Ciao Italy!

Andrew P., Master of Business Process Management
Politecnico Di Milano, Italy (Semester 1, 2016,)

Host University

I went on exchange at Politecnico di Milano (Polimi) in Semester 1, 2016 at the Leonardo campus. It is a widely respected university in Europe with a rich history in engineering.

Note in Europe, their semesters are reversed which means our 1st semester is their 2nd. Polimi semesters start around 3 weeks after the QUT equivalent so you might (will) miss the first few weeks of your next semester when you return.

Most units will consist of two 2hr lectures and one final exam during the exam period. You get 2 attempts to pass the exam. This all-or-nothing final examination approach threw me off compared to how it’s done in QUT so you’ll need to self-manage your own studies from day one (my lectures were not recorded). If you are going in your first semester (QUT), try extending your stay to include their September exam session which will allow you to have 2 extra attempts to pass the exam as a precaution.

I found an apartment before arriving using a website called Uniplaces. They provide an intermediary in case you find the apartment not to your liking. I paid for a single room in a 2-bedroom apartment which cost me 500euro per month. This is average price you should expect to pay. Luckily, I’ve had no problems with my accommodation (and I’ve heard stories).

Host Country

I enjoyed my time in Italy and you can survive speaking only English but I would definitely recommend learning Italian before and during exchange. It definitely makes the experience so much more rewarding. I had a lot of fun interacting with my fellow international students via Polimi’s free language classes.

Milan is an expensive city to live in, compared to Brisbane. Try and buy whatever you need at the street markets scattered throughout the city.

Highlights

  • I’m a football fan and it was great to watch (and attend) quality games within normal hours!
  • The sun doesn’t set until 9pm which allows you to make the most of the day. It’s definitely something I immediately miss upon returning.
  • Joining the ERASMUS group and making new friends. They do plenty of trips and social events. Great fun!
  • Italians have a tradition called Aperitivo. By purchasing a beverage, you have full access to the buffet they set out in the afternoon. It’s a social and financial lifeline for students!

Tips

Before Leaving

  • If you’re planning on taking a credit card (recommended) try getting one that gives you complementary travel insurance if you use the card to pay for your flights or accommodation. I knew a few students who went travelling after the study period.
  • Don’t forget your stationary
  • Pack light, you’ll be bringing back more than you can imagine.
  • A laptop is essential.
  • Try to get as many transfer units as possible. There may be circumstances in which you won’t be able to do some of the units that you applied for. Be prepared to have overlapping units.
  • I used a Citibank Plus account for cash withdrawals and a 28 Degrees account for credit card purchases and highly recommend both.

During Exchange

  • Apply for an ATM Transport Card. Renew every month for 22euro at the Metro Stations.
  • I signed on to Vodafone prepaid plan as it also allows cheap data roaming in other countries (5euro per day). The other big telecoms Wind and TIM do not provide this.
  • Applying for a Permesso di Sogiorno (Permit to stay) is a very daunting experience. I actually got my card a couple of weeks before I was set to leave!

Calling Copenhagen Home

Vicky Z., Bachelor of Creative Industries
Danish School of Media & Journalism (Semester 2, 2017)

The Danish School of Media & Journalism (DMJX) is seriously a great school, and SO different from QUT. It’s academically intense and the students are older (23-30, since most have already completed a past degree in design) and are very talented and serious, yet the classroom had a relaxed and family-like vibe. The school is really hard to get into and its students are sought-after in the design industry!

 

I had class Monday to Friday, from 9am to about 1pm, although in busier times we’d all stay until 4pm or even 10pm, working. The class had 23 students, and we were in the same room every day. The best parts were that we each had a desk and Mac (like a studio!), and the canteen was amazing and affordable.

Studio Classroom

We would have the same teacher for 2-6 weeks, and guest lectures/presentations/briefs from small and large companies all the time. We had Volvo, DR (Denmark’s largest TV Radio Media company like the ABC), Bennybox (an animation company in Copenhagen), and many more. A lot of time was self-directed learning and working on assignments, with lectures being casual.

We only worked on one assignment at a time, which I really liked. At the end of each task, there was no criteria sheet or marking. Instead, we’d give a short presentation to the class, and receive feedback from the teacher, guest, and each other. It was inspiring and I learned a lot from seeing other students’ work.

Accommodation

I applied for housing through DMJX, and they offered me a room at Hjortespringkollegiet in Herlev. It was a 30 minute bike ride from school and about an hour from the city centre, which was a little far, but bearable. My room was huge for a dorm’s standards, I had my own bathroom and balcony, and shared a clean, large kitchen with 10 others. Around 1 in 12 students are exchange students; the rest are Danish. I recommend living here — I really loved it and made many friends. The dorm bar was open once or twice a week; it’s easy to meet people and make friends there.

 

Shared Kitchen

Host Country

Denmark is such a wonderful country. The cost of living is similar or a little higher than Brisbane. Public transport and eating out are expensive, but if you ride your bike and cook more at home, it’s not too bad. Copenhagen is hip and I loved the fashion, jewellery, art, and Scandinavian style.

Danish people are really easy to get along with. They’re really friendly, although some may warm up to you slowly. And there are almost no language barriers as they are all very good at English (even grannies speak fluently).

Getting Along with my Danish Friends

Some differences I noticed were that when people get off the bus, they don’t say ‘thank you’, and paying at supermarkets is a very fast, impersonal, brisk process. No small talk. They scan your items ridiculously fast, you kind of just get out as soon as possible. But in smaller shops and boutiques, they’re super friendly.

On almost every street you will find a plant shop (flowers, succulents and whatnot), a pay-by-weight candy store, a hairdresser, kebab store, and bakery!

Highlights of exchange

Loving Denmark

Meeting so many people was amazing, and seeing so many cities was wonderful. I loved that I could call Copenhagen my home for five months, and become familiar with all the stores, brands, suburbs, streets, and the city as a whole.

Things you didn’t expect

Everyone’s naked in the communal showers and change rooms.

When I went on the school camp, and to a public swimming pool, the girls’ showers had no cubicles! It was just one big room with shower heads in a row. At first I was very reluctant, but then I decided to just suck it up and embrace the Danish way of life. I highly recommend this experience. It’s only awkward if you make it awkward.

Another thing I didn’t expect was how depressing and energy-sucking the cold darkness can be. In January, the sun rose at 8.30 and set at 4pm. The short, cold days and lack of sunshine made me feel tired and a lot drearier than in summer. I wish I could’ve been more positive and taken initiative to do fun things and socialised and continued exploring the city, but honestly I just wanted to crawl into a hole and lie there most days. In Summertime the sun sets at 9pm though, and it’s the bomb dot com.

Tips & Advice for Future Students

  • You must get a bike. It’s the easiest, cheapest, funnest way to get around. Make sure you lock it every time though. Biking around the city and surrounding suburbs is super easy and so beautiful, especially during summer.
  • If you try to learn Danish, make sure you practice speaking early on! Danes love helping and correcting you and teaching you phrases.
  • Get a Citibank no fee debit card. The exchange rate is good and there are no fees. I used this card for all my travels and time in Denmark.
  • Try the ‘ristet pølse med det hele’ from the hotdog stand behind the Vesterbro train station. It’s a hotdog with mustard, ketchup, remoulade, raw onions, fried crispy onions and pickles.
  • Zaggi’s cafe near Nørreport does 15kr (3 aud) coffees and cakes!
  • Many of the museums and galleries are free on certain days of the week, be sure to visit them because they are all very cool! Especially the National Gallery of Denmark.
  • Try to visit Dyrehaven — this park used to be the royal hunting grounds and now it’s where adorable deer roam free!
  • Not to be mixed up with the park, Cafe Dyrehaven does excellent smørrebrød for ~$10 aud each. The chicken one and potato one are nice.
  • If you visit Malmo (the Swedish city across the bridge from Copenhagen), try to take a daytrip to Lund as well. It’s a small, cute town.
  • Shop at Flying Tiger and Søstrene Grene for cute, cheap home wares when you first move in. They’re a bit like kmart.
  • Do lots of outdoor stuff in summer! Fælledparken (park), Superkilen (park), the lakes, Dyrehaven, paddleboating, the beach, botanic gardens, FLEAMARKETS, Kongens Have (the King’s Park)… there is so much to do and it is so so so beautiful.
  • Fall in love with Copenhagen and go back one day :’)

Timothy’s Travel Tips – USA, Canada, and Europe

Timothy F., ​Bachelor of Justice / Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
University of Wyoming, USA (Semester 2, 2017)

Host University

Campus life within the University of Wyoming was completely different from that within Brisbane. I arrived at the end of Fall and start of Winter so the campus was so beautiful with all the trees changing colour. About two months into the semester we had our first blizzard overnight; in the morning, absolutely everything was covered in snow (about 2 feet) and there was a massive snowplow and bobcat running around campus clearing all the snow.

Classic London

The city, Laramie, each year takes over Antarctica as the coldest place on earth for a short period of time due to the combination of snowstorms and fast winds. This year was no different and it reached below -30 degrees without taking into account wind chill. I joined a Fraternity whilst studying (Sigma Phi Epsilon) and enjoyed every second of it. Only after joining a Fraternity did I realise the extent of the dramatization of Fraternities due to Hollywood; there is so, so much more to a Fraternity/Sorority (female Fraternity) than what is portrayed. Most weeks within the Fraternity involved attending self-improvement seminars, philanthropic events and community service opportunities.

University Life

Host Country and Travels

By the time I arrive home I would have studied for a total of 4 months and lived outside my Host University for a total of 3 months on the road. Luckily for me I had attended International House College within the University of Queensland for two years and thus, made many friends from all over the world. Due to this, I was able to, and currently am, couch surfing all over the world.

I started off my travels with a 10-day road trip around Canada (Toronto > Montreal) then took a Grey Hound bus (as I did everywhere to save money) to Boston. From Boston I traveled the East Coast ending at New York. Each location on the East Coast I stayed with a friend for about 5-8 days total. By the time I started my study in Wyoming (August 28) I had seen over 7 states within the US and 5 cities within Canada. At the moment I am on my post-travel adventures. I finished school on the 18th December and since then I have been snowboarding and hiking all around the Colorado Rockies, backpacking around America, Netherlands and exploring areas of Europe, including London for a period of 13 days. I have payed for accommodation literally once this entire trip, being Amsterdam. It’s all about who you know!

Canals at night

 

Tips and advice for future students

I had one rule when I wanted to travel somewhere: You can never do enough personal research on the destination you are going to and the destinations you want to see! You will never hear the end of this from the Study Abroad Office at QUT. However if you do a superficial job researching your travels, you will have a superficial time and quite potentially run into trouble (for example, I missed a connecting bus time-change from New York > Wyoming which resulted in a 9 hour wait in a very questionable Cincinnati bus stop – do not recommend). I was able to see a total of 14 States within America, travel around the Netherlands and see a lot of England within a total of 3 months without encountering any major issues because I had planned the costs and logistics and foresaw any problems I may face by spending hours brainstorming. It sounds excessive, but there is nothing worse than being alone in a country you know nothing about and having no plan of action.

Planning is key

Leave all your preconceived notions of what it may be like wherever it is you are going and just accept being immersed in the new culture, it’s honestly the best way.

Cheese and Baguettes? Oui Oui!

Relicia G., Bachelor of Fine Arts/ Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
Catholique Universitie de Lille, France (Semester 1, 2017)

Exchange is honestly going to be the best decision you ever
make. If you’re going to the Catholique Universitie de Lille,
then there are a few simple things that can help you adjust
to life in France.

Catholique Universitie de Lille

My suggestion, if you want to be close to campus, is to
definitely stay in the AEU student housing. We don’t really
have the opportunity to be completely immersed in student
life this way in Brisbane, so it’s a very unique experience.
More importantly, it’s also where you’ll make most of
your friends, go to fun events sponsored by the AEU
and be involved in a lot of school activities. Plus you
get free breakfast!

Free breaky!

The way the schooling system works is a lot like the
Australian high school, you’ll be at class 5 days a
week and you’ll have a lot of subjects to do. But
luckily, these subjects will not be as difficult as the four units we do at QUT.
So never fear, you’ll have plenty of time to have fun!
There are a lot of multicultural projects that you can be involved in such as
sport, dancing and photography. My favorite was the gastronomy project, where
you can get together with a group of French and
other exchange students, and essentially just eat!
You get to enjoy allot of foreign cuisines, and
learn about culture and traditions from other
nationalities.


There are also a lot of sport teams you can join,
such as basketball, handball and badminton. I
strongly suggest that you get involved in as many of
these projects and teams as possible because that’s
where you’ll get your best experiences!
It’s also a smart idea to familiarize yourself with the
public transport systems, as that is what you will be
primarily using to get around. The metro and bus
systems are pretty cheap, but the train gets very
expensive if you have to use it last minute.

Some funky facts about France:
– There are entire isles dedicated to cheese and wines
– You have to eat the baguettes in one day or else they’ll go off
– Classes usually start at 8am
– It rains constantly (and for some reason only tourists use umbrellas)
– If you’re there during the winter, bring a coat because it’s going to get
REALLY cold
– Everything is closed on Sundays. EVERYTHING.
– You won’t need to buy books, everything is either
emailed to you or given in class (like
highschool)
– Familiarized yourself with bisous, I guarantee
your going to have strangers come up to you
expecting it
– If someone invites you over for lunch or dinner, expect it to take at
least 3 hours minimum
– If you need something done, by any French association, double the
time you’d expect it to take, then add an extra 2 weeks
– Be wary of the smelly cheese

But the most important thing to remember is:
HAVE FUN!

Hej from Sweden!

Jordan S., Bachelor of Engineering
Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden (Semester 2, 2016)

Hej jag heter Jordan Simpson! I undertook an exchange semester at Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg (Gothenburg) Sweden during the second semester of 2016!

Host University

Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg

I found that life on campus at Chalmers is quite different to QUT. A few of the main differences I found was the block scheduling of courses, the really cheap lunches they provide, and the amount of leisure activity rooms. I found the block scheduling of classes to be quite good; it meant not having to deal with class registration and ending up with a shocking timetable.  It even usually allowed for one or two free days a week! Chalmers also offered really cheap and decent quality/sized meals each day for 40kr (which is approx. $6.50). Chalmers also had heaps of buildings that could be used for all sorts of leisure activities (indoor soccer/basketball, rock climbing, even a billiard area!).

Accommodation can be quite hard to come by for the local university students of Gothenburg wishing to move out of their parent’s place. These students have to start queuing to find a place when they are in grade 9 or 10 in high school! However, being an international student, Chalmers and SGS Studentböstader (a student housing company) offers priority 1 when looking for accommodation during your stay in Gothenburg.

From an academics standpoint, Chalmers is very different to QUT. The main difference being that instead of taking 4 courses over a semester, the semester is broken up into two study periods. Each study period lasts 8 weeks, and during this time you take 2 courses. This means that the courses are a lot heavier, but leads to a much easier time during exam block period.

Host Country

City of Gothenburg

The cost of living is almost identical to Australia, only major difference being the alcohol prices in their bottle shops. Getting around in Gothenburg is very easy! The public transport system is phenomenal (well almost anything is compared to my hometown, Mackay).  There are many trams and busses running all the time to get you to where you need to go. If you want to see a bit more of Sweden there are also plenty of top quality trains to take!

I found the culture of Sweden to be quite similar to our own. With one notable difference being people keep to themselves at first so you have to really initiate conversation. But once you start to get them talking they are just as friendly and inviting as we are! If you are also wondering how the language barrier is, I can assure you that it is almost non-existent. Almost every Swedish person I met was able to speak English perfectly and switched to it as soon as they knew you only spoke English!

One of the cool things I really enjoyed about my time in Sweden was actually being able to experience the four seasons of the year! My favourite time of the year was Autumn as I found it cool to see everything go orange, and actually see the physical change from Summer.

Highlights/Tips

It’s hard to choose highlights from my exchange as the whole experience has been absolutely fantastic.  One of the many highlights was being able to meet so many people from different countries.  I got to experience bits and pieces of their cultures and share some from mine, while also learning about the Swedish culture with them.  However, one of my favourite times during this exchange was when my mates and I went for a weekend in Stockholm before going on a 3-day cruise to Talin, Estonia.

Northern lights in Lapland

The best tip I can give is get involved with CIRC (Chalmers’ International Student Society), and make sure to go to all of their events during the first few weeks so you can meet heaps of people that eventually make a good group of friends! Also, the one event I highly recommend (which I personally didn’t get to go to but all of my friends did) is the Lapland trip! During this you travel to the far north of Sweden and get to experience ridiculously cold temperatures, go dog sledging, and see the Northern Lights!

 

Two Semesters in Nice, France

Tom M., Master of Business (Applied Finance)
EDHEC Business School, France (Semester 1, 2017)

EDHEC Business School campus in Nice

I spent two semesters over nine months in France at the EDHEC Business School campus in Nice from September 2016 to May 2017, completing the dual master programme in applied finance/corporate finance and banking. During this time, I lived in central Nice and studied at the EDHEC campus about 5km out of the city centre. The classes, assessment, academic organisation, cohort and campus at EDHEC were all quite different to my studies in Brisbane at QUT.

The campus itself is quite nice and modern and is much smaller than that of QUT in Gardens Point or Kelvin Grove. The library is also quite small, so students tend to study inside vacant classrooms or at home. The content and assessment of classes was overall more challenging than that at QUT and very case study-based, which was useful in gaining more knowledge in applicability of theoretical concepts to actual business cases. The school has quite a strong focus on case studies and recruits many lecturers from corporate positions for short stints of teaching, including from accounting and law firms, investment and corporate banks and consultancies. I found this a great way of teaching because it helped me to gain insight into the work-life practices of people within these careers and see what their roles really entailed, and it offered good opportunities for networking.

Living in Nice was obviously quite a large change from Brisbane in several ways. Firstly, it is much smaller in size and population than Brisbane making it quite easy to get around town without a car. While the general culture is also different, I found it generally pleasant and a fun place to live and didn’t experience much of a “culture shock”. The cohort of international students often has similar backgrounds and interests and there are often student-led functions and events, so socialising with other exchange students is easy and fun. While I tried to improve my French, nearly everyone understands English so getting around and meeting people is often easy. The city of Nice itself is also a great holiday destination and really fun to live in as there are numerous restaurants, bars and public gardens to explore, and the French Riviera has some great beaches and views of the Mediterranean.

Moving to France was daunting at first but overall, a great experience that helped me to meet people, make lots of new friends and learn finance from a European perspective. Finding a job in Europe is also far easier with a European qualification and while living in the region, which is something that wouldn’t have been as easily available from Australia.

Making the most out of my Mannheim Exchange

Emma K., Bachelor of Law
University of Mannheim, Germany (Semester 1, 2017)

I completed my year abroad at the University of Mannheim, Germany. The campus is the 2nd largest Baroque Palace in Europe and is an absolutely beautiful university to attend. The university itself had two cafeterias on campus with cheap meals for students, but was also ideally located in the city so it was easy to find a café elsewhere.

University Life

Every Thursday the university would host an event called ‘Schneckenhof’ which is an open air party with a DJ, stage, bars, photo booth and usually a theme. It was one of my favourite events to go to and always had hundreds of students there. You’re guaranteed to bump into a lot of the international students.

Education

Academics wise, I found the subjects I undertook (Public International Law, Introduction to German Private Law, Commercial Space Law, Intellectual Property Law, International Labour Law and International Criminal Law) to be challenging throughout the semester, but I was still able to travel nearly every weekend without worrying about failing. Overall, I achieved great grades at the end considering how much traveling and partying I did in between.

Accommodation

I stayed at a student residence known as Ulmenweg. If you are attending Mannheim, I highly recommend Ulmenweg if you are a sociable person as many international students live here and it’s fantastic for meeting people and always having someone to hang out with.

My room had everything I needed, plus a sink and then a shared shower, toilet and kitchen area. The only downside with Ulmenweg is that it is considered to be in the “countryside” as it is a 15-minute tram ride from the city. The tram stop is right out the front of the residence and if you have a bike it’s also a mere 15-minute bike ride. So, really not an issue at all.

BBQ at Ulmenweg

Ulmenweg also has outdoor bbq’s which are great in warm weather, a music room and a party room which has party’s every Wednesday and Sunday night. For groceries, there are 3 nearby supermarkets within a 10-minute walk of the residence and also very very cheap.

Cost of Living

Mannheim is INCREDIBLY cheap. Travel wise, Mannheim has a major bus and train station so it is unbelievably easy to travel from here and being centrally located in Europe it’s easy to get to anywhere from here.

The highlights of my exchange were all the friendships I made, how much I got to travel because it was SO easy and how cheap it was to live in Mannheim. I felt like I got to experience so much more because of how cheap it was and how easily I could catch a bus to the next country and spend the weekend in Paris.

Tips and Advice

A struggle I had to overcome was having an extremely messy and inconsiderate housemate. Unfortunately, you cannot choose who you live with if it’s a student residence so hopefully the odds are in your favour.

If you’re deciding on whether or not to apply for exchange, just do it. After spending a week in Mannheim I had made the decision to extend my exchange from one semester to two. It was the best decision of my life, the experiences I’ve had will have an impression on me forever and I’m so grateful for all the amazing friends made.

Overall, without a doubt the best year of my life so far. I have so much love for Mannheim and I could not recommend it more highly. The people, the crazy events and parties hosted by the university are what made it such a fun and unforgettable experience. I made so many friends, traveled 18 countries and passed all my subjects with only a little concern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Different Style of Education: Sheffield Halllam University

Chloe R., Bachelor of Journalism
Sheffield Hallam University, England (Semester 2, 2016)

SHU’s City Campus is like that of QUT’s Kelvin Grove Campus. There are multiple university buildings, some close together and others a small walk away. Sprinkled among them are cafes, pubs and cute boutique shops.

The facilities at SHU are identical to those at QUT, although there are several differences between the two university’s educational systems.

For starters, students don’t get to choose their own timetable. Classes are assigned to students at the beginning of the semester and there’s a general expectation that students should mould their life outside of university (such as work, family and extracurricular activities) around those times. Because of this, classes are often spread apart. For example, you might have a tutorial from 9am to 11am and then another tutorial from 5pm to 7pm.

Lectures are one-hour long and tutorials are two-hours long.Lectures are a lot more intimate at SHU than they are at QUT. There are about 40 students per lecture, and the lectures are often held in a small classroom. During most lectures, the lecturer will take attendance. Attendance doesn’t have any influence over your grade, but if the lecturer notices you’re not attending for an extended period (around three weeks, I’ve been told), then they’ll contact you to see if you’re alright.

 

Tutorials at SHU are around the same size as those at QUT (around 15 people). However, unlike QUT, tutorials at SHU are a lot more practise-based. For example, in one of my units, we often spent half the tutorial (one hour) learning from our tutor and the other half (one hour) writing content based on that week’s prompts. Likewise, in another unit, we spent half the tutorial (one hour) learning about new photographic techniques, and the other half (one hour) in the streets of Sheffield, aspiring to replicate those given techniques.

I found the tutors at SHU to be a lot more compassionate than those at QUT. Each of my SHU tutors: made a conscious effort to learn everyone’s name; often made rounds during classes to chat one-on-one with students and see how they were faring with both the coursework and life; stressed the fact that they were there to help and that no question was too idiotic; and posted times that they were free during the week so that students could pop in for a chat.

In addition, tutors at SHU are able (and often more than happy) to accept student drafts. Drafting is not compulsory at SHU, nor is it expected, but the option is available to all students (one which I took advantage of on multiple occasions).

SHU units had a lot fewer assignments due per semester than that of QUT units. For each SHU class, I had just two assignments due (a total of six for the semester). This was both good and bad. Good, in that I had fewer assignments to do, and could therefore spend more time perfecting the given assignments or traveling abroad. Bad, because it meant that each assignment was worth a lot of my overall grade and that I was often tempted to procrastinate.

The grading structure at SHU (as with all English universities) is a lot less harsh than those of Australian universities (such as QUT). To get a First (the English equivalent of a High Distinction), you must score a mark of 70%+. At QUT, a 65% to 74% mark gets you a Credit; a 75% to 84% mark gets you a Distinction; and you must score a mark of 85%+ to get a High Distinction.

Overall, I found that the less harsh grading structure, coupled with fewer assignments and the option for assignments to be drafted, made for a much more stress-free and rewarding educational environment than that of QUT.

 

 

 

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!

My first month as an exchange student at QUT

My name is Shengyi and I’m a sophomore in clinical medicine from Nanjing Medical University. I am undertaking my exchange semester at Queensland University of Technology. I am honored to receive an Endeavour Cheung Kong Student Exchange Program grant from Australian Government, and I appreciate that QUT provided such a precious opportunity for me to learn advanced medical technology.

What Brisbane is like

I arrived in Brisbane on 15th February, and now I have been in Brisbane for nearly a month. My first impression on Brisbane is that everything is in large size. Cars are large, beef burgers are large, and streets are large (wide and spacious). Brisbane is a metropolis. There are many skyscrapers and fancy mansions located near the CBD. Brisbane is scenic city with a landscape of lakes and hills. The ecological environment is fascinating, when I’m walking on the street, I can see Australian egrets and smell the fragrance of sweet-smelling flowers.

The place I live

The campus of QUT is quite close to Brisbane city area. I booked my accommodation months ago and I’m currently living with my friends in Woolloongabba. It is convenient, just a few miles far away from GP and not far to stores.

Orientation week

The first week is the orientation week,during which I participated in a variety of different activities. I took part in Study Abroad and Exchange Student Orientation welcome session and got my student ID card with the friendly assistance from volunteers in the library. During lunchtime, I sat down with my friends on the lawn, enjoying the gentle breeze and the food which only cost two dollars.

At the weekends, I went to the Golden Coast with my friends. I took a lift to the top of Building Q1 (Queensland Number One), which is one of the tallest skyscrapers in the Southern Hemisphere and had a bird’s eye view of Queensland. I was deeply impressed by the Surfers Paradise where there were many tourists and local people surfing in the sea.

Schoolwork

The experience as an exchange student at QUT is splendid. However, I also have to face some challenges in my study. My major at QUT is Biomedical, which means I need to memorize a lot of specialized vocabulary and I have to do preview before each of my classes, otherwise I would have difficulty understanding what the lecture is talking about. As a non-native speaker, I haven’t had a class in English before, so it really takes me some time to adapt to a pure-English environment.