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 :’)

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!

 

Two Semesters in Nice, France

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

EDHEC Business School campus in Nice

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

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

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

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

Cairns to Coldest Town in United States

Ruaela R., Bachelor of Science
Clarkson University, USA (Semester 1, 2017)

Balancing full-time study and a heavy work schedule, I found time running away from me. Thus, it was almost a shock that I found myself on Exchange at Clarkson University in Upstate New York, just below Montreal. I had submitted all my exchange documents and received my Visa, but left little brain time to process that I was actually going to be boarding a plane to the other side of the world. The day before my departure to the States, I threw my warmest clothes into a suitcase, downloaded some bookmarked reads onto a kindle, shoved my headphones, sketchpad and laptop into a backpack, checking twice for my important documents, and reflected with disdain on why I thought going to literally the coldest town the United States for winter was a good idea.

I arrived in the States a few weeks early to fit in some travel before my course started, the units that matched up with my study plan were cancelled due to lack of interest. Panicking, yet emboldened by my newfound skills on a snowboard, I started firing emails at my exchange university and managed to land myself a spot in their research semester program. Instead of the suburban spot beneath the Rustbelt, I was going to be living off campus doing an Environmental Policy Minor and big data Integrated Research Project in the Adirondacks, a 6-million-acre park preserve and conservation project. It was 9 students living full time in a house, with the garage as our classroom, on the side of a lake in a town with a population only just pushing 5000.

New York State is NOT New York City, and can’t just wear cute outfits, and strut your way to dumplings and prosecco, as previously thought.

Doing Clarkson’s Integrated Research Project was interesting. Despite a 15 credit-hour course, I was in the classroom for 38 hours a week, from 9am-5pm on top of study, readings and assignments. You also had to go to class- crazy! There was none of QUT’s recorded lecture magic, and mental breaks, or days off for life errands. If you wanted to miss even a half day of class, you had to have proper reasoning. I was disappointed in myself for getting 7’s on my pass/fail semester, but with the temperature being -20 Celsius outside and being secluded in the park, there was nothing else to do but freeze or study.

Living in the massive Adirondack Park and doing research meant that I got to have incredible experiences. I got to partake in longitudinal data studies, which meant becoming well versed in the winter ecology, and doing 2 mile walks in snow shoes documenting animal tracks around the frozen lakes. In another class I had to walk 300 meters out onto the ice of a lake, and drill 6 inches through the compact to collect zoo plankton. I got to study the philosophy and art inspired by the Adirondacks, and winter camp for 3 days in -20 degrees with only peanut butter, apples and spam to eat. My true delight was the two months after the course that I spent living out of the back of a friends car, camping and polar plunging in all the forests along the West Coast.

I think we are meant to romanticize exchange. We are expected to come back having had a glorious time, feeling euphoric having had epiphanies. My exchange was actually a true test of my mental health, capacity and tolerance. But I got through it, and I think there is a lot of merit in that in itself. I think everyone who can do exchange, should, even if it is just to throw yourself into a crazy time for a while.

 

 

 

 

 

Be adventurous in Hong Kong!

Julian L., Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
City University of Hong Kong (CityU), England (Semester 1, 2018)

Hi! I’m Julian, a 4th year mechanical engineering student, and I have spent my last year in Hong Kong! I flew into Hong Kong in July 2017, and began a month of intensive Cantonese training under the New Colombo Plan Scholarship. This was an amazing first opportunity to really immerse myself in Hong Kong’s unique culture and learn to do life the local way. I lived with a friend in the district called Jordan (佐敦) for my first month – an older area of Hong Kong that has amazing food and wet markets, and rarely sees tourists stopping by.

In August 2017, I finished up my Cantonese training and started my first semester at the City University of Hong Kong, more colloquially known as CityU or 城大, “seng daai.” Located in Kowloon Tong, despite its name, it’s actually quite far from the Hong Kong city centre, and is close to Hong Kong’s New Territories. It couldn’t have been in a better location though – it was a short walk from the start of the famous Lion’s Rock hike, had easy direct access to the hundreds of mountains for countless amazing weekend hikes, but also had direct access down the train line to Hong Kong Island, where the real hustle-bustle and action happens.

I chose CityU because of its similarity to QUT. CityU also had humble beginnings as a technical college and has a similar age to QUT, and because of these reasons, it was rooted in learning by practice and industry exposure. Unlike most exchange students, learning the subject content meant a great deal to me, as it was a huge opportunity to learn about sustainability and environmental management – a study area that QUT lacks and CityU specialises in. Study at CityU was exactly what I expected and wanted – many of my lecturers were full-time sustainability and environmental consultants, and taught university courses and did research all part-time. This was amazing because it really gave me huge insight into an exciting industry in Hong Kong. Students worked much harder at CityU in my degree than engineering students at QUT, and this is a strong reflection of Hong Kong’s stringent university admissions process.

Living at CityU was an interesting experience. Students are very often paired to share room with either another student from their home university, or from Australia, and therefore both semesters I sadly had Australian roommates, as much as I wanted to have a local student roommate. Student residence is also the cheapest accommodation in Hong Kong, at around AU$1000 for the entire semester, while the cheapest place off-campus you can find is normally around AU$1000-$2000 per month! For this reason, getting into student residence in Hong Kong universities is extremely competitive, and I encourage any students applying to universities in Hong Kong to do their residence application within the first half hour the application opens.

Many exchange students find it extremely difficult to make local friends, and on-campus, there are 4 clear distinctions in social groups: local Hong Kong students, Mainland Chinese students, international full-time students (mostly from other parts of Asia), and exchange students. I spent my first semester in the exchange student bubble, hiking every mountain in Hong Kong and ticking off every possible touristy activity there is. In my second semester, however,I wanted a different experience, and really pushed myself to make friends with my local classmates and this was the best decision I ever made. I was introduced to a side of Hong Kong and a perspective that was in stark contrast to my first semester impression.

Beyond my two semesters at CityU, I am now spending my weekdays still in Hong Kong, but now working full-time at an engineering consultancy, and spending my weekends hiking with friends and eating Hong Kong’s wonderful food.

My biggest piece of advice with going on exchange to Hong Kong is to be adventurous and dare yourself to be uncomfortable. There’s so so much more to exchange than alcohol and partying – dare yourself to gnaw on those chicken feet, dare yourself to haggle for your 10 bok choys in Cantonese and dare yourself to meet those people you never thought you could meet.

I do actually have other clothes, but my QUT instant-dry shirt was perfect for hiking.

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!

Making the most out of my Mannheim Exchange

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

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

University Life

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

Education

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

Accommodation

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

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

BBQ at Ulmenweg

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

Cost of Living

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

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

Tips and Advice

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An artists perspective into San Jose State University

Christina B., Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual Arts)
San Jose State University, USA (Semester 1, 2017)

Women’s March, 21 January 2017

Located in downtown San Jose, SJSU is part of a diverse local community. Being in the heart of Silicon Valley, tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Netflix have their headquarters nearby; there are large Hispanic and Vietnamese populations, with a great variety of restaurants and cultural celebrations on offer. Additionally, the progressive nature of the Bay Area results in lots of protests and community-organized events.

Accommodation 

My home during exchange with resident cat Sabrina

San Francisco is a little over an hour away by train and there are great hiking opportunities in redwood forests and open space preserves just a 30 minute drive away. Studying at SJSU gave me insight to both American college culture and Californian and the US life at large. I decided to live in a share-house off campus (to save a lot of money compared to on-campus housing and to have more independence), which meant I had even greater exposure to the day-to-day happenings in downtown San Jose.

Education

My exchange was part of a Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts) program and the facilities and technical tuition available at SJSU were outstanding! They have a wood-shop, metal-casting foundry, glass hotand cold shops, ceramics studio and jewelry lab… amongst many other facilities.

Friends from glassblowing with our work!

The teaching style was very different to at QUT: attendance was graded; there was no separation between lecture and practical time as the same professor taught both across the same session; contact hours were high; and the coursework was more structured and broken down into many small projects, which was ideal for learning a variety of new technical skills.

Experience

One highlight during my time on exchange was having a solo exhibition in one of the student galleries on campus. I negotiated an independent project with one of my professors and built a ten and a half foot tall sculpture for an installation. (Side note – becoming familiar with imperial units versus the metric system took some getting used to!)

A friend helping document my exhibition in Gallery 3 at SJSU

Student exhibition openings occurred on Tuesday nights from 6-9pm, immediately after a public talk by a visiting artist. The openings were a great way to network, catch up with friends, check out current art at SJSU and supplement one’s diet! The exhibition really increased my confidence in showing my work.

With friends after filming a performance work

Through studying at SJSU I gained a lot of wonderful friends, professional contacts and skills in art. Being situated in a new environment, I gained a new perspective about Australian culture and myself, as well as learning about American culture in all its diversity.