I am Kasun Kalhara, studying Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at Queensland University of Technology, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. Since high school, I was interested in advocating peer students and support them.
Signing up for a mentor recruitment program was the first step that led me to other interesting events during my studying period in QUTIC. A quick flashback to my O-week, I remember I was nervous and excited at the same time. Everything was unfamiliar to me, and it took me quite a long time adjusting to college. This is the reason I wanted to help other international students who might face similar challenges, and to enhance their acculturation process. Below is a quick snapshot of what we (mentors) went through.
When I knew I was selected to be a part of the Mentor Group for TP3, 2017, I didn’t expect to gain anything from this program. However, the teachers and friends who I worked together with throughout the whole period have moved my heart. Nonetheless, becoming a mentor is not the only way to make college more memorable, there are plenty of opportunities and activities that are run by QUTIC. I strongly encourage QUTIC students to become more actively involved in social activities because you will never know what you have missed out on until you try. Watch a sneak peek of my mentor training journey.
Before this training, all members from the crew were strangers to each others. There were no greetings or a hand-waving, although we sit next to each others in classes and I didn’t understand why. No one took the opportunity to change the awkward atmosphere in the rooms, outside the classes, in the hallway, and in the eating area, or maybe it was just only me who felt that way. QUTIC is not that big, so we can get to know everyone in the same course within 1-2 weeks, but most people kept to their own.
After my mentor training, my schedule got busy due to extra work from being a mentor, but this change was a good one. I cared more about friends around me, started more conversations with acquaintances, interacted more with teachers, and invited students to join QUTIC’s activities. Despite of tons of homework waiting for me at the end of the day, I became more confident and excited to get involved in class activities more often. Eventually, I took on more roles and participated in other events because I know no matter the results, I will always have my group to back me up.
I’m glad that I made it through the program with all the members taking part in this teaching period. Everyone has directly and indirectly taught me something. I would like to give a big shout-out to Mrs. Lauren Bulter and Mrs. Suzan Gredig for their hard work with the Mentor Program. Making friends is absolutely going to make your studying journey more exciting, and there is nothing to lose. Besides, it is all about experiences and memories, and every single member of this Mentor Group TP3, 2017 are part of making my studies at QUTIC more memorable.
The Confucius Institute is a non-for-profit organisation which aims to promote Chinese language and culture. QUT Confucius Institute was established in 2008, the first in Queensland. It has worked with both QUT and local schools to deliver educational workshops and Chinese language classes.
While studying in China, I had heard about the Confucius Institute program where you can go overseas to teach Chinese. I was very interested in this opportunity, however, you need a teaching degree to be able to apply, so I wasn’t eligible.
After studying in Australia, I realised QUT has a Confucius Institute and I emailed them to show my interest in volunteering because I’m still very keen to teach Chinese even though I’m studying business. ( If you are also interested in volunteering, you can just email email@example.com. )
One event that I participated in this year is Queensland Chinese Speech competition where both primary, middle and high school students from various parts of Queensland attended. They were grouped by age and background (being Chinese-speaking and non-Chinese speaking). I was very surprised to see the big turnout of both students and parents.
While volunteering as a floater in the competition room, I also got the chance to sit and listen to students’ speech. Some students stumble, others very fluent. Regardless of it, I can see how much effort they put in learning another language and how much support the peers show to each other.
Recently, QUT Confucius Institute hosted a thank-you event to thank the efforts all the volunteers put in during this year. Some previous volunteers also showed up and they now teach Chinese in local schools. So if you are a teaching/education student and are interested in gaining some experience, start with being a volunteer at Confucius Institute because they have a lot of teaching opportunities and collaboration with Queensland schools.
P.S. If you are interested in learning Chinese, QUT Confucius Institute run basic Chinese classes every week. 🙂
Mid-autumn Festival is widely celebrated in many Asian counties to celebrate the season of harvest. In China, this festival is a time where families get together to enjoy the beautiful moon and eat sweet mooncakes.
This year, Mid-autumn Festival happens to be during the Chinese National Day period so that Chinese people get a long holiday of 8 days. Most of my friends back in China choose to go overseas for holiday or return to their home town to spend time with their family.
On the other side of the world, myself as an international student in Australia decided to celebrate this festival with the QUT community. I’m so glad that Mid-autumn Festival is one of the flagship events at QUT where students can come to enjoy the cultural performance as well as taste free mooncakes.
The celebration event included Chinese Tai Chi, traditional Chinese musical instrument performance, lantern-making, calligraphy workshop as well as lion dance. As the venue was located near the Goodwill Bridge, a lot of passengers passing by was attracted by the music and came to join the festival together with students.
Even though I cannot be at home to celebrate this festival together with family, I don’t feel lonely because Brisbane is so multicultural. I felt a sense of community seeing so many people coming together to attend this event, whether international students or domestic students.
Mid-autumn Festival marks the end of autumn and the celebration of harvest. This period at university is also almost the end of the semester. Dear friends, let’s study hard, get through this busy period and celebrate the harvest of our effort soon!
QUT Malaysian Students Association hosted Malaysia’s 60th National Day Celebration at Kelvin Grove campus. The celebration was happening from 11AM to 3PM on August 31st. The activities included Henna (body painting with a dye prepared from a plant), calligraphy, games, multicultural singing and dance performances. There was also Malaysia local cuisines food stall and free Teh Tarik (a hot milk tea beverage which can be commonly found in restaurants and outdoor stalls at Southeast Asia countries) distributing.
It was a great effort by QUT Malaysian Students Association to host this event in the campus for the celebration of Malaysia’s 60th National Day. Even though we are far away from home, we can still celebrate National’s Day even in the campus.
Several weeks ago, I received an email sent out by QUT Business Faculty where they are looking for paddlers to join 2017 Dragon Boat Regatta representing the Business school. I always wanted to do some kayaking or canoeing on Brisbane River, therefore I joined straight away.
It turns out to be one of the most exciting events that I have ever participated since the beginning of my university life.
Dragon Boat Regatta actually has its roots in ancient China. Qu Yuan, a Chinese poet known for his patriotism and contributions to classical poetry committed suicide due to extreme despair to the situation of politics back then. In order to keep fish and evil spirits away from his body, villagers beat drums and splashed water with their paddles on dragon boat.
After three training sessions with Te Waka Dragons, the big day finally came. The final race was hosted on Brisbane River in South Bank.
On the day, there are more than 15 teams. The race was very competitive as all of the team devoted 100% to the race. For us, although we did not get to the finals, we can say at least we tried and had the best fun!
If you are thinking about joining a QUT Flagship event and meet new people while getting more fit, definitely join next year’s Dragon Boat Regatta!
Every year, QUT hosts a 5-day intensive program for passionate LDIers where we are whisked away to a “camp” and immerse ourselves in leadership concepts and explore and extend our capacity as leaders. This year, the Training Institute was hosted at Kindilan Outdoor Education Centre in Redland Bay and consisted of around 80 students, plus facilitators and counsellors.
We are not given very much information on what to expect at camp, and what the guidance leaflet told us was to “expect anything”. While this was mildly irritating for someone who delves into information pre-event so that I’m prepared for what’s to come, I can assure you that I’m glad I was unprepared.
I’m not going to give you specifics of what happened at the 5-day camp, because that will only take away from your own learning experience should you choose to go.
As far as my opinion goes, it was an excellent week where I learned more about myself, my own take on leadership and how to be a better leader from my friends and peers. While this may all sound vaguely superficial, ask anyone who has been to the Training Institute and they will mostly mirror this opinion.
What I learned at this intensive is definitely not something I would have learned by attending all the LDI workshops at uni, simply because at camp, we learn by doing. We learn from ourselves and we apply it during the week.
The cost of this camp is $100 all-inclusive.
For anyone considering attending this, if you’re working in the capacity of a leader and looking to improve, if you’re somehow seeking a deeper understanding of how we fit (or don’t fit) into the bigger picture, or are just curious as to what happens at this uber-secret intensive, just go!! I highly recommend it!
Should you need any more incentive, here are some shots of the beautiful space we were in… and the beautiful people I met there.
For more information on LDI, visit https://www.student.qut.edu.au/jobs-and-careers/leadership-and-development/leadership-development-and-innovation-program
- What university are you studying?
Ewha Womans University in South Korea.
- How long was your exchange at QUT?
About 5 months.
- What course were you studying at QUT?
My major is journalism. I took four classes at QUT. Three of them were about journalism and one of them was Australia Geography.
- What do you learn from the exchange experience at QUT?
Australia is one of the most multi-cultural places in the world. A multi-cultural society is made up of people from various backgrounds and ethnicities. I could make friends of all different races and learn from them. It was really interesting to share each culture. By doing so, I became more open-minded. After studying in Australia, my perspective and thoughts are broadened.
- What is the main difference do you find between QUT and your university?
Although Ewha Womans University provides students some discussion courses, the number of classes is too limited. Also, there are so many students in each class that students cannot have enough time to express their views. On the contrary, QUT has lots of discussion courses and the number of students in a class is small compared to mine. I was happy to express my opinion during the classes actively.
- Any tips for the prospective exchange students?
I really recommend you to visit lots of places while studying abroad. Australia is really huge and has many different types of weather. It has many different environments inside. For me, Australia was a really great choice. I traveled lots of parts in Australia such as Alice Springs, Cairns, Melbourne, Sydney and so on. Each part has different feel and its own attraction. In addition, Australia has various kinds of animals, which are hard to find in other countries. I saw many kinds of kangaroos. There are also many koalas in Australia, it is easy for people to see them. Many of my Korean friends envy me that I could see them. QUT International Student Service also provides school trips for international students with resonable prices. I recommend you to check mails from QUT International Student Service.
Where are you from?
How long have you been in Brisbane?
- Since June 2015
What course are you studying?
- Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in Film, Television and New Media Production
How do you find being a part of QUT?
- It’s great to be immersed in the multicultural atmosphere in QUT and also Brisbane which offers a lot of opportunities for international students to experience different cultural events organised by different clubs around the campus.
What do you like to do during your leisure time?
- Watching movies, TV series and gaming.
What is your favorite quote?
- You never try, you never know.
I’ve heard about the QUT International Student Services trips many times through friends, but haven’t had the chance to attend it ever since I started QUT. As my graduation is approaching soon, I would love to explore more about Queensland before I graduate. So this time I signed up for a trip to Eumundi Market and Noosa for around $50 (personally I think it is a bit expensive).
The whole trip was very relaxed and you could have a lot of freedom. We were taken to Eumundi Market in the morning first and had two hours exploration by ourselves.
Another highlight of the market was its street artists. They used imagination and hard work to brighten your day.
After the market fun, we headed straight to the Noosa beach and national park.
A lot of people were enjoying the nice weather on the beach. Our coordinator from ISS took those who were interested in a hike straight to the Noosa National Park. For some of the students who just started their life in Australia, it was their first time seeing a beach in Queensland, so some of them were really excited.
We had about four hour to explore in the park before heading back. So I decided to take a long hike. The view was so pretty and astonishing!
Remember to bring some snacks and sunscreen because there is no shop inside the mountain and you might need some energy to recharge yourself.
I took a fruit break for about 20 minutes while taking some pictures and enjoying the peaceful wave.
I took this picture at a place called the Hell’s Gate. Did you see my hair being blew up by the wind? It was a crazy experience because the wind there was so strong and you can hear the wind punching the edge of the cliff and making loud noises.
Isn’t the view amazing? I’m glad I decided to go on this trip and checked one place off my bucket list. Also I made several new friends along the way as well.
Overall such a fun experience!