Experience American small-town hospitality; live and study in central Washington

Central Washington University

Location: Ellensburg, Washington State

Why here?: Fun activities available all year round, small American town hospitality and people, small class sizes.

Central Washington University is located just 90 minutes SE from Seattle and spreads over 380 acres of Ellensburg. Ellensburg is perfect for those outdoor explorers with heaps of hiking and biking tracks in the Summer, and some skiing and snowboarding in the Winter. You can enjoy heaps of activities and some of the world’s finest fly-fishing throughout the year, as the area offers great weather. The area also has galleries, museums, bars and pubs to experience. With quaint brick buildings, around 20,000 people and being a stop on the professional rodeo circuit, Ellensburg is a quintessential small American town.

CWU campus in winter

CWU offers a number of distinguished academic programs including music, geology, physics and education. The university offers small class sizes, and with a ratio of 19-to-1, you will be able to make new friends easily, and get to know your professors. The Wildcats, wearing crimson and black, are known for their men’s and women’s rugby teams. Sport is not the only fun activity offered – you can catch a movie, art exhibit, a game or relax in the Japanese Garden.

Go Wildcats!

Take a road trip to Portland over a weekend, or visit Seattle in a break. There are lots of small towns to visit in the nearby area if you want to explore even more of America. If you’re looking for a small town American experience then CWU is the perfect place for you.

Photos from Central Washington University Facebook page.

Experience vibrant city culture and historic architecture in beautiful Scotland

University of Glasgow

Location: The West End, Glasgow, Scotland

Why here?: Ranked in the top 1% of world’s universities, culture, music, entertainment, travel.

The University of Glasgow was founded in 1451 and is ranked in the top 1% of the world’s universities. Scotland offers a world-renowned education system – there are more world-class universities per head of population than anywhere else in the world! The University of Glasgow’s campus is filled with incredible historic architecture, centred on the landmark neo-Gothic Main Building. You can choose from a variety of different study areas, working alongside other British and International students in lectures, practical workshops and tutorials. The International Office offers support and guidance throughout your exchange, and can help out with finding accommodation for your semester (or two!) abroad.

Glasgow loves its music scene, hosting all the artists you want to hear. Located in The West End, the university is perfectly situated if you love boutique coffee places, bars and shops. The area holds several festivals throughout the year, including an International Comedy Festival. Being a student you might be looking for some cheaper entertainment, and Glasgow has you covered. There are plenty of museums, galleries and parks to explore in the area, free of charge. After hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2014, Glasgow is also set with state-of-the-art sporting facilities.

With Glasgow as a base, you’re in an ideal location for exploring the breathtaking scenery and spectacular castles of Scotland. If you’re looking to get out Glasgow for a weekend, Edinburgh is about a 1 hour drive, and the English border only 2 hours away. You can even fly to London in only 4 hours! You can also explore national parks and the Clyde Coast just outside of the city.

Photos from University of Glasgow Facebook page.

Easter break… already?

Wow… it feels like yesterday that I was boarding a plane to England, and now I am already on Easter break, and well and truly over half way through my exchange experience… where has the time gone?

Now seems a good as time as any to reflect on the 5 best moments so far…

  1. Flat roast dinner: my flatmates and I successfully cooked a whole Sunday roast fit for the Christmas table. It was the first time I truly felt like I had a place here in Leeds, and looking around, I felt like I had truly made some life long friends.
  2. Karaoke: on Tuesday’s a local restaurant called Bierkeller has karaoke. All I can say is that my first night out back in Brisbane has a lot to live up to. Nothing quite beats belting out “Somebody to love” with a stein of cider in your hand…
  3. Trip to Dublin: well… I went to Ireland and it was great!
  4. Cornish Pasty eating: this is inclusive of every time I have eaten a Cornish pasty whilst I’ve been in England (and that has been more than once ;P). I don’t know what it is about them, but every two days I get a craving and only ever so often do I make the decision to NOT take a walk to The Kirkgate Market to buy one
  5. Surviving: basic survival is incredibly rewarding whilst on exchange. Not only have I mastered the art of washing and grocery shopping, but I am also in training as the next MasterChef!

As you can see sometimes it is the little things and the people that make your time whilst on exchange. To those thinking about going on exchange I would not only urge you to do it, but to remember whilst you are on exchange to take a moment to appreciate the subtle beauty of the little things.

So now that it is holiday time, as an exchange student that can only mean one thing… TRAVEL. My mum is meeting me in London before we embark in a road trip around the UK. I will be sure to update you with my comprehensive review of all the sites in a few weeks’ time, so stay tuned!

Modern but classic – best of both worlds in central Scandinavia!

Malmö University

Location: Malmö, Sweden

Why here?: 7th happiest place to live in Europe, bikes, Scandi lifestyle, food and culture.

Malmö was voted the seventh happiest place to live in Europe in 2016, and has been nominated as the sixth most bicycle-friendly city in the world.  It is Sweden’s third largest city, where modern and dynamic meets classic and traditional.

Malmö is a very bike-friendly city

The International Office offers students a lot of help during the first few weeks of your exchange semester or year. You can study Swedish language in an intensive three week course, and international students are offered the possibility to study Swedish Language, Culture and Society during their first semester abroad. A large number of courses at a bachelor level are taught in English, so you don’t need an expert knowledge of Swedish before you go!  There is also on-campus housing!

On-campus housing means you’re never far from the action

Malmö is connected to mainland Europe and is only 35 minutes away from the Danish capital of Copenhagen.  The city is filled with green spaces and canal streams, and with a short walk you’ll find Malmö’s sandy beach Ribersborg. With more than 300,000 residents from 160 different nations, you’ll be sure to fit in. The city is also known for its café culture, bars, restaurants, music venues, theatres and clubs.

Malmö is two and half hours away by train from Gothenburg, an hour plane journey from Stockholm and Oslo – if you’re passionate about living and studying in Scandinavia, Malmö is the place for you!

Photos from Malmö website and social media.

London calling!

City, University of London

Location: Central London, United Kingdom.

Why here?: London…one word captures it all. Explore endless art galleries and museums, attend a football match, experience concerts from world-class acts, or catch the Eurostar to Paris!

Iconic view of the city

From leading Premier League football teams to museums to art galleries, from cityscapes to green spaces, London is a city for anyone and everyone. City, University of London is located in the heart of one of the world’s most vibrant cities. The campus is in the Islington, an area of central London known for its great cafes, bars and restaurants, theatre and, art venues. It’s always within easy reach of transport, London’s financial district and global corporations’ headquarters.

London is the gateway for the EU and the rest of the UK. Catch the Eurostar to Paris for a weekend, or snag a cheap flight to Prague to experience a number of different cultures during your exchange. Make your way through the dreamy, beautiful Cotswolds during downtime, or experience the vibrant, exciting cities the UK has to offer, including Liverpool, Brighton, Newcastle upon Tyne, or even Edinburgh!

You can study a number of different programs including business, creative industries, journalism and psychology. The university offers a variety of accommodation options and support services for undergraduate students. City, University of London also offers a number of sporting activities and clubs and societies for international students to join, in order to meet fellow students and make friends with like-minded people.

Photos from CUL Facebook and Wikipedia Creative Commons

Country music and ice hockey in beautiful Calgary

University of Calgary

Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Why here?: Close to mountains, beautiful and safe city, great vibe, hockey, country music!

U of C is the second best young university in the world! They are renowned for their high quality research and for playing host to the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics (Jamaica we have a bob sled team/Eddie the Eagle…). The main campus, easily accessible by train or bus, includes a world class ice rink, gym, and three main residential buildings for exchange students. Cascade Hall is where most exchange students reside, but Aurora and Yamnuska are also great options for immersing yourself in the U of C culture with Canadian students (I chose Yam).

QUT student Emma enjoying the snow

Speaking from experience, the application process for accommodation and subject selection is quite easy and straight-forward, and the staff are incredibly helpful if you have trouble. Best of all, most other activities and services (such as bus and train fares, and the gym) are included in your application process! This means you will know exactly how much spending money you can put towards travel, food and night life.

Getting into the spirit of things!

With local hockey (go Flames!) and football teams (go Stamps!) and with the U of C Dinos teams, Calgary offers plenty of opportunities to experience the sports Canadians love. Calgary is also the home to the famous Stampede, so expect two-stepping and line dancing at midnight in the country bars around town.

Close to the mountains, an easy trip to go skiing

Study in the heart of Germany

University of Stuttgart

Location: Southern Germany

Why Stuttgart? Southern German hospitality, food, travel opportunities and cars!

The University of Stuttgart is one of the leading technology-oriented universities in Germany, and is located in a region known for its economic strength, cultural integration and innovation. Every semester the University of Stuttgart welcomes exchange students from all over the world. Most courses at the University of Stuttgart are taught in German, however if you’ve previously studied German you can develop your language skills further during your semester aboard! Stuttgart also offer some great language programs that you can undertake during the semester break (for more information, see the QUT Global Portal).  

Stuttgart is located an hour from the picturesque Black Forest, and is the sixth largest city in Germany. The city is known for its beautiful architecture, old castles and churches and vibrant cultural life, and the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche museums. Stuttgart is situated closely to a number of famous German cities and towns, including picturesque Heidelberg (two hours by train), beer central Munich (two and a half hours by train) and Nuremberg (two and a bit hours by train).

International students are welcomed and looked after by employees from the International Office, and students are able to join the ‘Buddy Program ready, steady, study’. The program offers help for new international students, as well welcome events and activities throughout the semester.

QUT student Gemma and friends on the Stuttgart Winter exchange program.

Come and meet representatives from the University of Stuttgart at the QUT Exchange Fair!

 

Follow in the footsteps of the Beatles… live and study in Liverpool!

University of Liverpool

Location: Liverpool, England

Why Liverpool? Student-friendly city, long history, cost-effective, football, and a rich arts and music scene.

Founded in 1881, The University of Liverpool boasts massive red brick buildings and a long, diverse history, while also being innovative and modern. The university is a leading research institution in the UK.

The University has two on-campus buildings, Melville Grove and Tudor Close, which offer apartment-style accommodation for international and study abroad students. If you wish to live off-campus, given its high student population, Liverpool offers a massive amount of accommodation and a student-tailored lifestyle. The University recommends budgeting around $4000-$5500 (AUD) for a semester, and given its proximity to other European countries, most students will want to budget some more for further travels!

There are plenty of amenities on campus including a fitness centre and sports fields, as well as heaps of things to do off-campus. The city has a great passion for music, art and culture, and plays host to a number of events each year. While you’re here catch a football (soccer) game, or two, at Anfield or Goodison Park.

Meet staff from the University of Liverpool at the QUT Exchange Fair!

 

Interning with Kyoto Journal

In the second semester of 2016 I was afforded the opportunity to study abroad at Ritsumeikan University, Osaka, Japan. During that time, I also undertook an internship with Japan’s longest-running independent English publication, Kyoto Journal.

Initially focusing on Japan, specifically the ancient capital of Kyoto, the quarterly magazine has broadened over the past thirty years to include insights and perspectives from all of Asia. The publication is run and produced by an incredibly talented and committed team of volunteers based locally, nationally, and internationally.

I discovered Kyoto Journal while searching for articles about Japan, trying to do some ‘pre-reading’ before I arrived in a new country. I loved the style of the magazine and was interested in the articles and the volunteer nature of the publication, so I emailed them to see how I could get involved. If you’re on exchange (or even if you haven’t left yet) and you find an organisation that you’re really interested in – reach out to them! You never know what might happen.

My role as an intern varied quite a lot. I did research, collaborated with other volunteers to build information databases, participated in brainstorming for new projects and PR, interviewed a local apprentice artisan, provided feedback on a crowdfunding campaign, and helped to prepare for an upcoming photography exhibition. Kyoto Journal does not have a designated office space, so work was done and meetings were held in coffee shops, public spaces and at Impact Hub Kyoto, a co-working space to which Kyoto Journal has a membership. I enjoyed this transient and collaborative approach to working, which also allowed me to see parts of Kyoto that I would not have otherwise encountered.

Impact Hub Kyoto (L) and working at the Rohm Theatre in Kyoto (R).

The volunteer nature of the work meant that the entirety of the Kyoto Journal team that I met, whether online or face-to-face, were very committed to and excited by what they were doing. Being a volunteer also allowed for a great deal of flexibility – I was based in Osaka and studying full-time, so it was understood if I could not make it to Kyoto on short notice. Everyone else has jobs, families and other commitments as well, which makes for a dynamic and engaged team – volunteers who have made time in their lives to be involved. Everyone wants to be there and bring their best to the job.

As far as I know, this flexibility and work-life balance is atypical of jobs in Japan, but I would assume that this comes down to the fact that involvement with the editorial side of Kyoto Journal is entirely volunteer-based.

Despite my short stay, lasting only a few months, I was made to feel very welcome and valued. It was incredibly rewarding to work with such a passionate, talented, diverse group of people and I’m very grateful to the Kyoto Journal team for allowing me to be involved with this unique publication. I’m looking forward to being involved in their Kyoto photography exhibition when I return to Japan in April!

(from L to R) Elise, Hirisha Mehta (Head of Design), John Einarsen (Founding Editor) and Ken Rodgers (Managing Editor) study an early edition of Kyoto Journal.

 

Touch Down in Singapore!

Well it has officially been three weeks since I touched down in Singapore! Let me quickly tell you just a bit about myself. The names Dana, I am an avid netball and sports fan, action/comedy movie enthusiast, aspiring traveller and dog lover. I am doing a BS08 Bachelor of Business – International degree with economics major, and am currently 3 weeks into a 15 month adventure in SG! Yes. 15 MONTHS! I was fortunate enough to have been awarded a New Colombo Plan (NCP) scholarship to work and study in Singapore this year. My program (at the moment) starts with a 6 month internship at PwC Singapore working in their Growth Markets Centre, followed by two semesters of study at Nanyang Technological University.

Strangely enough, I almost feel at home here in Singapore. Adapting to the different country and culture came a lot more naturally then I had anticipated and thankfully this has made for a relatively smooth start to my exchange. Transport here is unfaultable so I am finding my way around easily and food is never hard to locate (or afford if you are at a hawker centre!). The local Chinese family I am bunking with are wonderful and welcoming, and I think they have made leaving my family for the first time much less difficult. My accommodation itself certainly met expectations and is well located in a traditional and local area not too far from the city. Even adapting into the professional workforce for the first time hasn’t been too rough, although my back and neck are protesting a desk life.

Nevertheless, not everything about this exchange has been easy. I’m going to be honest with you – I’m the baby of the family, I’m overprotected, I haven’t travelled much and I have a very strong and close relationship with my family and 4 month old puppy…

Leaving wasn’t easy – it never is.

Saying goodbye to loved ones was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. Even just thinking about hugging my puppy for the last time, and waving goodbye to my family as I walked to the airport gate brings tears to my eyes. It’s hard to grasp that you will be leaving for so long, but when you do it is one of the most nerve wracking and sickening feelings.

Rolling on from having to say goodbye – day one was the worst. A 2am flight with a busy day full of visas and bank accounts probably didn’t help, but day one, for me at least, was when everything sunk in. All I did that day was cry. I’ve never felt so lost and alone in my life. I felt isolated and out of my depth.

I made it to perhaps 3pm before I threw myself onto my bed, called my mum and bawled. And that was all I needed. I just needed someone to talk to, to cry to, and to tell me everything was going to be ok. That I had the experience and opportunity of a lifetime ahead of me. That this is what I wanted and I was going to do great. The call lasted an hour, but it fixed everything, and when I woke up the next day I was ready. It was as if day 1 never happened. I felt at home, I felt adventurous, I felt safe, calm and ready to explore. So I did – all weekend, to get used to my new home. Now, 3 weeks in and I haven’t had a bad day again.

There is no denying that shock will hit you. For me it was day 1; for you, it might be a week or even a month in. It will hit, and it will hurt, it will be tough, and you will doubt yourself and want to go home. My advice is to take it as it is. Moving overseas is a new and intense experience, it can’t be flawless. Expect to have bad days, because you will. Just make sure you have someone to call, to tell you everything is ok. That’s all you really need to hear. You realise home, familiarity, normal, is just a phone call away. It’s not as far as you think.

If you are worried about going on exchange – don’t be. Yes, there will be tough times, but I assure you the good times will outweigh the bad a million times over! Going overseas is such an incredible experience and in the technological and integrated world we live in today – home is never far away. Plus, there are so many people who can help you along the way, the QUT international student mobility officers, present and previous exchange students, friends and family – you are never truly alone, there will always be someone to back you.

That’s all from me (for now), but please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding exchange, Singapore, internships, the New Colombo Plan – anything! I’m happy to help! If you’re interested in Singapore or Asia in general, check out my Instagram downunderdana – I am challenging myself to post a different photo every day I am away, so over the 15 months… there’s going to be a lot.