Time Of My Life In Nagoya

Christina Z., Bachelor of Creative Industries / Bachelor of Law (Honours)
Meijo University, Japan (Semester 2, 2018)

I never thought in my entire life that I would ever do karaoke. Before my exchange I was quite shy; a little quiet around people I didn’t know. Don’t get me wrong, I love singing, just not in front of other people. I was afraid that people might judge me and that I wasn’t good at it. However in Japan I found my voice, literally and figuratively. If it is one thing that Japanese people do well it is karaoke. It doesn’t matter if you are bad, average, or sound like Whitney Houston. It just matters that you put yourself out there and that you enjoyed the experience.

Meeting new friends!

Life on campus was fairly good for the most part, however being one of three Caucasian students in the whole school definitely made you stand out. It was a bit strange at first but you get used to the staring and such. Meijo University also set me up with a job in an area of the university that they call Global Plaza. This area was where students could come to study English and practice conversation. Through being a conversation partner I was able to make a lot of friends and get more involved with university life. The facilities were quite well kept, there were even tennis courts, a gymnasium and computer labs. Accommodation wise the room I stayed in comes with everything you will need – bathroom, kitchen, mini fridge, desk, and bed and storage space. It was small but honestly you don’t need that much space, and an added benefit was that you got to live alone too. It was great being so close to the university (a three minute walk), the train station, bank, restaurants and convenience stores. The study aspect of my exchange was surprisingly quite simple and definitely not as busy as QUT. I only had to go in once a week for one class and the assessments were generally not stressful.

Nagoya and surrounds

Placing myself in a completely new environment with different customs and a completely different culture was very eye-opening. People would always tell me that going on exchange changed their lives, and I would always nod along even if I didn’t quite believe them. Well, I should have. Now I can truly say that going to Japan and studying abroad has definitely changed me forever. I have met so many different people while I was over there. They came from places such as France, Austria, Turkey, America and even Korea. I have a lot of friends in different places now, and being away from them has taught me about how important making connections is. With them I got to experience the wonders of Japan; from New Year’s shrine visits, autumn leaves and hot springs, all the way to snowboarding, all you can drink izakaya’s, and the infamous 24 hour convenience stores. Japan is very big on their nightlife. Even in Nagoya people stay out quite late to socialise and drink. There is a reason why those convenience stores are open at all hours.

Friends at a local Pub

Another fantastic thing that happened was that I got to see snow for the very first time. I felt like a child when I woke up that morning and looked out my window. I didn’t even take time out to have a shower before I dressed and left my room. I spent two hours outside that day playing in the snow with my friend Stone. We made snowwomen, threw snow balls off the rooftop of our apartment building and overall just had a great time being 5 years old again.

First time seeing snow

Despite the big cultural differences I didn’t have the huge culture shock that everyone was expecting me to when I first arrived. However as I spent more time integrating into the culture there were a few things that surprised me. In my case, Japan had such a lack of cultural diversity that I found it hard to blend in. I would stand out wherever I went and people did treat you differently because they knew you weren’t from there. However that is not always a bad thing. Another thing I did not expect was the separation of sexes at a university level. Usually, that happens in primary school and sometimes high school but it dissipates as you get into university. In Japan, however, there are no co-ed sports teams, friends sit apart in class (boys with boys and girls with girls) and no one really hugs over here. Finally, Christmas is another occasion that has a completely different meaning in Japan than it does in Australia. Everyone still goes to work and school on Christmas Day, in fact, it is seen as a day for couples. However New Years is when everyone has time off and goes to be with their family.

Exploring Nagoya with friends

For anyone looking to go overseas and study, I would say to go without expectations and keep an open mind. That way you can really be involved in things you might not have thought you would be. I loved my life there and I was very sad to leave it behind, but I am so grateful I got to experience Japan.

 

 

 

 

 

Aussie among the Brits: My semester abroad

Sarah K. – Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Laws
University of Leeds, England (Semester 2, 2016)

I had the time of my life studying at the University of Leeds during Semester 2, 2016.

Leeds is located at the centre of the UK in the Yorkshire region, about 315km North of London. It is an awesome student city which meant cheaper living costs (especially compared to somewhere like London!) and the opportunity to meet heaps of university students.

The University of Leeds was really great, and incidentally while I was there, it was awarded University of the Year 2017. It was my main choice because it provided a lot of subject options which allowed me to match up all of my law and business units. It was also interesting listening to lecturers with English, Irish and Scottish accents. Different to QUT, lectures are compulsory and your timetables are configured for you, there is no option to design your own schedule. The university also offered hundreds of different clubs! I joined a number of societies, notably the ‘Leeds Snowriders’ skiing and snowboarding society. Being a member allowed me to go on the university ski trip to Andorra, located on the border of France and Spain, which was an absolute blast.

In England, after graduating from High School, most students will move cities and live in on-campus student accommodation Halls for their first year of university. During my semester, I opted for catered living in Devonshire Hall, which was only a 15 minute walk from campus and looked a lot like Hogwarts. I cannot recommend student accommodation enough – you’re living with hundreds of other students just like yourself, which makes it so easy to make friends!

Devonshire Hall consists of several houses with both catered and self-catered students. My house had 10 people in it including myself, one other Australian exchange student, one American exchange student and the rest were all English students. Being catered at Devonshire Hall (or ‘Dev’ as it was quickly termed) meant that breakfast and dinner were always social occasions used to catch up with friends and plan weekend adventures. The food was pretty good but prepare yourself…England LOVE potatoes! Dev was also a really social Hall with frequent social events, quiz nights, movie nights, hall sports teams and drama and music groups. University accommodation allows you to meet so many different kinds of people from your home country as well as international students. Besides connecting with a lot of Aussies, some of my closest friends came from various places around England, New Zealand, Iceland, Netherlands, Japan, Denmark and many more.

I chose England for the location of my exchange because of its location within Europe. Other than the friendships I formed, travelling was what I loved most about exchange. I managed to fit in travel before, during and after my semester. I loved the ability to meet people from different countries and experience a variety of cultures. Exchange allowed me to be independent and self-sufficient whilst also completing my studies and it’s something that I think everyone should experience – you won’t regret it.

On exchange at Oxford Brookes University

Joanna G., Bachelor of Design (Honours)
Oxford Brookes University, England (Semester 2, 2018)

I had the opportunity of going on exchange to the small city of Oxford in England. I absolutely loved experiencing and living in Oxford as it is a beautiful city filled with stunning architecture, rich history and is home to the prestigious University of Oxford. I chose to study at a university in England because it has such a strong reputation for being at the forefront of developments in design, fashion and architecture both throughout history and the modern era, so this held a real attraction for me given my field of study.

Traditional Architecture in Oxford

Studying at Oxford Brookes University opened me up to many new experiences, lifelong friends, and was very academically rewarding. The interior course was quite different to the one at QUT. The class size was a lot smaller, only consisting of 14 students, and there was a lot of model making which took a while to get the hang of but taught me so much in the process that I can apply to my interior units back at QUT. One of the highlights of studying interior was the five day field trip to Barcelona, Spain half way through the semester. I got the opportunity to visit iconic architecture and top firms along with the rest of my second-year class and the third-year students, without missing out on any classes.

Student Trip to the Seaside

In terms of accommodation, I stayed at Clive Booth Hall which was only a short 7 minute walk from the main Headington campus! In my flat I lived with 5 other girls who were all lovely. The flats were very basic – I had my own room with a sink but shared a bathroom and kitchen.

My room in Clive Booth Hall

The university offered many extra-curricular activities. On campus they had a sports centre which included a basketball court, gym, rock climbing wall and a sports bar where it was common for students to socialise while grabbing something to eat/drink after class. There are many sporting teams that you are able to try out for. I joined the rowing team which was a new and fun experience, I made many friends while keeping fit at the same time.

John Henry Brookes Building at Headington Campus

Oxford Brookes also offered weekend day trips to other English cities for international students. These trips were quite popular, having to get in quickly to reserve a seat on the bus. They were such an easy and cheap way to be shown around other popular English cities including Brighton, Isle of Wight, Cambridge, Bath, and Liverpool. Furthermore, it was extremely easy to catch a bus to London or to any of the airports in London to go away for weekend trips. I went to Oktoberfest and visited Dublin with a group of flatmates throughout the semester. These weekend trips were some of my favourite highlights.

Traditional Buildings on Campus

Choosing to study in Oxford was one of the best experiences of my life. I was devastated with how quickly the time went and would have loved to stay longer. My advice to other students considering going on exchange is go for it! Travelling to another part of the world on your own may seem scary and intimidating at first, but the experiences, lifelong friends and opportunities are entirely worth it. Challenge and put yourself out there and you will have the best time of your life!

University Church of St Mary, Oxford

 

My little escape to Oxford

Alexandra C., Bachelor of Law (Honours)/Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology)
Oxford Brookes University, England (Semester 2, 2017)

For semester two of 2017 I undertook an exchange to Oxford Brookes University in Oxford, England. Oxford is a beautiful city and is very well connected to London and Birmingham which is great if you’re planning on escaping to Europe throughout the semester. I would highly recommend taking a walking tour when you first arrive, especially if you are a Harry Potter fan, as many iconic scenes from the films were shot in Oxford. It is also a great way to get orientated with your new home as you can learn where the best shops and restaurants are.

In regards to accommodation, I stayed at Clive Booth Student Village, which is one of the on-campus colleges and is closest to the main campus, Headington. The college is divided into several blocks that all contain a number of connected flats, with each flat being shared by between five and six students. I would highly recommend applying for on campus accommodation as it is a great way to make friends very quickly and meet students not only from Oxford but from around the world.

One of the strengths of Oxford Brookes is their clubs and societies. Not only were they really easy to sign up to but all the students were incredibly welcoming and there was always a huge variety of events happening each week throughout the semester. The university also provided the opportunity to take part in weekend trips that took you to many of England’s infamous sites and cities for example, Stonehenge, Brighton and Bath.

Overall, my time in Oxford was an amazing experience and I would recommend anyone thinking about doing an exchange to take up the opportunity, you won’t regret it.

University Life at Leeds

Chelsie, M., Bachelor of Media and Communication
University of Leeds, England (Semester 1, 2018)

I recently completed an exchange program for one semester at the University of Leeds in Leeds, England. To say it was the best experience of my life is an understatement! I thoroughly enjoyed every part of my exchange, from the city, to the university; the people, to the night life.

My host university, University of Leeds, is one of the most prestigious and internationally recognised universities not only within the United Kingdom, but in the world. However, this does not mean that the students and teachers were pretentious, or that it was extremely strict – it was really quite the opposite! My lecturers, tutors and fellow class mates were all extremely friendly and were willing to help with anything I asked of them, which I am very appreciative of. Leeds is a student city, so it is always full of life and buzzing with activity!

The university itself was established in 1904, so as you can imagine, each building is grand with incredible architectural features. The most recent development to the campus is its student union, which, let me tell you, is probably the most important building a student can know about. Unlike Australian universities, there is an unspoken expectation that students participate in either a club or society. So much so, that it is the minority who do not join in on the student camaraderie. It is in The Union where most social activities for the clubs and societies occur, simply because it is the perfect place to hang out.

Incredible Architecture

There are three bars (which are super cheap and host quiz/trivia nights), a night club for the weekly Fruity events and occasional concerts (I saw Milky Chance there!), a grocery store, cafes, bean bags, lounges and SO much more! During my time there, I joined the hockey society and made so many friends and great memories. We had weekly hockey socials, training and games each week, so you definitely get to form a bond with your team mates! There is definitely a massive drinking culture in Leeds, as I found out when everyone continued to go out rain, hail or snow. 

For my accommodation, I spent the four months at Ellerslie Global Residence. I really enjoyed living here as it is basically on campus, only a 15 minute walk to the city and food is provided for you, so you don’t have to worry about grocery shopping or cooking. Having a catered meal plan is super ideal, especially if you plan on travelling every weekend, like I did.

Idyllic London Street

I could not recommend the University of Leeds any higher for a student exchange. If you are considering them for your time abroad, definitely apply. I can guarantee you will make lasting friendships and memories you will never forget!

The Ultimate Guide to the University of Leeds

Katie, Nichola and Molly – Inbound students to QUT
University of Leeds, England (Semester 1, 2019)

We may be biased, but we love the University of Leeds. It is rated one of the world’s top 100 Uni’s and is right in the middle of one of the UK’s most vibrant cities – what more could you want?! It’s part of the Russel Group (a group of UK universities than engage in intensive research) and so you can guarantee you’ll be in safe hands. In 2017, The Sunday Times voted Leeds the University of the Year, joining the award for 1st in student satisfaction in the UK. If the numerous awards and rankings are enticing you to consider an exchange here, keep reading our ‘Ultimate Guide to the University of Leeds’ for more information, from academia to nightlife – we’ve experienced it all!

Academia

The University of Leeds is one of the biggest and most acclaimed universities in the UK and is famous for its teaching and research – providing lots of different academic opportunities and ways of learning. You can study almost everything at Leeds including Medicine, Art, Law and everything in between.

Academic life at the University of Leeds is somewhat different in comparison to QUT. A full workload is 120 credits per year – the number of modules (this is what units are called in the UK) required to be studied varies between each faculty and unlike at QUT each module may be worth different credits. For example, there are 10 credit modules, available for just one semester or there are 20/30 credit modules which are studied for the full year. This means that you will find yourself studying more than the workload is required here at QUT – for the most part at least 6 modules per semester is the norm. This may seem like a lot, but all the modules offered at Leeds are truly interesting – there are both compulsory modules and discovery modules (depending on the faculty), so there really is something to suit everyone’s academic needs. For instance, I am a Law student and my very varied modules last year included – EU law, Criminal Law, Employment Law, Land Law, Torts Law and Constitutional.

Teaching at Leeds is also very different to my experiences at QUT – we have shorter, more frequent classes (most students live on to or very near to campus) so the timetable is a lot more full on. Lectures tend to be 50 minutes, supplemented by seminars, which can be anywhere from 1.5 hours to 2 hours or labs/tutorials for sciences. Classes run between 9am and 6pm – so the academic day is condensed into this.

Academic life at Leeds will keep you busy but it is always fun, engaging, practical and interesting but you will certainly still have time to explore the wonderful city of Leeds!

Parkinson Building – the most famous building on the Leeds campus and the location of Brotherton Library

 

Accommodation in Leeds

As an exchange student in Leeds, you are guaranteed University accommodation regardless of whether you are studying for one semester, or the whole year (as long as you apply before the deadline). There are both on and off campus options with varying layouts from shared bathrooms to en-suites. There is also choice of catered or self-catered options. You will have your own bedroom in a flat shared with other Leeds students. This means it is so easy to make friends as there are so many people around, both home and international students.

The view from Charles Morris Hall

Typical lounge at Mary Morris Halls of Residence

A basic membership to the on-campus gym, The Edge is Included if you stay in University accommodation too.

The Edge gym

There is information about each of the residences here: https://accommodation.leeds.ac.uk/residences

Alternatively, there is the option to live in private accommodation. Unipol is a charity which works with students to help you find suitable private accommodation. Hyde Park is an area a 10-15 minute walk away from  c ampus and is filled with students.

A typical house in Leeds

A typical street in Hyde Park

The Union

A huge part of my student life at Leeds is centred around the union, which you will automatically become a member of as a student at the uni. The University Union is a charity that is run for students by students, helping provide opportunities, help create change and really allow students to love their time at Leeds! Activities are run throughout the year, enabling you to have fun and try something new, including specialised events for international students. The building itself, which is right in the centre of campus, contains shops, bars, cafes, nightclubs and study areas, to name a few. It is also home to the 350 societies the university has on offer. From football to food and wine, as well as every course having its own society, there really is something for everyone!

The Union building, right in the heart of campus

I myself am part of Leeds Modern Dance Society, where weekly classes are held for all levels of ability in tap, jazz and contemporary. Dancing with this society really has completely enhanced my university experience, from weekly socials to all the different friends I have made, and so to have 350 societies to choose from, Leeds is pretty special! I’ve put some pictures below of the type of events held by societies, including competitions and weekly socials at bars and nightclubs. This part of Uni is quite different to QUT – there is a much bigger sense of community and much more emphasis to join as many societies as you can! Here’s a link to the union website so you can browse all the things it has on offer! https://www.luu.org.uk/

Modern Dance Society at Newcastle Dance
Competition in Feb 2018!

The annual dance show held in the Union!

 

The City and Social Life

Leeds is located in Northern England with great transport links to other parts of the country – only 2 hours from London and 3 from Edinburgh by train. There is also an airport close by where you can find cheap flights to Europe for the holidays, making it the perfect destination for your semester abroad!

The city itself is a vibrant, multi-cultural haven that will draw you in with its wide selection of shops, restaurants, music venues and nightclubs. There is always something going on and so you’ll never be bored, and because Leeds is such a cheap city, you’ll be able to take part on a budget! Despite the hustling bustling city being the location of most students’ free time, the Yorkshire countryside is also right on your doorstep and so you can easily visit beautiful country villages if you fancy a change of scene.

With multiple colleges and universities in Leeds the student population is HUGE! It’s very different to Brisbane student life, and sometimes it’s quite easy to forget that others’ lives there too (maybe don’t go shopping on a Saturday afternoon if you want to miss the mad family rush!). The city has adapted to the student body well, with so many facilities catering to student life.

Leeds is such a great city for a year abroad!

Leeds Trinity Shopping Centre – the biggest shopping centre in the city which is home to more than 120 national and international brands as well as cinema’s, bars and restaurants.

Leeds city centre – a haven of activities!

Ilkley Moor – a peaceful destination only 40 minutes away for
when you want to escape the busy city

We hope this has given you just a little idea about what life in Leeds is like. We truly love it there and hope this has inspired you to consider it as your study abroad option!

Hope to see you in Leeds sometime soon!

Katie, Nichola and Molly x

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.

A Semester at the University of Leeds and 73,705kms of Travel!

Shannon M., Bachelor of Education (Secondary)
University of Leeds, England (Semester 1, 2016)

I had an incredible time in Leeds.

Gibraltar – a British Overseas Territory off the southern coast of Spain

Living in Devonshire Hall was one of the best experiences. Considering I had not lived out of home before, this was the best place to do it knowing I had incredible support through the Leeds accommodation office as well as with the international students I was sharing my flat with. They were from all around the world, had different culture, opinions and ideas to me but we all seemed to share similar interests – to have a good time, study and travel when possible.

Italy

Czech Republic

 

 

 

 

 

 

I participated in The University of Leeds Gryphons Baseball Club, the Leeds community slow pitch softball ‘Dales’ Club and I represented Leeds in an international slow pitch softball tournament in Czech Republic with “The Terriers”. This allowed me to meet a different group of people to what I was experiencing in halls and at university and allowed me to get to know the Leeds community and the people within.

The beach in France

Stone Henge, England

The way of teaching and delivering information was exceptionally different at the University of Leeds which I believe was an important experience for me as a future teacher. I was able to receive education by different modes of communication, became aware of different teaching pedagogues in use, saw new ways of teachers facilitating knowledge through activities and was even introduced to different ways of providing feedback.

England

Germany

Ireland

As I’m a student majoring in English teaching I believe studying in-depth English literature modules in England was extremely beneficial towards my future career. As I minor in History I regularly visited historical sites across Europe including Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps in Poland, visited Jewish Synagogues in the Czech Republic, visited Jewish memorials around Europe and participated in Old Jewish Quarter walking tours in Germany. I believe experiences in these places has provided a new light and direction for my future lessons if I were employed to teach history.  In the future I will be able to provide my students the facts as well as personal thoughts and experiences while traveling on study abroad as a QUT student.

Wales

Poland

Austria

Malta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was accidentally homeless for a night in Ireland with 7 others, had my Iphone 6s and credit cards stolen from me in Germany, lived in questionable 30 bed hostel dorm rooms in Poland, explored numerous castles in England and Wales and even cruised across the Mediterranean (and more). I believe all of these experiences good and …not so good assisted in shaping the person I am now and will continue to shape me for the rest of my life.

Amsterdam

Spain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My exchange spanned 73705 km / 45800 miles and helped me catch an insatiable desire to travel. All the places I visited are featured throughout this post.

Taiwan – The Next Instalment

 

Trip to Taipei Prison

I wanted to call this one “Going to Prison on Exchange” but for fears of sounding too much like clickbait (and QUT probably wouldn’t be too much of a fan of the title.) I will just address it first in this next instalment of my Taiwan exchange.

It’s not as dramatic as it sounds but going to Taipei prison was as bizarre for us as it is to see in an exchange blog. Tuesday mornings I have a class called Workshop on Sustainability which primarily teaches Circular Economy and Corporate Social Responsibility. However, being all exchange students, the Professor takes the opportunity to focus and educate us on everything Taiwan. One week, with absolutely no link to course content, he took us to check out Taipei’s operating prison. We met earlier than normal and took a karaoke bus to the southern part of Taipei, in what was still a fairly urban built-up area.  We started off with a debrief from the warden, who spoke about the history and facilities. They have all sorts of prisoners there, staying from a few months up to life; it wasn’t a high security place but neither was it a light one. We were then told to leave all our stuff in the conference room and we began our tour. From inside it was hard to tell it was a prison, it really was designed to reintegrate people into a functioning society.

Workshop on Sustainability Pizza Party

Unless prisoners took school or university classes in the education centre, they worked on site in manufacturing, pottery, arts, or in catering. We even got to try some tea and biscuits you can order in bulk for catering, (and it really was quite good.) It was a rare and random experience to go to Taipei Prison, but that’s why Workshop on Sustainability is fast becoming one of the favourite subjects of my whole degree. Instead of mid-semester exams, we had a guest lecture from the ministry of education which was followed by a pizza party with him. Workshop on Sustainability is full of surprises.

 

Liya Farm, where we got to work planting rice!

NCCU has a heap of programs that aid in exposing exchange students to Taiwan. One of the student clubs called International Youth has hosted a welcome dinner, a day out exploring the Zoo and Gondola near the Uni, and a cooking and arts night. A highlight is a weekend trip to the east coast city, Yilan. Early Saturday morning we boarded the bus and travelled to our first destination, Linmei Shipan Trail, an absolutely stunning waterfall. We visited the National Centre for Traditional Arts before checking into (and completely booking out) the 5 Season Hotel and ate stinky tofu at Luo Tong Night Markets. The next day we had a traditional university student breakfast; Maccas, before heading to a rice farm. We learnt all about the traditional farms and also got to plant some rice in knee-deep mud.

Waiao Beach

We then also made our own lunch “from rice we’d grown earlier” grinding it down, mixing it up, and cooking it into noodles!  Post-lunch we hit up the beach, the light drizzle we’d had the entire day ceased with perfect timing. Waiao Beach is a black sand beach facing the great Pacific Ocean where we enjoyed some Bubble Tea (well the tea part, I’m still warming up to the bubbles.) The weekend was an extraordinary time, seeing awesome things and making a heap of new friends with other Internationals on exchange AND a stack of local students that came along!

 

 

As well as Uni organised sight-seeing, I have been on a few wild adventures of my own on the Brampcycle (that’s the name for my bike.) A weekend arrived that started on a Wednesday (thank you bulk public holidays.) I took this opportunity to take my first little riding trip and it was to a small city call Hualian. Located on the East Coast it was about five and a half hours ride away. I left as soon as class ended on Tuesday; my prediction was an ETA of around 6:30. Still a good hour away from arriving the sun began to set, which should be all well and good except for the fact that my headlights weren’t making any difference to the ever-darkening road. Eventually I pull over to sus things out and sure enough, my lights aren’t actually on at all…because the bulb is blown. Street lights aren’t exactly a thing on this regional mountainous road; in the dying light I have never ridden with so much stress in my life. I make it to the next town using another car’s tail lights to light my way. There I manage to find a workshop that was just closing and two very kind men helped me out and set me on my way. Eventually, I make it to Hualian (a lot later than expected) and check into my accommodation. I spent the next couple of days there seeing some of the most epic scenery so far! Taroko National park…my writing could never do justice to how beautiful and vast this gorge is. I also travelled up to HeHuanShan (Shan = Mountain) where I got to hike to an altitude of 3416m. Don’t be too impressed though – you start at 2900m. This is one of Taiwan’s 100 Great Mountains with a height over 3000m, and luckily for me, it’s the one you can do without the hassle of a permit.

HeHuanShan

Taiwan is so full of natural beauty and I really am so fortunate to be seeing as much as I am! The only downside is that every place I see and learn about comes with a strong recommendation of two more places that I then want to go see. I think the quote from Aristotle can easily also apply to traveling; “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”

 

 

 

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!