My Irish Pot of Gold: Part 2

Elizabeth B., Bachelor of Business/Creative Industries
University College Dublin, Ireland (Semester 1, 2017)

A three-day road trip around the east coast of Ireland

If I could give any advice it would be to take advantage of every opportunity, and learn to say ‘yes’ to everything, especially things that are out of your comfort zone. This
is where some of my best experiences began, including exchange. This
means travelling with people you may not know very well, and doing trips that you may not normally think of doing. For me one of the best things was going over
with a very loose plan! Don’t be afraid to have very little planned before you leave, including a return date because I was able to travel with friends I met on exchange afterwards, and I was glad that I did not have a huge amount that I had committed to prior to leaving.

Lisbon, Portugal

While in Ireland I tried my best to learn (a very small) amount of Gaelic through some of my Irish friends, which is an incredibly hard language to learn. It was
fascinating learning about the Irish culture, and really getting to know some Irish people, and where they come from. While it can be difficult to meet Irish students while abroad, I was fortunate to meet quite a few Irish students through my external accommodation. I also found doing social sport was a good way to meet Irish students. I was a part of the social netball team while in Ireland, and was fascinated to find out that Netball is not a widely known sport in Ireland. There was only one team on campus and half the team consisted of Australian or New Zealand exchange students. I was incredibly lucky to be able to completely immerse myself in Irish culture, and experience life living and
studying in another country, which gave me a completely different experience to what I would have got being a tourist. Reflecting on my time in Ireland, while I visited some pretty incredible places, I wish I had focused a bit more of my travels around Ireland, and attempted to visit more pubs. I only went on four trips around Ireland, which meant there was a lot of the country I didn’t see such as the cliffs of Moher. I will definitely have to make a trip back to Ireland soon!

Finally, I would definitely recommend going on exchange to anyone considering it. It is a once in a lifetime experience, and you will grow so much, meet some incredible people and experience some life-changing events and opportunities. While I am nearing the end of my degree, this trip has made me realise my potential and has made me eager to plan my next trip!

The Best Experience of My Life So Far

Charlotte E., Bachelor of Justice/Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
Universidad Carlos III Madrid, Spain (Semester 1, 2017)

 

Beautiful Madrid at sunset, on top of the Circulo Bella Artes

For my study abroad experience I was lucky enough to spend one semester at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M). I can whole-heartedly say it was the best experience of my life so far, and I would recommend anyone who has the opportunity to complete a student exchange to do so.

HOW TO PREPARE
• Save! Save as much money as you can in order to make the most of your experience. Whilst Madrid wasn’t expensive, it is important to be able to live comfortably, go out, and say yes to everything you want to do without monetary restrictions. Depending on how much you want to travel in and around Spain I would say aim to have $12,000+ to spend.

• Look into accommodation prior to arrival! I would definitely recommend staying in the city and commuting by train (25 minutes) to uni as opposed to on-campus accommodation, as the location of campus (Getafe) does not have a lot going on compared to the ever-buzzing city centre of Madrid. Check out the company Help Madrid for room rental, and areas like Malasaña, La Latina, Chueca, Gran Via, and Retiro are the best areas to live in!

The view from the Cathedral over La Latina

• Learn some common phrases! Madrid is a very international city, and so in the centre itself it is possible to mainly get by speaking only English. However, you will find it is easier if you do learn some Spanish prior to living there, and it is also greatly appreciated by the locals.

• Have multiple class options! Whilst UC3M has many classes taught In English (if like me your Spanish isn’t at any level of fluency), international students get the last pick of classes, and so when I went to register for the classes I had planned to take, many were unavailable. So, I would recommend having a few different options for classes and timetables.

WHAT TO EXPECT

• At UC3M: compared to QUT, the university itself was far less organized. The teachers were often late, but I think that just links to the fact that in Spain there is no rush for anything. Whilst this didn’t hinder my experience or my ability to learn, it was just bit of an adjustment.

• In Madrid: Expect to fall in love with the city. It is such a vibrant and liveable city, with something going on at all times. It’s not until you are living there that you truly understand what an amazing city it is. Plaza Mayor, Retiro Park, and Palacio Royale are some of my favourite tourist spots.

The Royal Palace of Madrid

• Everything is much later than in Australia! Typical dinner time in Spain is between 10pm and 11pm, which is something that took a little getting used to. Also, Madrid is well known for it’s unrivalled nightlife so be sure to make the most of the multitude of bars and clubs whilst you’re there.

• Travel! With Europe on your doorstep, make the most of being so close to places like France and Portugal. You can get some crazily cheap flights to all over Europe, and head away for the weekend. As well as other countries, be sure to explore Spain itself! One of my favourite parts of my exchange was travelling to different parts of Spain and seeing it in depth, there’s so much to love about this country. Having said this, make sure you spend enough time in Madrid itself to truly appreciate living in this incredible city.

Delicious Food

Forever Hungry in Hong Kong

Quote

“You may never go hungry in Hong Kong; however, you will feel the perpetual desire to eat being surrounded by delicious food” 

As a cultural hotpot, Hong Kong boasts a vast array of cuisines and delicacies unlike anything I have previously seen. If you decide to undertake your academic exchange in Hong Kong, you can expect the whole Asian continent on the menu. Restaurants are scattered all around Hong Kong – even in places where you wouldn’t expect a restaurant. Precariously sandwiched between soaring high-rises and glitzy, boutique clothing stores, it seems as though every third shop on Hong Kong island is a restaurant.

During my time in Hong Kong, there were some definite standout dishes. This included Poke, Dim2 Sam1, soup-dumplings, open-air eating and Portuguese egg-tarts.

Poke is a dish which originates from Hawaii and consists of seasoned shashimi grade fish. Customers at Pololi, one of the poke shops in Hong Kong and my favourite Poke shop so far, can choose to pair the fish with rice or salad and top the dish off with a variety of sauces. The result is a creamy, fresh and very filling meal.

A very filling bowl. You can find Pololi here: 35 – 39 Graham Street Central

Dim2 Sam1 has a very long history, dating back to the height of the Silk Route trade. Literally meaning “to touch the heart”, small dishes in Dim2 Sam1 allows diners to enjoy a variety of dishes and flavours. In Hong Kong, you will be spoilt for choice with the innumerable Dim2 Sam1 houses.

For me, Lin Heung tea house was a standout. Established in the 1980’s, Lin Heung is widely known for its traditional style and delicious food. At Lin Heung you are not given a menu sheet. Rather, you must chase after the ladies pushing the carts containing the dishes.

Don’t look for love, look for the cart with the delicious food.
Lin Heung – 162 Wellington St, Sheung Wan

Wrapped within a delicate casing, soup dumplings are a perfect blend of meat and delicate soup. Every bite is almost a complete meal by itself. There are several places where you can find soup-dumplings, you can find a full list here.

The perfect bite everytime. Soup dumplings.

Dai pai dongs are open air food stalls that usually set-up tables and chairs on the street. I’ve often heard that dai pai dongs are becoming increasingly rare due to governmental regulations.

If you are looking for a cheap, no-frills meal, then look no further than the humble dai pai dong. The dai pai dong featured below was located at the corner of Stanley St and Cochrane St in Central Hong Kong. However, there are many more located throughout Hong Kong, you can find a full list here.

In stark contrast to the high-end fashion, the space-aged cars and the suits, dai pai dongs offer a down-to-earth perspective to Hong Kong.

A sweet buicuity base, creamy custard filling and a sticky sugary glaze, each egg tart is a littble bit of happiness. Although this picture was taken in Macau, there are an abundance of places in Hong Kong where you can get your hands on one of these cups of joy.

Baked Happiness.
Portugese egg tarts.

 Tips before eating: 

Money matters: You would not want to be caught having finished a meal and not being able to pay for it, so make sure to always bring sufficient cash with you at all times. Many food stores in Hong Kong only take cash. 

Hygiene: If you choose to eat at a street stall in Hong Kong, a good rule of thumb to follow is to follow the crowd. A crowded stall is usually a good sign as it shows that food will be in constant circulation.

Secondly, don’t be afraid to wash your eating utensils. Restaurants will usually provide you will a large bowl big enough to fit all utensils inside and hot tea. Simply place the utensils in the bowl and wash it with the tea. Please don’t drink the tea afterwards. If you are unable to do so, cleaning your utensils with clean bottled water will also do.

Christjan C.

Bachelor of Justice / Bachelor of Laws (Honours)

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

How was studying at HTW?

Chloe: HTW Berlin, Semester 1, 2016

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Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)

The university program was very different to what I was used to in Australia. The course had no real structure and the teachers had carte blanche to decide what the content was, what the assessment was and when the assessment occurred. For example, I was doing the same subject as one of my friends and we had completely different content, different assignments and exams and different course time frames. One of my teachers was pregnant so she did the entire course in 6 weeks, so I had already finished one of my classes by mid-May. My friends in the other class had to do the subject for the entire semester with a final exam in July. I found this very strange as the QUT program is so structured and uniform, everyone studies exactly the same thing, does the exact same assessment and all sit the exam simultaneously. No lectures or tutorials in Berlin were recorded, some classes had no lecture slides or overview of content and there were no prescribed textbooks. It was difficult to follow a lot of the content as the teachers had varying levels of English proficiency. Being a native English speaker was a huge advantage, as non-fluent speakers really struggled to understand what was going on. Sometimes it was very difficult to understand what the teacher meant and understand the PowerPoint slides, as a lot of the time it seemed like they had just copied and pasted the German wording into Google Translate and then put it on a lecture slide. This resulted in some very strange sentences and it wasn’t always immediately clear what their point was.

Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)

Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)

The highlights of my experience were being able to travel by myself and see more of Europe, meeting so many incredible people from all over the world along the way. I also

University Building

University Building

enjoyed having so much time to just explore Berlin. I was able to spend an entire day in one museum, perusing slowly and taking everything in, as opposed to rushing through like I had done on the first time I was there. I loved walking around every day in a city filled with so much history and seeing the classic tourist sites like Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall never got old. All in all it was a truly incredible experience and I learnt a lot about myself and how I cope with adversity.

 

Cost of Living in London and Travel

Hannah: City University London, Semester 1, 2016

I did not fully comprehend how much living in London would cost until I got over there, however I had enough savings to not stress about money, live comfortably and enjoy many travel opportunities. This should definitely be communicated to future exchange students, as I met other students who really limited their opportunities until the end before travelling because they were constantly budgeting. Throughout the semester I had time to travel to Iceland, Switzerland, Budapest, Prague, Vienna and Scotland. I did a few trips in England including Nottingham, Peterborough and Cambridge, although I regret not being organised enough to visit some other places.

hannah_craig5

The Alps

After my exams finished, my lease also finished and I begin a five-week solo travel experience across Europe. From London I travelled to Norway before visiting Copenhagen, Berlin, Munich, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Venice, Rome, Florence, Milan, Barcelona, Paris and Amsterdam. It was such an amazing experience I met lovely people in Hostels along the way and saw beautiful architecture, cities and natural landscapes. Travelling was definitely a highlight of my trip although it was lonely at times I made use of every opportunity and I was able to meet a friend made through the exchange program on my last stop in Amsterdam.

Colosseum

Colosseum

hannah_craig7

Travel Pic

City University was different from QUT in terms of diversity of culture; it was so refreshing to be in a country and university, embracing difference and acceptance. London is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, although I felt Australia was quite diverse, London was nowhere I had ever been, it was so exciting to be immersed in culture, language and practices. I was able to develop cultural awareness about different cultures through my classes and interactions with other students. My exchange experience has been a truly rewarding and memorable experience I will always cherish and would recommend it to any student at QUT.

My Glasgow Highlights and Advice

Ashleigh: University of Glasgow, Semester 1, 2016

There are so many things I should put in this section, but my top five highlights (in no particular order) would be going to a beach and hot spa in Reykjavik, Iceland in the middle of Winter, the torchlight procession at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, New Year’s Eve from Westminster Bridge, spending my birthday looking over Barcelona and taking a sunset cruise in Santorini!

Looking over Barcelona on my Birthday

Looking over Barcelona on my Birthday

Sunset Cruise in Santorini

Sunset Cruise in Santorini

Tips and Advice

Firstly, budget more than you estimate you’ll need as a contingency and have some Australian currency spare in case your wallet goes missing or you need more changed over quickly. Then, be flexible when you travel so you can spend as little as possible while still getting the most out of it. Most importantly, no matter where you go or how much travel you do, don’t get stuck with people you find from back home. Go out, get involved in the culture and meet people from everywhere! This is a piece of advice I was given on my flight over and something which I will always take with me because if you stick with the same people, you’ll probably keep doing the same thing and won’t really experience the culture as much as you could.

New Years Eve in London

New Years Eve in London