmosphere if nothing else.

Versailles.

The Eiffel Tower.

When it came to the cultural aspects of living in Paris, I wasn’t affected too much by culture shock. As you are surrounded by friends from all over the world, you are all able to communicate on your experiences and go through the journey together. Out of respect for the country, however, it is nice to learn a few French phrases to get you by (even if it is just: ‘desole, parlez-vous anglais?’ Meaning, ‘sorry, do you speak English?’).

After partaking in the IESEG School of Management Fashion Summer Academy, I feel so inspired, motivated and refreshed to start back at QUT, and understand further the amazing career pathways that can be undertaken in my industry. Choosing to partake in the program not only made me more academically inspired, but made me so much for worldly, and confident in being associated in the international fashion industry. I cannot recommend doing this program, and going on exchange in general, enough.

Kassel – A new Journey

Yu Yi Yu, Bachelor of Engineering/IT

Short-term program: Hessen University “Hessen International Summer University – Kassel”

Germany (June/July 2018)

Don’t take this the wrong way, but had I been asked one month ago will I go on exchange, my answer would’ve been – probably not. QUT has awesome facilities, lectures and I was comfortable here with my education and my work. After tonnes of persuasion from mates who had done/were doing exchange, I finally mustered my courage and I suddenly found myself on the opposite side of the world.

Arriving into Frankfurt airport.

Appreciating the scenery in Germany.

Even though it was summer – it was still cold. 17 degrees maybe. This is just the beginning however, after a total of 21 hours on the plane, there was another trip to make – a 3 hour trip to the city of Kassel. But the day gradually warmed up and I started to appreciate the scenery in front of me – The vast fields, the forest and the small towns. It was something totally different.

I arrived at my host family’s house, with the help from the university, and was warmly welcomed by my host father – Christian: someone whom I still keep in contact with even though I’m back in Australia now. The place was tidy and neat and full of surprises – there were even apple and cherry trees!

My host family’s house.

After a lovely lunch with 3 other host students and the host parents, they gave us tips and information about the local area and how to get to the university, which was really helpful during the duration of my stay, and then took us to the local attraction – the Hercules Monument. It was a 10 minute bus ride from our place and the Hercules Monument was absolutely breathtaking. We were able to see the whole city – the photo just doesn’t cut it.

Hercules Monument.

The next day, our host father took all of us (the three other host student and myself) to the university. It was almost like the first day at school – Everyone’s excited yet scared. We met students from all around the world. People from South Africa, Russia, Thailand, USA and more were also attending the program. The campus felt like home – it was small and compact, yet it has everything you need – from a library, to study rooms, to engineering facilities! There is even a canteen where you can get cheap lunch for 2~4 euros!

Campus.

The canteen went a long way throughout the whole trip due to the cheap yet fulfilling meals! The canteen offers 3~4 different options from day to day and it ensures that students are able to have a decent meal a day.

Cheap lunch on campus.

The University provides interactive learning experience and also a lot of extracurricular activities – from trips to Fritzlar (as shown in the photo) to wind farms! One highlight for me was when we drank filtered sewage water from one of the lecturer’s research systems called “PAUL”. Further details can be seen in the video link: https://www.facebook.com/IUKassel/videos/2585629621462512/ 

Also it’s not always about the study – the university provides a lot of extracurricular activities – from hiking to Dornberg, to calisthenics. In addition, there was also tonnes of time during the weekend which made travelling an option. I highly recommend getting the Eurail pass as it allowed me to travel the whole of Europe for a bargain!

Overall, the experience allowed me to explore a whole new area, expanded my network and friendships, and inspired me to look into studying abroad in the future!

Living like a Local in Kassel

Xaythavone Phommachanh, Bachelor of Engineering

Short-term program: Hessen University “Hessen International Summer University – Kassel”

Germany (June/July 2018)

Doing exchange abroad is one of my favourite opportunities that I could do while being in university. On July 2018, I took a journey to Germany to participate in an exchange program called International Summer University (ISU)– Kassel. This was my very first trip to Europe and Germany and I was excited and looking forward to it. Eventually the very first day arriving Germany came, it took some time to travel from the Frankfurt airport to the city of Kassel where the exchange program took place.

The city of Kassel is a small city where everything is pretty much easily accessible by trains, trams or foot, for example, stores, cafes, restaurants, museums, parks and so on. The University of Kassel, main campus, is situated not far north from the city centre. There are many tram stops around the university so it is very convenient to travel to study from the city and also outer suburbs. The main campus is large in terms of area. There are many buildings, namely the library, central canteen, study areas, etc. and my most favourite building of them all is, and I think you know what my choice will be, Zentralmensa or Central Canteen. This is because they serve cheap and good food, but you need to know how the Zentralmensa works so that you will get all the benefits.

Cheap and good food on campus

Throughout the program, I found that it was very well organised, educational and enjoyable. Staff and other participants were very kind, caring, cheerful and friendly. The program offered a German language course and a variety of seminars for participants to choose. Along with all those on-campus components of the program, the participants were also offered off-campus and extracurricular opportunities, for example, field trips in order to improve participant understanding about the chosen seminar topics and movie night or BBQ gathering to maximise the cultural experience of all participants. Furthermore, there are also recreational trips like a trip to Berlin, Fritzlar (a small historic town) and hiking trips, to name a few.

Recreational trip to Berlin

The cultural experience of the trip was maximised through extracurricular activities.

As the time of applying for this ISU program in Kassel, there was one aspect of the program that stood out and interested me to participate, and that was the opportunity to stay with a German family, they were really great at helping out with transitioning to the German culture. By spending time with them, I learned a lot about them and also the things that only the locals know best. I have to admit that I did little research about Germany before actually going on exchange, but because of them, I felt that I did not miss many things that are expected to do in Germany. Fun Fact: they like Tim Tams a lot!

I recommend that everyone join this program.

Overall, the program is so good. I recommend everyone to join this program, International Summer University – Kassel. I am sure that you will have a good time here. 😊

Life in Kassel

Tantika Na Nakhon, Master of Engineering Management

Short-term program: Hessen University “Hessen International Summer University – Kassel”

Germany (June/July 2018)

Hessen International Summer School

My name is Tantika Na Nakhon and I’ve just completed an international summer program at the Universität Kassel (University of Kassel) in Kassel, Germany. It was four-week program and I was studying in the engineering module. I chose environmental engineering and renewable energies and risk management in environmental engineering. The seminars were intensive and lots of excursion. As part of risk management, my class visited Volkswagen, B. Braun Melsungen and Wintershall and we found the risks from the real situations. I would highly recommend enrolling in both courses. Moreover, German class was useful for daily life. There are many activities that you can join such as hiking, movie night, games night and German folk dance.

University Campus

University Campus

University Campus

Life in Germany and Highlights of short term program

Living in Germany was easy. In this program everyone had to stay with host family and it was good to learn their culture and lifestyles. German people were cold at first meeting, but when you get closer to them are friendly and kind. Kassel is located in central Germany. Thus, it would be beneficial to travel to other countries. My favourite trip outside of Germany was to Netherlands with my host family, and within Germany we took a 4 hour drive throughout the country which was also fantastic. The University organised a free trip to Fritzler. It took 35 minutes from Kassel. Fritzler is a small town in the Schwalm-Eder district in northern Hesse. The town has a medieval centre surrounded by a wall with numerous watch towers.

Fritzlar

Netherlands trip with my host family

Overall, I had an awesome experience and I wish I had the chance to do it again. It was good opportunity to explore other countries and I’d encourage every student to consider this program.

Once in a Lifetime Excursions at Hessen University

Jessica Ly, Bachelor of Engineering

Short-term program: Hessen University ‘Hessen International Summer University – Kassel’

Germany (June/July 2018)

My host university was the University of Kassel. It’s located in central Germany between the cities of Frankfurt and Hanover. For the International Summer University (ISU), most of the classes were held in the same building across the road from the main campus. The main facility I used on campus was the Mensa (cafeteria). The food was quite cheap, around 2 to 3 Euros for a meal, and a quick option in between classes.

I was lucky enough to live between the main train station (Wilheimshohe Bahnhof) and the main university campus. This made travel very convenient to and from uni as I had several tram options within the city and also being 5 minutes’ walk away from the regional train station meant that I could easily depart and arrive back at my accommodation on weekend trips. I ended up with a whole flat to myself which was very nice. The building was like ten townhouses joined together and my host mother owned one of the ‘townhouses’. She lived on the ground floor of the building, rented out the second floor and the third floor was where I stayed. In the flat I had a bathroom with a bath tub, toilet and sink; kitchen area with stovetop, oven, fridge, dishwasher and sink; living area furnished; and bedroom with a study area. I really enjoyed living there because it was a cosy space and I could easily go downstairs to see my host mother.

My accommodation.

My schedule for classes was set out really well. We all had German class every morning and either one or two classes after. So most days I had the afternoon off to explore the city or do some activities organised by the ISU team. The World Cup was on during our time there, so I spent a lot of time watching the matches with the other students. The tutorial classes we had for our modules were very helpful for the final exam so it certainly reduced exam stress.

Germany has a very strong focus on research so most of our lectures were based around research conducted by the lecturer with theory combined throughout the lesson. This was not my first time in the country so I did not have much culture shock however one afternoon my friends and I decided to walk through one of the big parks which had the Fulda River running through it. We didn’t know it at the time but several of the areas in the park were zoned for nude swimming. Even though it was a relatively cold day, there were still people who were comfortable in the bare.

Testing out a water filtration system.

I think some of the biggest advantages of this program are the excursions and field activities. As part of the renewable energy course I took, we got to go to a wind farm and inside a windmill. This was definitely a one in a lifetime experience as normally you would not be able to gain that type of access. We also visited Viessmann headquarters which was very cool. The global company specialises in heating systems and manufactures boilers from that factory. Another class we had was taught by a professor who invented a portable water filtration system, initially targeted for emergency situations, but also provides safe drinking water straight from an unclean water source. About 1000 units have been sold to places all around the world.

A once in a lifetime opportunity to go to a windfarm and inside a windmill.