Everlasting Memories Made at Cambridge

Sabrina Catania, Bachelor of Science

Short-term program: AIM Overseas ‘Cambridge Sciences Summer Program’

England (July 2018)

Life on campus was in itself an amazing experience. All the academics, although kind of intimidating to approach because of how intelligent they were, were so nice and ready to answer any of your questions. This programme brought people from all different organisations to give lectures such as the Gurdon institute and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) which was a major highlight for me. I was unbelievably lucky to be able to visit the BAS twice while I was at Cambridge and has completely influenced my future plans to work overseas.

British Antarctic Survey (BAS)

Queens College.

Making friends from all over the world.

I stayed on campus at Queens’ College where I was in a single Ensuite room. Breakfast and dinner were also provided for me, which was held in dining halls within Queens’. Breakfast was held buffet style which was amazing! Hash browns, bacon, fresh fruit every morning! There was also a different dinner every night with spectacular desserts to end the night with.  I did have to scout around for my own lunch every day, which I was actually happy about as it gave me the chance to taste test food from all over the city.

The view from my room.

Travelling from Heathrow Airport to Cambridge University was a massive culture shock for me. It definitely made me feel out of depth and overwhelmed. I think this was more to do with this trip being my first time travelling alone and to such a far place from home. Luckily, I made friends at the airports on both my trips from and to Australia. I think having an open mind and being open to the idea of meeting new people adds a lot to your experience overseas. However, once I reached Cambridge, everything kind of fell into place and it was so easy to fall in love with the city. England isn’t too different from Australia, so the cultural aspects weren’t much of a shock for me, however not hearing your normal Aussie accent everywhere was a bit weird.

Here I got to go on a beautiful Punting tour that takes you through the heart of Cambridge University along River Cam.

Here I got to go on a beautiful Punting tour that takes you through the heart of Cambridge University along River Cam.

King’s College Chapel, Cambridge

What was also great about this short-term trip was the amazing people that also were attending the same programme as me. So, although there were people from all over the world, I still got to meet so many people from Australia. It was this group of girls that made me feel at home in this foreign country and we are even now planning a trip to meet up. I also became friends with people from America, Pakistan, Hungary and so many other places. So, I think a main highlight of my trip was the friends I made and the everlasting memories that they helped me create.

The famous Mathematical Bridge which is luckily enough located in Queens’ College.

Charles Darwin statue at Christ College, Cambridge.

I think it should most definitely be noted however, how beautiful Cambridge actually is!

A Short Summer Spent Studying at Cambridge

Laura Spenceley, Bachelor of Science/Laws

Short-term program: AIM Overseas ‘Cambridge Sciences Summer Program’

England (July 2018)

Not long after my semester one exams this year, I headed to the United Kingdom for a 2-week short-term exchange program at Cambridge University. This program not only met but exceeded every expectation I had – including the surprisingly very hot English Summer.

Life in Cambridge and England

Prior to the program beginning on Sunday the 8th of July, I flew to London (Stansted) and arrived in Cambridge on Friday afternoon. I then had two (very hot) days to explore a beautiful city and get to know the university and some of its colleges prior to my program.

Arriving at Selwyn college

As a student city, Cambridge is very accessible and easy to get around. It was a short half-hour train journey from the Stansted airport, but once you are in Cambridge it is very easy to navigate on foot. Most students and residents of Cambridge prefer cycling as a mode of transport. Considering that the city of Cambridge is mostly comprised of the University itself, Wi-Fi is easily accessible everywhere you go. This was definitely a bonus while travelling and made getting around quite easy.

Arriving at Selwyn college

After 2 weeks at Cambridge, I spent a few days in London and the rest of the week travelling around France to make the most of my trip to the other side of the world – which was quite a relaxing end to a whole lot of learning at the University.

The Summer Program

One of the program highlights would have to be the experience of life at a Cambridge college. While in Australia most students live at home and commute to uni, at a University almost 200 years older than QUT with 31 historical colleges to choose from, students live on campus during term time and either walk or cycle to classes. At Selwyn College, I stayed in a private room which overlooked Old Court and the dining Hall where we had meals each morning and night. This was a quick 5-minute walk to the where all of the Summer courses teaching was held at Sidgwick site (next-door).

The view of Old Court from my accommodation in a college room.

The academic program was run over the course of 2 weeks, with 4 science lectures per day between 9am and 9pm. During these hours, we had morning plenary (core) lectures and evening talks which were each run by a different Cambridge lecturer or subject specialist, as well as 2 elected courses per week. I am glad these gave me the opportunity to study things I probably wouldn’t study at home as part of my science degree, such as learning about Polar Research and Autism Research based in Cambridge. Evening talks included topics such as a mathematician on the Enigma Machine, and the engineering behind the ‘Dambusters’ bouncing bomb during World War 2.

Cambridge University Museum of Zoology.

The University Library

Outside of the classroom, my chosen courses involved two visits to the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, the University museums (Museum of Zoology, Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, and Fitzwilliam Museum). The Summer Program also included a piano recital one night in St. John’s College, a reception for the 95th anniversary of the Program at the beautiful Queens’ College and went on a traditional ‘punt’ on the River Cam over the weekend with some of the other students I met on the course. Our final night as Cambridge students was marked by a formal closing dinner in the dining hall, with the presentation of certificates.

Dining Hall at Selwyn College

Finishing the course.

Two Weeks in Amsterdam

Christopher Atkins, Bachelor of Design

Short-term program: Amsterdam Uni of Applies Sciences “Amsterdam Summer School”

Netherlands (July 2018)

I completed a 2 week summer course in Amsterdam, Netherlands at Amsterdam University of Applied Science. The course was called “Urban Scan” and was aimed at looking into what makes Amsterdam, Amsterdam. How the city was built and how it has changed over time. I found this a helpful course as I am studying Landscape Architecture and some aspects were quite informative.

The other students in my class were from all different disciplines and the course could be taken by anyone from any discipline. The other students were great and I met people from all over the world. We shared many afternoons socialising after class in Amsterdam. The University is close to the city so it was easy to access. The accommodation however, I wouldn’t recommend. I got the accommodation through the Uni and it was a 4 bedroom shared unit with other Dutch students. The place was a mess and some of the house mates had left for home for their Summer. The bathroom clogged and water was everywhere through the unit. The internet was never working and the area was far from the city and didn’t feel too safe at night. I would recommend finding alternate accommodation in or closer to the city/University instead.

Amsterdam city, canals.

 The country itself was amazing, I had been to the Netherlands before so I knew what I was getting into. The locals in Amsterdam all speak perfect English so it is easy to get around. The city itself is a maze! All the streets blend into one and are very similar, with canals everywhere, it’s all part of the fun of Amsterdam I guess. It’s a lot easier if you can get a bike to ride around with, the city is fairly small so if you have a bike you can’t anywhere within 15/20min. The sun is also up till 11PM at night so there is plenty of time to explore the city after class finishes at 5PM.

Amsterdam city, canals.

 The highlight of my trip was probably the bike ride we did with our class. It was a 2 hour trip North of Amsterdam but it went through the countryside, past windmills and old farm houses. We arrived at a lighthouse and had lunch then made our way back to Amsterdam. The whole course was really fun and the teacher was amazing. Most days we’d stop in the afternoon for a drink and some Dutch cheese somewhere in the city, with our teacher explaining Dutch culture and everyone else trading stories from their home country. I really learnt a lot not just about Amsterdam but other parts of the world through my class mates.

View from the bike ride hours North of Amsterdam.

I would highly advise taking this summer course. It was fun, informative, exciting, eye opening and I made new friends. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough…. Just book your own accommodation.

A Guide to Life at Aarsus University

Mathew Verwater, Bachelor of Business/laws

Short-term program: “Experience Summer at Aarhus University”

Denmark (July/August 2018)

Host University

  1. Academics

Aarhus University similarities with QUT:

–          Summer course classes are similar to workshops (where lectures and tutorials are combined into one class and where the lecturer asks students question and discusses the topic and thoughts on news relating to a topic),

–          Summer courses required students (in law) to read the articles and textbook readings,

–          No mandatory class attendance

Aarhus University differences with QUT:

–          Classes are not recorded and thus, not attending lectures is disadvantageous as some important information id discussed in the subject,

–          Students are required to complete out-of-class work (I completed 3 or 4 different out-of-class work throughout the course)

Attending the summer course classes at Aarhus University, I think, felt very similar to high school classes as the lecturer would ask the students questions and to discuss a topic and thoughts on news

  1. Accommodation

When I was in Denmark, I stayed in the Snogebæksvej dormitory. The dormitory, I think, is like most Australian dormitories.

List of facilities in the Snogebæksvej dormitory:

–          It had a communal kitchen (residents were expected to prepare their own meals),

–          Kitchen, you share your mini fridge with one other person, thus, if you cook a lot it may be difficult to fit both your food and the other’s

–          14 rooms per floor (two floors),

–          Toilet, shower and bedroom with two tables, one cupboard, a desk lamp, and bed (without sheets, blankets, and pillow protector.

–          There was also an apple tree outside the kitchen, so you can get apples for free.

  1. Life on Campus

Aarhus University is a very large university and has buildings located throughout Aarhus. Similar to QUT giving each building a letter, each building at Aarhus University is numbered (for example, mine was number 1451). Each building has about three floors and access to the roof. Classes were three to four times a week (from 9am – 1pm) Each campus, unlike QUT, has its own self-serve cafeteria serving breakfast and lunch. Similar to a buffet. Each plate of food costs approximately $8 and coffee costs approximately $5.50. Once, during each summer semester, the university hands out ice cream to everyone at the university. Life on the campus is similar to life at QUT. So, it’s not that different from what you usually would do at QUT.

It is a large university with buildings throughout Aarhus.

A beautiful Country

Host Country

Denmark is a beautiful country, Aarhus is similar to Brisbane in terms of a mix between nature and city. There are a lot more brick houses and apartments compared to Brisbane. Aarhus also has a lot of places to visit such as the deer park, Moesgaard museum, and the beach. Also, everyone besides senior citizens can speak English so it’s very easy to get around or buy things. However, I do warn that Denmark is quite expensive, so make sure you bring a lot of cash.

There are a lot more brick houses in Aarhus compared to Brisbane.

Aarhus has a lot of places to visit, but it is quite expensive.

Highlights

Visiting Copenhagen and the Viking moot were definitely the highlights of the trip. Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and has many beautiful sights and places to visit, such as Nyhavn, the Opera House, Christiansborg Palace, and the National Museum of Denmark. The Viking moot was an amazing social program. The Viking moot consisted of watching re-enactments of battles and horse riding. There was also a lot of cool things to buy for friends and yourself at the Viking moot.

Nyhavn in Copenhagen.

A Dream Experience in Denmark

Ellie Lawler, Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology)/Social Work

Short-term program: “Experience Summer at Aarhus University”

Denmark (July 2018)

For my short study program, I chose to study at Aarhus University in Denmark. Studying abroad has been on my bucket list for years, but I always thought I’d never be able to do it. Then, I found out about the short study programs that QUT offered. I didn’t even think about it, I instantly told my parents I was going to study overseas and began searching for which country I would go to. Not long after I began my search, I found the AU summer program at Aarhus University in Denmark.

The beautiful city of Aarhus. The view from the ARoS museum.

 

View of Aarhus from the Tivoli Friheden.

 

I studied an intensive class about youth, alcohol and drugs. At QUT, I study psychology and social work, so this subject fit in nicely with my degree’s units.  I had so many expectations in my mind about what the class would be and it beat them all. My class consisted of around 30 students from all different countries. There were at least 10 different nationalities in the classroom. The different cultures made the subjects content even better. Everyone had their own experiences and laws regarding alcohol and drug use in their universities. The atmosphere was open and people weren’t afraid to share their thoughts.  Nearly every day, we had a new guest lecturer come in and present us with new information. Of course, the methods were quite different from QUT so I had to adjust a lot but I appreciated seeing new learning techniques.

A Danish norm… riding bikes everywhere

The array of perspectives was probably the most interesting part of the class. There was never a boring day.  As a short program, the work load could sometimes be intense. Luckily, the staff and other students were supportive and I got through it all.  During my study, I stayed in a University run apartment building near the beautiful harbour of Aarhus. It was a modern building, equipped with everything I needed. The campus had one of Denmark’s biggest libraries, so there was never a lack of study materials. And when studying got too hard, us students just went to play games (like foosball or ping pong) or even do some boxing in the libraries chill out level. Great idea for QUT hey?…

Aarhus university buildings – One of Denmark’s largest library’s, 8 stories.

The summer staff at Aarhus University were amazing. They had created the best social program for everyone enrolled in summer uni. This included events like concerts, day trips to theme parks, food nights and so much more. Basically, anything there was to do in Aarhus, we did it. And there was a lot to do. My favourite day by far was my final day in Aarhus… the Viking Moot! Who wouldn’t love to pretend to be Vikings right? I rode Icelandic horses, shopped in the old-fashioned markets, took some turns at archery and got to witness the ‘Vikings’ battle. And of course, at the end of the day, I had my daily dose of education…. A trip to the history museum.

A shot of the ‘Vikings’ practising for battle during Aarhus’s 2018 Viking Moot.

 Through my class and the social activities, I made so many friends from different countries. I was fortunate enough to have a great group of friends over there. We attended the social programs together, cooked together and tried to figure out the language together. We even travelled to some more of Europe together on our days off. In total, I travelled to four other countries during my holiday (I mean ‘study experience’…). I went to Germany, Sweden, Hungary and Czech Republic. Being in Europe was great. Instead of an hour taking me from Brisbane to the Gold Coast, it could take me to a whole new country. The cultures that I experienced on my travels were so interesting, I tried to immerse myself into every new experience. This mostly means that I ate a lot of food, but also that I became the biggest cliché tourist.

A Danish picnic to celebrate my birthday

Denmark can be a pricey country, but studying abroad is a once in a life time opportunity so I never limited myself to experiencing things. The University made it all as cheap as possible for the students. This included cheap rent and great student deals. Overall, my experience in Denmark was a dream. Aarhus University was an amazing host University and I got to experience so many things. I only wish that it was longer. I know that I’ll be travelling back to Denmark for a reunion one day.

Nyhavn, Copenhagen.

A Summer Spent in the City of Smiles

Madison Brittain, Bachelor of Creative Industries

Short-term program: “Experience Summer at Aarhus University”

Denmark (July 2018)

During July 2018, I participated in a summer semester at Aarhus University in Denmark. Where I studied Social Marketing as an intensive 2-week course. Aarhus is the largest and second oldest university in Denmark, the city is known for its young demographic and happy people. Aarhus, also known as Smilets (City of Smiles), was voted as the European Capital of Culture for 2017 where it’s legacy still lives on.

Aarhus University is a very dispersed university, with many of the classrooms and faculties spread across the city. Many of the buildings are architecturally different from what we see at QUT, the university’s design has followed the same principle since the 1930’s of characteristic yellow-brick buildings. The university is internationally renowned for this design and has received cultural excellence awards for it. The university also boasts the tallest library in all of Denmark!

University buildings displaying the yellow-brick characteristics.

The University boasts the tallest library in Denmark.

My accommodation was on campus and only a five-minute walk from classes. The accommodation was dorm-room style with a bed, night stand, wardrobe, desk, chair, sink and mirror all provided. The kitchen and bathroom were shared with 9 other full-time study students, but they had plenty of facilities so waiting was never an issue.

I was enrolled in a course called Social Marketing where I attended class for 3 hours a day for 2 weeks straight; with 2 assignments and 1 exam as my assessment. The subject was broad but gave an insight into all the workings of social marketing. The class was made up of both local and international students which helped to give a world perspective on ways in which social marketing is used in different countries. The classes are very informal, with students and teachers being of equal ground.

An art installation of a cat pouring water into a bowl on the grounds of the university.

The university offered an amazing social program including activities like canoeing, visit’s to the Old Town, ARoS museum (which is a must), and many more activities. While I was there, the World Cup was being played out in Russia and the local community set up a massive screen by the water front for the locals to come down and watch the games. It was a great atmosphere and a great way to end the day (even If the sun didn’t set until 11pm some days).

Part of the rainbow 360 art feature at the ARoS museum.

A glimpse of the houses along the banks of the river from the canoeing trip.

The cost of living in Denmark is very similar to Australia, with drink and food prices on a similar budget. Some super-markets charge more than what you would find in Coles or Woolworths, but with the variety of supermarkets they offer, it is easy to find a cheaper price. Public transport in Aarhus is quite expensive to, as the Danes are very much a bike culture. Bikes are easy to rent out around Aarhus and a great form of exercise. Taxis are ridiculously expensive in Denmark and cost you approximately $20 to go 750m.

Danes are the nicest people around and are always willing to help you; they aren’t loud or rowdy, they do not litter or act out in public. Aarhus is an incredibly beautiful, small city with friendly locals who can all speak English amazingly. I’m grateful for my time their and would highly recommend it to anyone!

Experiencing the Culture and History of Denmark at Aarhus University

Taylah De Wit, Bachelor of Science/Laws

Short-term program: Experience Summer at Aarhus University

Denmark (July 2018)

My short-term exchange program was hosted by Aarhus University in Denmark. The campus was absolutely stunning and it had an amazing ambience. It had so many study and social places as well as beautiful gardens and was steeped in culture and history. Life on campus was quiet as it was during the summer semester for Danish students, however there were still some locals who participated in the summer courses and heaps of international students. The summer university program promoted and organised a lot of social events and opportunities for everyone to meet and socialise.

The highlight of the program was meeting people from all around the world.

In terms of the academics of the university, I really enjoyed the teaching style. For me, I had class everyday during the week for three hours. I studied Animal Law – which was the first class of its kind in Scandinavia.  It was an intensive 3-week course that created a very in-depth understanding and I had multiple guest lecturers from all around the world. This included academics from Scotland, Barcelona, the United States, Denmark, and Ireland. This created a more global perspective on the topic and created amazing networking opportunities.

In regards to the accommodation, I stayed in student housing which was located on the smaller campus of the university. The accommodation was nice and my room set-up was just a bed, wardrobe, and sink. I had to share a kitchen and bathroom with other students, which meant I got to know a lot of the local Aarhus University students.  I would really recommend student housing as it was a really fun vibe and experience.

The campus was absolutely stunning!

Aarhus is a beautiful seaside city and I absolutely loved my time there. Everything was in walking distance and all of the locals were so lovely. Everyone speaks English in Denmark so it is very easy to find your way. There is plenty to see and do but also it is a very nice place to just relax. The living expenses were similar to Australia, except for eating out at restaurants, which was quite expensive. So I would definitely recommend cooking for yourself!

The highlight of my short-term program would definitely be meeting people from all around the world. I also really enjoyed visiting the beaches, the deer park and the ARos Art Museum – the rainbow panorama skywalk was insane. If you get the opportunity I would definitely recommend going on a short-term exchange to Aarhus University.

Month 1 – Done and Dusted!

Even though I’ve hit my one month mark, I still struggle to believe I’m living in what has got to be one of the world’s most incredible cities. I feel as though my life has been flipped upside down a little, and in the midst of the excitement I’m sadly realizing my time here is going to absolutely fly by. In saying that, my settling-in experience hasn’t been totally flawless, so for those considering jetting-off to Shanghai Jiao Tong, I hope the information contained in this blog update ensures your transition is a little smoother than mine.

 

First point I want to make, all those stories you hear of pollution being terrible here? They’re not exaggerating. Initially, it will almost feel like you’re walking through a physical substance, and participating in any sort of sporting activity will leave you out of breath way faster than normal. The ever-present cigarette smoke doesn’t help much either. Secondly, before arriving I was always told how Shanghai is the Chinese city where East meets West. Traditional Chinese-style houses neighbor with those of a more classical French-style, and it’s just as easy to find a crepe as it is a dumpling. Whilst there is definitely some truth in this, the largest misconception I gained from these tales was that English was pretty commonly spoken across the city. This is definitely NOT the case, so if you’re arriving with little-to-no Mandarin skills, download Duolingo and brush up on those key phrases. You’ll need them. If nothing else, my pro-tip would to be print out your arrival address in Chinese to give to your driver. They will really appreciate it, and it’ll make your life just that bit easier.

 

On the topic of transport, taxi’s here are SUPER cheap, as is the metro. You’ll definitely benefit from a metro card so make that a number one priority when you arrive. The metro system here is also really easy to navigate, so don’t worry about getting lost. However, be warned that trains here, like Brisbane, don’t run all night. So, on those nights when you’re exploring the cities unbelievably amazing nightlife (make Bar Rouge your first stop!), and want to head home before 6am, take a MARKED taxi. Unmarked taxis are a massive scam here so be vigilant. Also, never catch a taxi from directly outside a club or bar. They’re generally about 4 times the price, so it’s worth your while to walk five minutes down the road. Another important note for when you’re out and about, always always always have a copy of your passport/visa on you. Whether it be a photo on your phone, a print out of a scan or the real thing (which I don’t recommend as pickpocketing is an issue here). Police officers here have the right to ask to see a copy at any time and any place. Refusal or inability to give them anything they ask may land you in hot water. To quote our security officer, ‘don’t use things like human rights as an excuse!’. You also need it to do things like travelling domestically, booking a hostel room in addition to orientation or registration at your university.

When you do begin university life, there will be an absolute stack of admin to do. My advice would be to write a list, and get it done as soon as possible. First things first, set up a WeChat account – you honestly can’t live here without it. You use it to pay vendors, shop online, contact tutors, be informed about class info etc. For that last one, WeChat basically takes the place of Blackboard, so it is really important. When you set up your banking, get to the bank early unless you want to spend 3 hours sitting in their lobby (you don’t). Don’t forget your TFN either! When you get a sim card, I recommend China Unicom. You get unlimited data for a very reasonable price, and it’s a reliable network country-wide. If you’re studying/living in the Xuhui campus, there’s a Unicom and BOC branch right outside one the main gates, so it’s pretty convenient. Speaking of, if you’re torn between living on Minhang or Xuhui, I would highly recommend Xuhui. Not only is Minhang really far away from downtown Shanghai, but because it’s so big it has become its own little city. What I’ve heard from people who live there, is that this means you become rather reluctant to leave and explore because everything you want is around you, and you end up missing out on all Shanghai has to offer. There is a shuttle bus that runs between the two, but it’s still a hassle. So, unless the majority of your classes are taught there, I would say book in Xuhui. Side note, if you do book in Xuhui, your options are; Lianxing building and Tao Li Yuan. The former is an older building, and only the rooms on the top level have been renovated. The latter is new, and all the rooms are much more modern. I’m stuck on Lianxing level one which isn’t that nice, but I’m only here for one semester so I’m willing to put up with it. It was also, like everything in this country, so incredibly cheap that it’s not really worth complaining about.

 

Last but not least, if you are here on an X2 visa (one semester), you cannot obtain a Residence Permit visa. This is contrary to what I had been told, so it was a bit of a disappointment. You can add one more entry to your visa if you want, but that’s it. Just a word of warning!

 

Well that wraps up my post for month one! If you have any specific dorm orientated questions don’t hesitate to ask because I found very little information myself when I was looking. Until next time!

Dormitory Life in Japan

久しぶり(hisashiburi). Or in English, it’s been a while.
Semester one is long over and somehow, today Semester 2 officially begins of my study abroad here in Tokyo, Japan. It is hard to believe that I’m at the half-way point in my exchange, it feels like so much has happened yet I clearly remember the first day I moved into my dorm. There is so much to share, dorm life, studies in Japan, travel! With this I’ll divide my experiences into two, first Part 1 – dormitory life and being away from home.

To be honest with you, during my first semester of my exchange I felt no homesickness, this doesn’t mean I didn’t miss my family, but I was so absorbed with everyday life that nothing could overcome the excitement. However, after a brief visit back home to Australia in the Summer Holidays, I feel myself experiencing this very much delayed homesickness. Frequent calls with family help a lot and falling back into my routine assist in occupying my thoughts.

My everyday routine has become so normal at this point that returning from Australia back to my dorm for this semester, I remember thinking at the airport, wow I’m home! At this point, my cosy little room in my dormitory has really become a second home to me. Catching the trains back I couldn’t wait to get off at my little train station in Saitama and walk to my dorm. Keep in mind that my room has become so homey that I don’t know how I’m going to manage bringing all my goodies purchased back to Australia!

On a different note, an aspect of this exchange that I was not expecting was the goodbyes I had to say during my stay here. Whether I was a 6 month or full year exchange student. The goodbyes were always inevitable. At my dormitory called “Rikkyo Global House”, living with over 60 other students, I found myself making many friends. I made friendships in the last 5-6 months which I can proudly say will last me a lifetime. In my dormitory in particular, all my facilities are shared, with my only private space being my room with my bed, study desk, shelves and a sink to wash up. Due to this, every step in my daily routine is filled with interactions with the people in my dorm. Living on the 5th floor I have to go down to the first floor to cook my meals, have my showers and do my laundry. A simple day at home is filled with many human interactions, which at first was very intimidating, but soon became the reason for us becoming one big family. Spending my every moment of the day, including studying, with friends became natural and comfortable to the point that being alone felt odd.

The hard part of this was that most of these friends I made, chose to make the duration of their exchange as one semester rather than the two semesters, which I had chosen to take. This resulted in us having to part our ways. To be honest, I struggled at first with being left behind in the dorm as all the members of my newly made family left. But as I looked back on our time together and my reasons for coming on this exchange, I quickly picked myself up and am continuing with my determination to continue improving my Japanese studies and making the most of this exchange. Now I have made connections all over the world and whether I want to visit Switzerland, America, England, Indonesia and many more countries, I have a place to stay and arms that I know will be open to take me in on my travels. Not only this, but with a majority of us exchange students at Rikkyo being business students, this contributes to my worldwide networking which I believe will be of assistance to me in my International Business major. My eyes have been opened to all our cultural and language differences, and with this I feel like I have improved as a person.

With one semester left, I can already genuinely say I would never trade this experience and the things I have gained from this exchange for anything in the world.

A snapshot of my Singapore experience (so far)

Rusil W, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) / Bachelor of Science

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (Semester 1 & 2, 2018)

In a bit under a week I’ll be flying back to Singapore for my second semester at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). To be honest, I don’t think I’ve really finished processing my first semester. But I’ll do my best to summarise it here.

To start, the first few weeks felt almost surreal. Coming from the very compact Gardens Point Campus, NTU – with ~20 student residential halls, ~15 canteens and 2 supermarkets (just to name a few things) – feels like its own self-contained town. These facilities exist because the majority of NTU students live on campus during the week,which results in a significantly different student life. Dinner at the canteens would be shared with (for less than $5 might I add). The student club culture also seems far more invested because everyone is on campus. In Mid-February, lion dance performances for Chinese New Year could be heard from my room, and in mid-April, cheerleading practice could be heard into the late hours of the night.

The semester started off with a trip with some other exchange students to Pulau Ubin – a small island off Singapore which hasn’t been encroached by the concrete jungle. It acts as a kind of heritage area for the what the main island was like before major urbanization. This provided a great first opportunity to meet other exchange students from across the world – Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, Taiwan, China … too many for me to remember.

 

Most of the other exchange students I met primarily used Singapore as a gateway for travel throughout South-East Asia – using mid-sem break, public holidays, and even time between finals to visit countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Now, while I can’t begin to express my envy as I heard one friend’s plans to visit Vietnam between open book exams, Singapore isn’t just a travel hub. It’s also a cultural one.

People always think of Australia as a cultural mixing pot because of its very immigrant-based history, and Singapore is like that too, in a way. The island has three main ethnic groups: Chinese, Malay and Indian. While the Chinese population is clearly dominant, it’s fairly easy to experience all three cultures in various ways. This includes physical places like Chinatown and Little India, celebrations like Chinese New Year, and the food (most importantly).

In fact, Singapore is probably the best place I can think of for an east meets west experience (besides maybe Hong Kong). This lets you sate virtually any cultural desire – which in my case was music. In just one semester, I managed to see two on campus concerts, a Singapore Symphony Orchestra concert (for only $10!!!!) and Fallout Boy – while eyeing performances by MIYAVI (a Japanese rockstar), the St Petersburg Ballet, and a showcase of works by Monet and Renoir.

Before starting exchange, a semester abroad sounds like a lot, but while there the time just flashes past. I’m glad to have another semester to do some things I missed, catch up with some friends, and make even more new ones.