My travels across the South-Eastern border

During my winter break this year, I was invited by my best friend and her family to travel across the South-Eastern border of Australia with them. Our journey started with a flight to Melbourne, and road trips to Shepparton, Furner, Mount Gambier and Adelaide, and flight back from Adelaide to Brisbane.

The trip was an immersive experience as we stayed on farms owned by family friends, and I played with lots of baby lambs, had freshly laid eggs for breakfast and also had a bonfire night in the freezing weather.

My best friend surprised me with a trip to the Blue Lake, Tantanoola caves and the possum caves in Mount Gambier.

The spectacular Tantanoola caves have a stunning arrangement of stalactites and stalagmites made exclusively of limestone and dolomite, and the structures are still active! This is one of the few wheelchair accessible caves in Australia.

The Blue Lake in South Australia is a crater lake formed over an inactive volcano in Mount Gambier. The depth, colour, and visibility of the lake changes with the season.

On the way to Adelaide from Furner, we also came across the famous giant lobster, and absolutely had to take a picture of it!

The notorious giant lobster!

All in all, this trip inspired me to aim to travel more across Australia and explore the less famous towns and cities and discover more of Australia’s stunning landscape and natural formations.

Lady Elliot Island; Southern Great Barrier Reef

LADY ELLIOT ISLAND, GREAT BARRIER REEF

Coral reefs that surround the island along with the clear water.

One time experience to Great Barrier Reef makes you come back for more. Just a month after going to Cairns, Lady Elliot Island was my next destination. It was an easy planning,  I  only needed the website ladyelliotisland.com, along with the saved up money (because yes, Lady Elliot Island wasn’t cheap at all….) and it got me through real easy.

So this is how you get to Lady Elliot Island; you pay individually even though you arrive in a group. The price includes; transportation to and from the island, food (breakfast and dinner), free snorkeling around the island, accommodation, and much more. Extra activities are also provided, one which I took of course; diving!!

Lady Elliot Island Cafe, where we had breakfast. The island is known to be the home to manta rays.

Lady Elliot, homes of Mantas.

The interior of island

This is how the island looked like.

It’s not Australia without the seagulls!

The sea wildlife just seconds from the beach.

This clear water! You just go 2 meters off the coast to meet a turtle, and several more meters to meet a blue spotted ray and reef sharks.

SUNRISES

Sunrises on the east side of the island. So cold in the morning in May

SUNSETS

Sunsets from the Lighthouse area. People gather here everyday to enjoy the view together.

Milky way on Lady Elliot. Taken with DSLR Canon EOS 40D, 17-85mm Canon Lense, f/4.0-5.6.

More on specific camera settings on flickr.com/photos/pcsyafira.

Lady Elliot Island: Most definitely best destination I’ve been to in Australia yet.

 

Pricilia Clarissa Syafira

2018

A secret seaside paradise

Hi, I’m Max, a Diploma in Health Science student at QUT International College.

I’d like to introduce you to my favourite place where I go to relax and release stress. Gold Coast can be hard to go without a car, so I have found another close seaside town to enjoy, Redcliffe.

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Students in Governance – What it takes is what you have

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.

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Solo Trip to Thailand

Holiday is coming soon! I’m sure some of my dear readers have getaway trips planned already.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While studying in Australia, it is very popular to travel to South-east Asia during the holiday period. Some of the budget airlines like Air Asia and Jetstar always have deals to popular travel destinations such as Thailand, Bali and Malaysia.

I know it sounds like cliché but travelling does bring invaluable experience and make you more organised, independent and confident.

QUT offers students a one-week mid-semester break each semester. Earlier this year, I decided to take this opportunity and travel to Thailand for 9 days.

Bangkok left me with an impression of being busy, hot and crowded. I had a pretty funny bus experience: As you may or may not know, the traffic in Bangkok is pretty bad especially during the rush hour. Both the driver and ticket officer of the bus I was on had a newspaper with them. When the bus was stuck in the traffic, the driver started reading newspaper and seemed pretty chilled in the middle of all the cars just like reading in his backyard. Although many tourists choose to take cabs or metros while traveling, getting on a bus really gave you a sense of how local people live. So highly recommended!

 

 

One thing I enjoyed most while touring around Bangkok was taking the ferry along Chao Phraya River. Chao Phraya is the major river in Thailand which flows though Bangkok and then into the Gulf of Thailand.

 

 

The price varies a lot between taking a river cruise and taking a normal ferry. The river cruise is much more expensive with a tour guide while the normal ferry is cheaper with lots of locals on it.

Along the river, you will get the chance to see many famous tourist destinations like The Temple of Dawn and Wat Pho. For me, I enjoy observing the local people more than checking out the Buddha statues. There are usually three people working on the ferry: driver, ticket officer and boat guy.

 

 

Every time when the ferry is about to stop at a station, the boat guy would jump off the ferry and pull the rope of the ferry to get the boat close to the pier so people would get on. I was so amazed by the efficient speed of him and how hard-working he was.  You need to be quick, have strength and endure the heat of the sun. Especially when I think the boat guy is much younger than me, I feel so lucky that I could get the chance to study overseas and hope he could or would get a chance of higher education too.

Another amazing part of the trip was that during the trip I made friends with people from all over the world. There were a lot of other backpackers and solo travelers, so making friends was very easy. However, you do need to be careful and make good judgement while travelling by yourself.

 

 

In my next blog, I will talk about some tips on solo travelling. I hope you can all nail the final assessment and enjoy the upcoming holiday. Until next time!

Attending the International Student Farewell Party With Friends

It is getting closer and closer to the graduation. Last Friday, QUT International Student Services organised a farewell party for graduating international students with performance, games and food.

 

 

 

 

 

It was hosted in the newly renovated OJ Wordsworth room which is located on the top of S block with a stunning view over the Brisbane river.

The turnout was really good. Nearly 70 students showed up and everybody seemed to enjoy the entertainment and food.

 

 

 

QUT Dance Society brought us a live dance show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

QUT Aca-demics  showed us how beautiful pure vocal could be!

 

I met a lot of familiar faces there including classmates and friends to ISS staffs whom I worked with previously. We talked a lot about our plans after graduation. Some of my friends already have a job lined up after graduation while others are still looking.

In the past two years, not only did I learn from class, I also learnt a lot from my friends who showed me what perseverance, hardworking and never giving up means. One of my friends worked in Shanghai for almost seven years before coming here for further study to get a career change. In China, there are not a lot of mature age students because the society pressure you a lot to make a complete new start especially after turning 30.  During her days in Brisbane, she joined a lot of activities on campus, volunteered and maintained a good GPA. She really inspired me.

Another friend of mine was actively seeking for jobs for almost one year with no success, but he was determined to not give up. At the end of the this semester, a small accounting firmed asked accounting students from QUT to send them video resumes. My friend took this opportunity and sent a a great video which stood out from all the applications. He got the job eventually which is well-deserved!

Me with my friends who are in the same course with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another group photos with old and new friends. We all studied accounting and are graduating this semester!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting the mentor awards was actually a surprise for me. I still remembered that in the first year I volunteered for International Student Services during the orientation and met so many like-minded people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now looking back, I actually did a lot while at QUT besides studying. I’m also pretty sure that some of my friends will turn out to be very successful because they demonstrated  really good traits whilst studying. My friends, thank you so much for teaching me through your own examples and I will work hard just like you guys do!

Plan after Graduation: Return Home Country or Stay in Australia?

Today I handed in my last assignment which gave me a bittersweet feeling — only one exam left until I graduate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the graduation season is approaching, I got asked quite a few times from family and friends what my plan is after finishing study. To be honest, I’m still not too sure.

I remember before I left China, I was super excited and decided that I would stay in Australia and find a job there because of the good weather, great beaches and higher paying jobs than my home country. Now two years have passed and I start feeling unsure what I’m going to do or where I’m going to go.

I haven’t worked in China, but got told how fast it is developing and how many opportunities there are. I remember last time when I was doing training for the dragon boat race, a friend of mine who just went on a business trip to Shanghai said: “OMG, so many big deals are happening right now in China!”. It made me really tempted to go back and be part of this rapid change. The thought of joining the booming market made me feel excited.

However, I also have concerns about going back. First of all, there are so many Chinese students returning home every year. Some of them graduated from top universities from all over the world. Therefore, if I go back, I have to compete with all those top talents to get a good job which make me feel very pressured. Secondly, regardless of the chance of getting a good job, I’m not too sure whether I will like the fast pace and busy lifestyle in the finance industry back home.

On the other hand, working in Australia sounds both exciting and full of uncertainty. Will Iget a job? What I should do? Will I stay here forever? I heard from my friends who have already graduate that getting a job, a good one, here in Australia is very hard. As an international student, you sometimes might feel left out among your colleagues because of different lifestyle and communication barriers. However, the work life balance is definitely better compared with China.

Even though I had two years to think about my future plan and career path while studying overseas, I’m still not too sure where I should go. I think time will tell what choice I should make, but for now, I will follow my heart!

Placement at the outback

QUT is an university for real world. I can’t agree more.

I was lucky enough to get selected for the placement at Ngaanyatjarra Lands which is located at the outback of central Perth. This was the coolest placement experience I have so far.

The Ngaanyatjarra lands includes twelve aboriginal communities. Eleven of them have a health clinic built in the communities. The placement was a vision screening trip to the Ngaanyatjarra lands. The vision screening team of the trip consisted of an ophthalmologist, an optometrist, two optometry students, one nurse and one registrar. For your information, vision screening is an efficient and cost-effective method to identify the visual impairment or eye conditions that possibly complicate with the vision loss, therefore a timely referral can be made to the appropriate eye care professional for further examination and management.

All the communities scatter around the Ngaanyatjarra lands. Due to the remote location, we have to take the jet charter to access to those communities. We departed from Fremantle at Perth early in the morning to kick start the five days vision screening trip.

Image: The interior of our jet charter. It was a pretty comfortable ride.

Image: We were above the clouds when the sun was rising. The sky was coloured with pink and light blue.

Image: My course mate and I were offered to be the co-pilot. It was such a cool experience for us!

Image: The photo of I and the jet charter.

Image: The vision screening team.

Image: The photo of the friendly pilot and us.

We have screened around 180 people during the five days vision screening trip and dispensed numerous sunglasses. QUT provides this rare opportunity for the students to experience whatever that may happen in our future career.

Other than doing placements locally, students are also allowed to seek the placement opportunities worldwide. I went back to my home country for the summer holidays and finished part of the placements at one of the eye centres in my country in the meanwhile. The placements enable me to expose myself to the eye care system in both countries. It also prep myself with the these experiences before I kick start my career once I graduate.

 

 

 

Two Years in Australia

It has been almost two years since I came to Australia. I can’t believe how quick time flies!

It was a fast decision for me to come to Australia but it turned out to be a decision that I will never regret. On retrospect, the past two years have been colourful, fruitful even though sometimes challenging.

Brisbane City View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I still remember how nervous I was when I first arrived. My cousin took me to Indooroopilly shopping centre to get my bank card and mobile sorted, but I was too shy to speak English and I found it difficult to understand English.

Going overseas to study has always been my dream since high school, therefore I decided to get most out of my studies in Australia in the very beginning. So I joined a couple of clubs and went to as many events as I could where I met friends and practiced my English skills.

I kept myself very busy in my first year and was always outside. However I admit that I didn’t put enough time on study so I was really struggling at the end of my first year. Starting from this semester, I put more time and energy on study because this is the main purpose why I come all the way to Australia.

The place where I call home now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life here without family is not always smooth. I still remember how hard I tried to get a casual job, how depressed I was once while struggling to study and how much I missed talking to my old friends face to face.

Celebrating New Year in Fortitude Valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a while, I finally found a balance between study, social and work although I still struggled sometimes. Meanwhile, living alone overseas taught me how precious family and friends are.

I start to cherish the free time I got and try to make the most of it, cherish the friends I met because it’s harder and harder to have a close friend when you grow older and study hard because it will bring more opportunities.

Now 6 months left until my graduation and I still have no idea where the future will lead me to especially when some of your friends already got jobs and you are still in the process of figuring out what to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just had a coffee catch up with one of my friends and we had the following conversation:

Me: Do you have anything that you regret or wish you could have done since you came to Australia?

L: Hmm, not really. In my first year I spent most of my time studying and wasn’t very active on campus. That’s probably the only thing. What about you?

Me: In my first year, I spent a lot of time attending events and being active on campus. I wish I could’ve studied more.

Our responses are like two sides of a coin and no matter which side we choose, we will miss the other side. But isn’t life like that? You can only choose once and no matter what you choose, it is your own life and experience. I never regretted what I chose and I’ll try to cherish all the experience and people upon encountering as every encounter is a once in a life time opportunity.

Exchange student interview: Juyeon Suh

Photo: Exchange student, Juyeon Suh from South Korea. Image taken at QUT Gardens Point Campus.

  • 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.

Photo: Exchange student, Juyeon Suh. Image taken at Kangaroo Point Cliff.

  • 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.

Photo: Exchange student, Juyeon Suh. Image taken at Alice Springs.