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.

The Next Instalment – Taiwan

 

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!

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!

 

My SUNY Oswego Adventure!

Bella J., Bachelor of Business/Creative Industries
State University of New York at Oswego, USA (Semester 1, 2017)

It’s hard to believe my SUNY Oswego adventure is over! The past two semesters have flown by, and it’s safe to say I’m so happy with my decision to study abroad at SUNY Oswego for a year. SUNY Oswego has really stolen my heart, to the point where I extended my exchange for another semester! I never expected to fall in love with a town in the middle of upstate New York but somehow I am the happiest I have ever been.

First day of classes with my Spanish room-mate, Ines.

Everyone on campus is so friendly and helpful, even though some beg to hear my Australian accent on demand. It’s so easy to make friends and be involved on campus, there is honestly something for everyone. Unlike at QUT, I am heavily involved on campus with my sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, internships and other clubs such as Del Sarte Dance and the social soccer team. There is never a moment to spare, there is ALWAYS something on!The college puts on many events, especially during the first few weeks of the semester. At most of these events you’ll find free fairy floss, popcorn, pretzels, photo booths, snow cones, bull riding, therapy dogs (yes, you heard right) and even build-a-bears.

I attend classes five days a week, which has probably been one of the biggest adjustments so far. I’m not going to lie; classes here are far easier than those at home. I’m a straight A student here at Oswego, and I can assure you I am far from that at home. Although classes are compulsory and participation is included within your final grade I really enjoy the teaching style here. I feel as though I am taking much more from the classes than I ever did at home as class sizes are relatively small and you get to know your professor very well.

Before I came to Oswego, one of the biggest concerns I had was what the food in the dining halls would be like. Let me tell you, they’re absolutely amazing!! Everything and anything you could ever want is on campus, it takes a lot of strength to resist over eating. The highlights so far in regards to food has to be the UNLIMITED ice cream parlor at Cooper dining hall or the chocolate milk on tap. You can request wraps to be made for you, omelets, pizza, stir fry’s, etc. You name it, they have it!

Another one of my absolute favourite things about SUNY Oswego is Lake Ontario. SUNY Oswego sits right on Lake Ontario which separates the United States from Canada. Here you will find some of the most breathtaking sunsets you will have ever experienced. During the beginning of the fall semester (August) I would bring my homework to the lake and soak in the sun for hours after my classes were done for the day. It’s a great place to hang out with friends, take a dip in the water and just simply relax!

In front of Lake Ontario!

Although Oswego is approximately five hours from New York City, we are so close to little treasures unable to be found anywhere else in the world. We’re just a short drive from some beautiful national parks, Niagara Falls and the Canadian border for those interested in venturing up north! Close by there is Ontario Orchards, the Bluffs and Bevs Ice Cream just to name a few. Oswego town and Syracuse also offers some cute stores and eateries.

I originally lived in Scales Hall, one of the older buildings on campus but transferred to Onondaga Hall due to my decision to stay an additional semester (and Scales was closing for renovations in the spring). I now live in a suite on the tenth floor (a suite generally has three bedrooms with six people living in the room). The six suite mates share a lounge room and bathroom, which I much prefer over my original accommodation where 20 people share a communal bathroom. My room also has a stunning view of the lake, and my new room mate is one of my very best friends and sorority sisters! Another great thing about Onondaga (commonly referred to as Daga) is that there is a gym, dining hall and computer lab located in the basement.

Ines and I in front our building, Scales Hall

My dorm room was also much bigger than I initially expected, I had two sets of draws, a desk, bed, mirror, lamp and wardrobe.

Yes, you heard right.. I joined a sorority!. Sigma Delta Tau is one of four national sororities on campus. I was lucky enough to join this sisterhood during the fall 16 semester, and can honestly say it’s one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I now have 45 beautiful new best friends and memories to last a lifetime. These girls continue to shower with me with love and support and I could not be more grateful for them taking me in and making me always feel so at home.

Initiation day at Sigma Delta Tau!

Before I finish… prepare yourself for the snow. Coming from the sunny Gold Coast, snow is not a common sighting so this day was super special! The fact I had never seen snow really excited and shocked some of my friends.  I made a snowman, snow angel and even had a snowball fight. Another great thing about snow is snow days! We were blessed with a snow day due to the wild wind and snow covered roads in the Fall semester but surprisingly not in the Spring…  I had never experienced such cold weather in my life. Being on Lake Ontario, Oswego experiences ‘Lake Effect’ weather due to the wind. So rug up and prepare yourself if you’re heading there during the spring semester.

Building a snowman at SUNY Oswego.

I could not be happier with my decision to study abroad for a semester at SUNY Oswego. I have already made so many special memories and life long friends I will treasure forever. I am absolutely devastated to leave this place but know I will definitely be back soon. If you have any questions at all about SUNY Oswego, please email me (bellajackson@hotmail.com.au). I would be more than happy to help. I could talk about this place for hours! You can also follow me on Instagram (@bellajackson) to follow my adventures!

A snapshot into the experiences of an exchange student studying in Hong Kong

It is hard to believe that mid-term exams are over and it is already week 9 of my exchange semester at City University of Hong Kong (CityU). The experience continues to exceed all expectations and time is fleeting. Here is a preview into some of the things I have done over the last month:

‘Best Practices in Community Legal Education’ Conference I had the privilege of volunteering at the Street Law in Asia: “Best Practices in Community Legal Education” Conference held at Hong Kong University. The conference co-hosted by Hong Kong University Law, Pennsylvania State University, Monash Law & Centre for Comparative & Public Law. I was a student volunteer and conference delegate. I collaborated with lawyers, law professors & philanthropists from 11 countries to discuss how Street Law can promote access to justice through learner-centered education.

Deloitte Digital Asia Pacific Block Chain Lab
I participated in a workshop hosted by Deloitte Digital from the Asia Pacific Block Chain Lab. I thoroughly enjoyed the consultants’ presentations and the opportunity to discuss how Deloitte provides cutting edge Blockchain/AI solutions and other technological innovations to address the most challenging contemporary business problems.

Future Path of Cashless Society in Hong Kong
I also attended the ‘Future Path of Cashless Society in Hong Kong’ forum hosted by the CityU MBA. I was particularly impressed to hear Tencent Holdings Limited Vice-President, Jim Zhiming Lai, discuss how businesses need to be innovative by providing FinTech solutions. The other speakers included China Chengxin Credit Ratings Company Limited Chairman, Philip Li, Blue Prism APAC Advisory Board, Matthew Lee & Bank of China Senior Economist, Ricky Choi.

 

Incredible culinary experiences
The food in Hong Kong is diverse and delicious. Some of my favourite food locations include:
Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market
The Aberdeen Fish Market is the longest-running and largest fish market in Hong Kong. The Aberdeen Seafood restaurant is a hidden local gem: operated by fisherman for fisherman (but also open to the public). You purchase your seafood directly from the market and take it to the restaurant. The cook prepares meals based on what seafood you provide them. We had a variety of steamed fish with soy & chilli, fried salt & pepper shrimp, grilled squid in sweet sauce and sautéed vegetables.

One Dim Sum
Just two minutes from Prince Edward Station, One Dim Sum is a delicious local dim sum restaurant. The menu has a large selection and it is very affordable. Some of the most memorable 
dishes include the Steam Minced Beef Ball and Siew Mai.

Mankee Cart Noodle
Mankee offers delicious cart noodles in Sham Shui Po.
 Due to its popularity, there tends to be a rather long queue. So, while you wait you are handed the menu on a laminated sheet and you circle what toppings, noodles and broth you want with a marker. I ordered the beef broth with chive & pork dumplings, thick-cut noodles and house spicy sauce. It was so tasty. I highly recommend Mankee Cart Noodle!

I have some other very exciting opportunities and events to look forward to in the upcoming weeks! For example, the Joint University Case Competition (JUCC) where I will represent CityU and compete against the top business schools in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Rugby 7’s!
From sipping espresso martinis at a rooftop bar and looking over a sea of skyscrapers to hiking to a cliff edge, there are so many opportunities to explore in Hong Kong. I can’t wait to see what else is in store!

 

 

 

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!

A road map to my first month as an Exchange Student at City University of Hong Kong

My name is Emma Cockburn and I am a 4th year Bachelor of Laws (Honours)/ Bachelor of Business (Economics) undertaking an exchange semester at City University of Hong Kong.

The first month of my semester exchange at City University of Hong Kong has been one of adventure and learning! I was very fortunate to receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant. The New Colombo Plan is a signature initiative of the Australian Government which aims to lift knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia by supporting Australian undergraduates to study in the region.

The Montane Mansion Building

Where do you live?
The student residential halls are the ideal form of on-campus accommodation. I am in Sir Gordon and Lady Ivy Wu Hall (Hall 9). My roommate is an exchange student from Sydney and we share a bathroom with two Canadian exchange students from Queens University. There is a gym and canteen within the student residence. If you have space in your suitcase it is a good idea to bring your own bedding. I highly recommend applying for the student residential halls as it is by far the cheapest form of accommodation and provides a great opportunity to meet other students and get involved in Hall activities. The Halls are highly sort after by international and domestic students so I would advise to apply as soon as registration is open!

CityU Student Residential Halls

What should I get involved in?
There are so many opportunities to get involved at CityU. Taking advantage of these opportunities will enrich your exchange experience. To find out what is happening you should check your CityU email, look at the notice boards on campus and ask other students.

Clubs, Societies & Workshops
I was selected in the English-Speaking Debating Team and Business Proposal and Competition Club. I will be representing the university at an international debating competition in Macau next month! The College of Business host a range of free workshops. I have attended three of the Career & Leadership Development Programme sessions. In these sessions, I learnt how to create a powerful CV and cover letter to demonstrate your passion, leadership potential, and key competencies such as teamwork, interpersonal communication, problem solving, and business acumen.

Inter-hall Basketball Competition
I was selected in the inter-hall Women’s Basketball Competition. The team is comprised of local and international students. My team progressed to the semi-finals. We were narrowly defeated by Hall 7 who won the grand final. I really enjoyed participating in the inter-hall basketball competition. Each semester they host different inter-hall competitions, such as table tennis and athletics. I would absolutely recommend trialling for a team!

Inter-hall Basketball Competition

CityU International Case Competition Team
Drawing on the training and my experience competing in the QUT Business School International Case Competitions Team, I have worked collaboratively with the academic advisor and taken an active leadership role in developing students in the recently established CityU International Case Competition Team.

Model United Nations Conference
I attended the CityU Model United Nations conference. This conference hosted international and domestic university students from across Hong Kong. I participated in the Social and Economic Council as the delegate for Russia. In this council, we discussed the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis and political relief. After two days of diplomacy, advocacy and heated debate, we proposed a draft resolution and I was humbled to be awarded Best Delegate.

CityU Model United Nations conference awarded Best Delegate

Where should I eat?
There is a huge variety of food available in Hong Kong. The on-campus canteens provide more affordable options, a meal will cost about $5AUD. Western food tends to be more expensive. Each Hall floor has its own kitchen so you can cook food. I have been making oats and bananas for breakfast and cooking brown rice and broccoli for lunches (luckily my roommate brought a rice cooker). I have been using the free sauces available at the canteens. Things like peanut butter and Nutella are expensive so if you would like to bring some with you I would recommend doing that! There are so many great food options and the local street food is also delicious.   

What else is there to do in and around Hong Kong?
Hiking
There are the most amazing hiking trails in Hong Kong. For example, I have hiked Devil’s Peak, Lion Rock, Ng Tung Chai and the Peak. The scenery ranges from peaks overlooking skyscrapers, incredible sunsets, waterfalls with dense rainforest and beaches. It is truly beautiful.

Sunset Hike at Devil’s Peak

Travel
Hong Kong is a great base to travel around Asia. A lot of exchange students travel to places such as Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Cambodia and Thailand. Luckily, I have classes Tuesday through Thursday so I always have a long weekend. So far, I have travelled to Vietnam and I have a trip planned to go to Shenzhen in China.

Kayaking in Halong Bay, Vietnam

I have been enjoying getting to know the local people and culture. The juxtaposition between the colourful housing estates, mountain peaks and modern skyscrapers is breathtaking. There is never a dull moment in Hong Kong. I look forward to what else is in store!

A video of my first week as an exchange student at City University of Hong Kong