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

My life in Kassel and Germany

Jeng-Han Lu, Master of Information Technology

Short-term program: Hessen University “Hessen International Summer University – Kassel”

Germany (June/July 2018)

In the semester break between SEM-1 and SEM-2 in 2018, I was fully immersed in German culture, thanks for the International Summer University (Kassel). Although the time was short, it may have been the best travel experience of my life.

The course I selected was the two seminars under the cultural module: Intercultural Communication and German Fairy Tale. Composed with various activities, we started from the definition of culture to how different cultures interact with each other. One of my favorite activities was a role playing game about collaboration between two cultures. The whole class was divided into a group of villagers and engineers, each group had follow their own custom. The goal of the game is to learn how to communicate with people with of different cultures or customs, and complete the task. Although it was challenging at the beginning, finally we worked out some ways to build a “bridge”. I believe this seminar will greatly help people who wish to work in a multicultural environment.

As an iconic city because of the stay of the Brothers Grimm, studying their fairy tales at Kassel became so immersive. The seminar contained both indoor classes and excursions. The indoor classes provided a brief introduction of the Grimm’s fairy tales, including lives of the Brothers Grimm, their motives of writing the fairy tales and other background knowledge. There are two excursions in this seminar: Brauhaus Knallhütte and Grimmwelt Kassel. Brauhaus Knallhütte was once the inn where the Grimms collected many folk tales from the innkeeper’s daughter, Dorothea Viehmann. We had a fantastic lecture in this historical place and enjoyed traditional German courses and beer. Another excursion to Grimmwelt was also amazing. As a museum of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Grimmwelt indicates the achievements of the brothers, including the fairy tales and German Dictionary. The interactive equipment also takes visitors into the world of the fairy tales.

Museum of Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Brauhaus Knallhütte was once the inn where the Grimms collected many folk tales from the innkeeper’s daughter.

One of the most impressive culture shocks was that German people are very willing to help visitors. On the second last day in Germany, I took a train from Kassel to Frankfurt and stayed overnight for the next day’s flight. When the train approached Giessen, it slowed down earlier than expected. Then, the train stopped at a small station and the train conductor spoke to the travellers. Suddenly everyone stood up and started leaving the train. Luckily, the man next to me told me that we must leave the train now. After departing the train, the man asked the conductor about what is going on and how to continue to Frankfurt. Then, we took the same bus to the next station, caught the additional train, and finally managed to reach Frankfurt with a 1-hour delay. Honestly, the man had no responsibility to help a foreign traveller, but he wished to spend part of his attention to help a stranger. During my visit to Germany I was helped by many volunteering German people, including a ticket checker on the train (she told us to change wagons because the train would split at the next station) and bikers on the street of Kassel (he told us the correct platform to wait for our tram). So next time, don’t be afraid to ask German people for help!

Don’t be afraid to ask German people for help!

All in all, I strongly encourage QUT students to apply for this program. The summer university provided a comprehensive experience of Germany in all aspects. You will stay will German host families and having traditional German food. Moreover, you stay with host families or explore other places in Germany on weekends or day offs. Last but not the least, you will meet other international students from all around the world!

Getting Creative in Glasgow

Anna Banszel, Bachelor of Design (Architecture) 

Short-term Program: University of Glasgow ‘Scottish Urban Landscapes in Film and Glass’

Scotland (July 2018)

While Brisbane shivered this winter I was over in sunny Britain studying Scottish Urban
Landscape in Film and Glass at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA). This intense
one-week course combined research with technical experience in the renowned
photography and glass workshops at the GSA.

Through my research I discovered that Glasgow has been settled since prehistoric
times and rapidly expanded during the 16th century when traders and craftspeople
converged in the city. Glasgow still maintains that legacy of quality of craftsmanship,
with the GSA being an exemplar of world-class art education.

On day one and two I learnt 35mm photography. With a camera provided by the
university I roamed the gritty streets of Glasgow capturing moments of urbanity in
one of the most beautiful and diverse cities I have ever experienced. Developing my
film in the dark rooms was both technically and creatively challenging. There is a lot of
scope for creative expression after the film is shot. In making my prints from my
negatives I experimented with exposure and filter to get the results I was after.

Photography lab.

For days three to five we moved into the glass studios to learn glass art. The
photographs I developed on my first two days informed the design of my bespoke
stained glass panel. In this studio I learnt how to design my panel, cut the glass,
solder the lead, apply the putty between the lead and glass and paint the glass.

Glass art studio.

On the last day all the international students were invited to a gathering were we
met other students and saw the work people had produced. All the staff at GSA
were really friendly and approachable. Though it’s part of huge university the vibe
at the GSA is more like a boutique studio run by artists who value collaboration and
push the creative boundaries.

Glass and photos.

Before I took this course, I’ll admit Glasgow was never on my list of places to see. I
had been to Edinburgh and the Scottish highlands and considered Scotland ticked
off my travel list. Big mistake – Glasgow is brilliant! If you’re after culture it’s home
to fine institutions like the Scottish Ballet, if you want a social atmosphere head to
the West End and explore the bars. If you want history there are loads of museums
and if fancy gardens the Glasgow Botanic Gardens can take a whole day to
explore. It doesn’t get dark till after 10pm either, so you can take your time. One of
my favourite nights out was seeing Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in the
Botanic Gardens for five pounds.

Glasgow skyline.

Glasgow university.

I stayed at the GSA accommodation where I had my own ensuite room. It was
modern and clean with a shared kitchen with all the facilities needed to cook meals.
With so many places to eat out I only really used the kitchen for breakfasts but if I’d
been there for longer I would have been cooking up a storm. Washing machines
were also available for laundry, it was five minutes walk from the studios and
staffed until 7pm every day. Price of living is similar to Australia. For lunch I usually
went to a convenience store and got a sandwich or salad for about $5 AUD. Once I
was in Glasgow I walked everywhere, or took a black cab if it was late at night.
Getting to Glasgow from London or Edinburgh is easiest by rail and prices are
lower if you book online in advance.

My experience at GSA differed from my experience at QUT in that GSA was all
studio based. Other than that it was similar – we learnt the techniques, studied the
context and worked from a design brief under the guidance of our tutors.

If I could offer advice to anyone considering taking this course is to go with an open
mind and willingness to push yourself creatively. I’d also recommend you give
yourself a few days either side of your course to explore the city and meet some
locals. I extended my trip to three weeks to visit London and Copenhagen. It was
great to have that down time to balance the trip with work and play.
My only complaint about this course was that it wasn’t long enough!

Me in London.

Studying and Travelling in Japan

Hello again,

Instead of discussing general things about Japan this entry I thought I would detail specifically what studying and travelling within Japan is like. So, this entry will be more interesting to those who want to know more about these two aspects of Japan.

I must admit that studying Japanese has been very difficult. It’s a far more complicated language than I first expected. For example: symbols known as ‘kanji’ can have multiple meanings depending upon the context that they are used within and words that are pronounced the same can have different meanings depending on context and intonations. But, as an exchange student, I have found that work loads are not particularly strenuous and I have very few major assessments. However, this does depend on how good you are at Japanese as friends of mine studying at higher levels seem to have quite intense work loads.

Furthermore, a typical university week will generally involve 5 days of classes. You may get lucky and only receive 4 days, but this is a rare occurrence. Also, you must attend the majority of these classes (at least at my university, Ritsumeikan) otherwise you will fail; but don’t worry, you would have to skip a lot of classes for this situation to become a reality.

Unfortunately, as a result of this, opportunities to travel are limited and can often only be done on weekends. This is what I have done through out my stay here and it has worked out fairly well and has undoubtedly been worth the hassle. However, this means that in order to see all the places I wish to see I have to be as economical as possible with my travel and, unfortunately, travelling in Japan can be very expensive. In particular, the Shinkansens (or bullet trains) are outrageously expensive (but I must say, very convenient). So, for travel, I have been taking overnight buses to all locations. Although these are admittedly very uncomfortable they are cheap (the most important factor of all), especially when you buy a Willer Bus Pass, which is available for all foreigners entering Japan. This link provides all the information you need about the pass: willerexpress.com/st/3/en/e3/buspass/.

I hope that this information will prove to be important to those who are considering an exchange to Japan and if anyone who reads this has any questions about studying and travelling in Japan please leave a comment and I’ll answer it as soon as I can.

Till then, Sayoonara.

P.S. make sure you visit Japan in Autumn so that you can see sights such as this:

 

Beginning Exchange Semester at Korea University

As part of the New Colombo Plan (NCP) scholarship, I completed a three-week Korean language intensive program at Yonsei University in Seoul before undertaking a semester exchange at Korea University (KU). At the end of my studies I undertook internships with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Tokyo and Herbert Smith Freehills in Seoul.

My time at South Korea was extraordinary. I arrived in winter and was able to enjoy a totally different climate to Brisbane. Just after I moved into the dormitories at KU we had a week of snow – which I thoroughly enjoyed. I then spent the last few weeks of winter taking advantage of the snow season skiing on the slopes of nearby Jisan Resort.

(First snowfall since moving to KU)

KU is an excellent university, offering a diverse range of subjects to exchange students taught by encouraging lecturers and support staff. During my time at KU I studied International Economic Law, Korean History & Culture, International Organisations, International Dispute Settlement, and I completed additional Korean language classes. KU has an encouraging atmosphere, allowing students to connect and gain an appreciation of Korean culture.  KU’s buddy program includes at least three social events held every week. I’ve found this to be a great way to meet other students and participate in activities that I ordinarily wouldn’t.

(Dressing in the traditional Hanbok 한복)

Additionally, KU’s rivalry with Yonsei University results in many events that the whole university participates in, including Ipselenti which is held in May and the Korea University vs. Yonsei University tournament. These are wonderful opportunities to get involved in the KU community, indulge in unique street food and practice university chants (including the infamous Yonsei Chicken song every KU student learns during orientation week).

For my semester exchange at KU I decided to apply for dormitory accommodation. There are two main dormitories. I was fortunate enough to stay at CJ International House. This dorm is more geared towards international students. There were three types of apartments available and you may end up in a single, double, or quad room. All apartments have ensuites and each floor has two kitchens available. I was lucky enough to live in an apartment on the sixth floor that had four single rooms, two ensuites and a living room.

(My dorm room in CJ International House)

I used my free time to explore Seoul and travel around Korea. If you find yourself in the region, I would highly recommend looking into a temple stay and taking a trip down to Busan or Jeju Island. Busan is a coastal city in the bottom right corner of Korea and is easily accessible by train from Seoul Station. I thoroughly enjoyed the difference in atmosphere and architecture between Seoul and Busan – plus I had a chance to have the live octopus dish!

(At Amnam Park in Busan)

Month 1 – Done and Dusted!

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

A Cultural Explosion – My first few weeks in Hong Kong

Regina Collins

Bachelor of Law (Honours)/Bachelor of Media and Communication

Hong Kong Baptist University (Semester 2, 2018)

你好 (Nǐ hǎo) or Hello!

My name is Regina Collins and I’m in my third year of studying a Bachelor of Law (Honours)/Bachelor of Media and Communication at QUT. I have just started my Semester Exchange at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) here in Hong Kong and it’s hard to believe it’s already been a month since I began this journey.

Hong Kong as an exchange destination is everything I hoped it would be – a true explosion of culture. No matter where you’re from, I believe that Hong Kong has a place for you and the rich variety of culture is what makes living here such a fascinating and eye-opening experience. I decided when applying for the QUT Study Abroad program that I wanted to live in an entirely new culture unlike anywhere I’ve lived before. And while I will say that Hong Kong has fit that description, there is a certain similarity to Australian culture that make this place instantly feel like a second home.

Adjusting to living in a sleepless city like Hong Kong did take a few days. By the end of week one, I had mastered the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) system and using my Octopus Card (which is, in a lot of ways, similar to that of a Go-Card in Queensland). I can now also navigate around my campus neighbourhood, know where the cheapest place to buy groceries is, and have a basic understanding of Hong Kong Currency in comparison to the Australian Dollar.

Having been here for a month now, I can definitely say I’m making the most of this incredible experience. A few of my favourite journeys so far have been catching the tram up to Victoria Peak, navigating through the Ladies’ Market in Mong Kok, taking the cable car up to the Big Buddha on Lantau Island, and of course, Hong Kong Disneyland.

Through this, I have formed memories with so many incredible people from around the world and began what I hope to be lifelong friendships.

At the end of the day, I still like l have so much to explore on this exchange and I look forward to seeing what else this beautiful, vibrant and cultural city has to offer. I intend to keep learning and thriving in such a unique environment and I’m so grateful to QUT and NCP for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime.

希望再次见到你 (Xīwàng zài jiàn dào nǐ) or Hope to see you again soon!

This student’s exchange is supported by funding from the Australian government’s New Colombo Plan

A Nordic Adventure: Arriving in Norway

 

When I finally arrived in Norway after months of research and excitement I realised three things very quickly. These were that; yes, there are teslas everywhere, yes, basically everyone speaks flawless English, and yes, everything really is that expensive. But as I spent 3 days exploring the Nordic capital Oslo, attempting to put my duo lingo to use I knew exchange in Norway was about to be one of, if not the most incredible thing I have ever done.

Oslo is a beautiful and exciting city but after months of build-up and a month of living out of a backpack, I was so ready to finally start my exchange. So it wasn’t an issue to wake up at 4 am on pick up day to catch my bus down south to Norway’s 5th biggest city, Kristiansand, home of Universitet i Agder (UiA) and my home for the next four months!

The bus ride through Norway’s famed countryside only continued to add to my excitement. On arrival in Kristiansand ‘buddies’ from the Erasmus student network were there to greet me and drive me to my accommodation. They set me up with my welcome pack promising a full schedule of social events and university orientation. And full hardly begins to describe the first two weeks.

From dinners and hikes to festivals and house parties, study start weeks could not have set me up for a better semester and I don’t believe a place have made me feel more welcome. Before I arrived I had a few concerns when I realised really how small Kristiansand and UiA are in comparison to Brisbane and QUT, but these concerns have not arisen since being here. In fact, despite being expensive, Kristiansand is the ideal student town. Tight-knit with small-town charm but all the necessities of a student city. In fact, Norway is said to be one of the most student-friendly countries in the world. Meal deals across town, free entry days to the local galleries, museums and even the water park as well as free student cruise trips to Denmark. These are just a few of the things a student card can get you in Kristiansand.

So far Norway has offered a very different university experience but it one I am so excited to experience fully. The people I have met in just the first few weeks already offer me new perspectives and I believe I have already learned and grown so much! I am so excited for what is in store for the rest of my Nordic adventure.