Unveil the Mysterious QUT Confucius Institute

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 confucius.institute@qut.edu.au. )

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.

All the lovely volunteers and teaching staffs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. If you are interested in learning Chinese, QUT Confucius Institute run basic Chinese classes every week. 🙂

Checking out GOMA’s latest exhibition

 

 “I’m just another dot in the world”

— Yayoi Kusama

 

 

From now until 11 February 2018, Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) showcase the artwork of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Among them, the mirror room and the obliteration room are two of her most famous masterpieces.

Yayoi was born in Japan into an affluent family and she developed an interest for art at a young age. However, she didn’t get along well with her parents and refused for her life goal to be marrying a rich man. Being diagnosed as mentally unstable, her doctor suggested her to go to New York where she worked long hours and made her name well-known in the art world. Due to illness, she eventually returned Tokyo, Japan and chose to live in a mental institution and kept working in a studio nearby until this day.

It wasn’t until I got home from seeing the exhibition with friends that I started doing a little bit research about this artist. Before then, I only knew that Yayoi was a contemporary artist incorporating polka dots into her work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Mirror Room

If you ask me to use one word to summarize my experience with the mirror room, I would say “infinity”. While polka dots were an important element in most of her artwork, she took it to the next level in the mirror room where you were immersed into darkness and infinite life and feel a sense of happiness as well as smallness in the endless space.

Walked into the mirror room and feel myself a part of it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following is another mirror room where you see it as an observer through a hole. The lights change and all you see is infinity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Obliteration Room

This is an interactive project of Yayoi where the whole room was completely white at the beginning. Visitors were handed a sheet of stickers and they can go in and put it anywhere they want.

‘Yayoi Kusama: Look Now, See Forever’ Picture from the Internet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the time I visited the exhibition, the room has already transformed from the minimalist style into an explosion of color, with thousands of stickers over pretty much every available surface.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The process is fun for me as a participant who has little art background. But now looking back, I can related to what Yayoi said:”I’m just another dot”. The stickers that I put on might eventually be covered by others. I’m colorful yet so small in this big world.

 

Even though I’m not a huge art fan, learning Yayoi’s story of how her conquered mental illness, made a mark in a foreign country by hard work and stayed creative at an old age made me feel really touched.

Not only did I see a sense of struggle, explosion and perseverance, I also admire Yayoi as a person who never give up and is brave enough to pursue her own dreams in spite of all the  hardship!

Road Trip with friends

One of the greatest memories from my student life at QUT will definitely be the road trips I have done with my friends.

Me and my friends planned to go on a road trip to experience the beautiful countryside. My friends have driving licenses and cars so we just had to decide on the destination. However if you or your friends do not have a car, rental car services are very common in Australia. Pay attention to the driver requirements from rental car companies especially if you are holding a international driving licence. Do some research on the computer and you will find plenty of information.

IWe were a large group of people going on the road trip and even if it was a while ago, I still remember the beautiful day and all the laughters.

Our first stop was Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm which took us around 1.5 hours from Brisbane CBD.

Photo: Beautiful landscape at Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm.

Photo: Beautiful landscape at Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm.

Photo: You can enjoy a good meal from the chef at the restaurant there with such a great view.

Photo: We were lucky to see some lavender blossoms that day.

Photo: There are some nice souveniers available for visitors to purchase.

The next stop was Queen Mary Falls, which is located at the Main Range. The view was magnificient!

Photo: It looks spectacular while we were down under the falls.

Photo: My friends climbed up the rocks to take the photos with the beautiful falls and rainbow.

If you have an opportunity to go for a roadtrip with your friends whilst studying in Brisbane, definitely do it. It will be a wonderful memory of your uni life.

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!

My saving tips for the daily life of an international student

I think money issue is one of the main worries for most of the international students in Australia. Being an international student in Brisbane, I have to keep a close eye at the digits of my bank account to make sure that I have enough money for my rent, food, transport, social activities, travelling and last but not least, the tuition fee.

1) Groceries

There are many options to do your groceries in Brisbane for examples Aldi, Woolworths, Coles, IGA, K mart, Big W, Costco, Asian Groceries Stores etc. Normally the large grocery stores may carry most of the stuff you need but different brands. Compare the prices between the grocery stores and the different brands they carry (grocery home brands are often cheaper)  if you want to save some money! Furthermore, the big grocery stores may have discount for different types of products every week, so join their mailing list and keep an eye on their specials.

Other than the regular promotion, some products which are approaching expiry date will have a further price reduction. I always buy discounted ice coffee which makes my day haha!

As a member of one of QUT’s student organisations you may have discounts for stores across Brisbane. For instance, QUT Malaysian Students Association provides special discounts for members who shops in one of the Asian grocery stores in the city.

I would suggest you buy fruits and vegetables from the markets, as it’s normally cheaper  than the grocery stores. You can find out more about Brisbane markets from my previous post: https://blogs.qut.edu.au/student-life-in-brisbane/2016/11/01/markets-culture-in-brisbane/

2) Transport

I have shared some saving tips in my previous blog post: Public transport in Brisbane.

3) Accommodation

There are many options for accommodation for examples homestay, students apartments, shared acommodation etc. The weekly rent could range from AUD $100+ to $300+. Personally I think shared accommodation is the cheaper option, however, it all depends on what your requirements are.

4) Travelling

Travelling could be very affordable if you plan well in advance. Brisbane has a great geographic location and is near most of Australia’s major travel destinations.  Join the airlines’ email list so you don’t miss the cheapest ticket. Instead of flying, you can choose to do a road trip to any of the beautiful places surrounding Brisbane. You can read my previous post regarding my visit to the beautiful places surrounding Brisbane.

If you plan to visit some tourist spots which require entrance tickets e.g. Lone Pine Sanctuary or all the theme parks on the Gold Coast, I would suggest you buy the ticket in advance. Check out some travel agencies in the city or suburbs as they would be able to sell you the tickets with a better price than the venue. You can read my blog post with some travelling tips about Gold Coast Theme Parks.

5) Social activities

I enjoy dining out with friends, however dining out in Brisbane could be  very expensive. Some restaurants serve very big portions, so it is a good idea to share with a friend if you have small appetite. The portion of food sold by food trucks is normally not that big. You could check out my previous blog to know more about the food trucks culture in Brisbane.

Hopefully these tips could save some money whilst studying as an international student in Brisbane!

Road trip to Toowoomba

Toowoomba is a city located in the Darling Downs region of southern Queensland. It takes around two hours to drive from Brisbane CBD. A friend of mine and I planned a road trip to Toowoomba for the Carnival of Flowers which occurs in September every year. Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers is an award winning event about spectacular gardens, live music and local food & wine etc. It’s an event loved by locals and visitors travel from all over the country to take part.

The first place we went to was Queens Park which had many beautiful flowers.

After watching all the colourful flowers, we went to Picnic Point to have our lunch. Picnic Point is and excellent lunch spot with a wonderful view of Table Top Mountain.

Photo: Tabletop Mountain.

After finishing our picnic, we went to the Japanese Gardens to see more flowers.

After relaxing at the Japanese Gardens, we went to a mountain in Highfields, which is around twenty minutes drive from Toowoomba. We didn’t know a lot about the place before going there and there were no clear signs telling you which trail to follow, so we didn’t explore too much. However, we got to see a wild kangaroo jumping in the bushes.

Toowoomba is a great destination for a road trip. Nonetheless, I would suggest you going on a day with good weather as it could get very hot and cold.

 

 

Byron Bay Getaway

Byron Bay is a coastal town in New South Wales. It is a popular holidays destination for beaches, surfing and scuba diving. It takes around two hours to go there by car from Brisbane CBD. It is a perfect destination for a day trip when you want a getaway from heaps of assignments.

We departed from Brisbane CBD at 8.30AM and arrived at Cape Byron Light House at around 10.30AM. Other than seeing the breathtaking view from the viewing platform near the light house, you can also do some light hiking there.

Photo: From the car park to Cape Byron Light House.

Photo: Beautiful view along the hiking trail.

Photo: On the way to another viewing platform.

Besides going to the well-known Cape Byron Light House, Byron Bay is also the place famous for skydiving. I gave myself a birthday challenge last year which was to fly in the sky.

Photo: The helicopter brought us high up to the sky before jumping off.

Photo: Extremely nervous and frigtening while waiting for your turn to jump off.

Photo: The breathtaking view of Byron Bay while I was flying in the sky.

Photo: I was lucky enough to see the small rainbow circle.

Photo: Feed the eyes with the magnificient view while we were hanging in the sky.

Photo: When we were about to touch down.

Can’t believe that I did it still! If I never challenge myself to do skydiving, I will never get to enjoy the breathtaking view up there. It’s the same in our daily lives: If you don’t challenge yourself, you will never realise what you can become. Become a better you from stepping out of your comfort zone.

Celebrating Chinese Culture – Mid Autumn Festival

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!

Wandering around QUT Precincts

If you have some free time to just hang out at QUT Gardens Point, QUT Art Museum, the William Robinson Gallery and Old Government House are the places that you should visit!

QUT Precincts is Australia’s leading university cultural precinct and home to world-class venues. It consists of QUT Art Museum, the William Robinson Gallery, Old Government House and The Cube which located at Gardens Point campus. Another one is QUT Creative Industries Precinct located at Kelvin Grove campus.

I have shared some photos of The Cube and QUT Creative Industries Precinct at the blogposts of QUT Gardens Point campus and QUT Kelvin Grove campus separately before.

Today I would like to share some photos that I took while I visited QUT Art Museum, the William Robinson Gallery and Old Government House.

Photo: The entrance of QUT Art Museum.

Photo: Exhibitions at QUT Art Museum.

Photo: Exhibition at QUT Art Museum.

Photo: The exterior of Old Government House.

Photo: The interior of Old Government House.

Photo: The panorama of Brisbane at 1872 exhibited at Old Government House.

Photo: The exhibition at Old Government House.

Photo: One of the corner at William Robinson Gallery.

There are all free so you can always visit if you have some time at Gardens Point campus.

Ekka fun

This year is my third year in Brisbane and it is also my third time going to The Royal Queensland Show (Ekka).

Ekka is Queensland’s largest annual event which is held over ten full days in August at the heart of Brisbane. Visitors would have a chance to experience the best of Queensland with some carnival fun, animal competitions, award-winning food and wine, stunt performance and etc.

This year was a last minute plan to go for Ekka. I bought the concession ticket online which costed me $24 (Tips: It is slightly cheaper to buy the tickets online than the ticket counter). However, you can buy even cheaper ticket from a few travel agencies if you plan to go in advance.

Photo: This strawberry sundae could be the icon of Ekka. You shouldn’t miss it as it really tastes yummy!

Photo: You would have the chance to get very close to the animals.

Photo: Horse demonstrations.

Photo: There are various types of rides to play at Ekka if you are keen. However, the entrance ticket doesn’t include playing the rides. You may have to buy individual ticket for the specific ride.

Photo: Showbag Pavillion is the place where you can buy the various types of showbags.

Photo: People were having some fun games to win the prizes.

Photo: The stunt performance at the main arena.

Photo: The stunt performance at the main arena.

Photo: My favourite session of Ekka. The fireworks at the end of the day are incredibly spectacular. You shouldn’t miss it!

Photo: Ekka is the headlines news every year.

Even though this year has already been my third time in a row going to Ekka, I still have great fun with friends!