Cultural Exchange Trip at Japan

I was so lucky to grab the last spot to participate in the University life in Japan (Oceania) programme 2016 in December which hosted by Sonoda Women’s University.

Image: Sonoda Women’s University.

This is one of the best trips in my life so far. I kind of having some Japanese culture contact since young through anime and entertainment. I have been longing to travel to Japan for a long time. I was extremely excited for the long awaited trip when I received the email from David regarding to my successful application!

On the first day of the programme, David (the person in charge) fetched us from Kansai airport to our hotel at Amagasaki. The coach journey from Kansai airport to Hanshin Amagasaki station was so enjoyable due to the excellent scenery and introduction given by David along the way. David brought us to tour around Amagasaki and introduced us some places near our hotel. I can feel the kind hospitality of Japanese from the very first day of the trip. I feel like the living expenses at Japan is similar to Brisbane. However, I was so spoilt with the various options of food and products. On the other side, the size of the accommodation is much smaller if compared to Brisbane. Regarding to the transportation, the train lines there are very confusing so do bring a map with you in case you get lost. The buses are always on time so do arrive early at the bus stop if you can’t take the risk to miss the bus.

Image: The bus and train station near to our hotel.

Sonoda Women’s University doesn’t offer as many courses as QUT so the size of the campus is also much smaller compared to QUT. We don’t have the chance to explore the student accommodation because we were arranged to stay in the hotel nearby the campus during the program.

Image: The student accommodation of Sonoda Women’s University.

I always have the interest to learn Japanese language. I have the chance to learn some basic Japanese language during the cultural exchange programme at Sonoda Women’s University. Even though there is communication problem, however Fujiwara sensei tried her best to make the class become an interesting one for us. Now I am so proud of myself because I am able to introduce myself in Japanese language. The another class I enjoyed a lot is the Japanese crafts. We learnt to make some beautiful Japanese crafts and got to bring it home as well. We got the opportunity to be clad in two types of Kimono and also being introduced about Shinto and tea ceremony. It was an interesting experience indeed to learn about Japanese culture this way. I also got the chance to handmade ichigo daifuku (strawberry mochi) and savoured it after that. It tastes so yummy and I am craving for it now.

Image: The group photo with the professor and staffs of International Students Department at Sonoda Women’s University on the first day of the programme.

Image: Having fun during Japanese craft class.

Image: Our very first Kimono experience.

Image: Having been introduced about Shinto by the priest and trying on the red and white kimono.

Image: Ichigo daifuku aka strawberry mochi making lesson conducted by the students.

The two highlights of the short-term program are the visit to primary and junior high school and the homestay at Ojiro. I am so impressed by the friendliness and discipline been cultivated in Japanese since the young age. I had so much fun while spending time with the adorable and polite students. During the homestay at Ojiro, we were so lucky to see the snow. My first snow in life was so beautiful and I will forever remember it in heart. I have been assigned to homestay at a sensei family consists of grandmother, father, mother and two little girls. My host father is a vice-principal of a primary school and my host mother is a primary school teacher at Ojiro. My two little host sisters are studying at their high school and junior high school separately. My host father tried his best to communicate with me in English and introduced me Japanese culture in English as well even though he is not familiar with the language. I got to know more about ‘yukigassen’ (snowball fighting) from him as he is one of the judge for the game. I had wonderful time spending with the family and also the visit to the primary and junior high school at Ojiro. I will definitely plan my visit to Ojiro again whenever there is a chance.

Image: The drama performance by junior high school students.

Image: My host family at Ojiro.

Image: The scenery outside of the house of my host family.

Even though the program schedule is quite packed, we still have the time to do some travelling.

The following photos are the scenery where we managed to arrange the time to travel to.

Photo: Osaka Shinsaibashi.

Image: View taken from Tsutenkaku Tower.

Image: Street view at Kyoto.

Image: Kobe Port Tower.

I am grateful for being one of the members for this cultural exchange programme. This trip gave me so many wonderful cultural exchange experiences. I cherish the rapport relationship we forged among the members and also with the host family. Big thanks to Sonoda Women’s University and the host family for hosting us so well at Japan. And also thanks QUT Global for giving us such a good opportunity to have this type of experience during our university journey. It made this trip possible for me with the bursary provided by QUT.

Image: The group photo taken at our farewell party.

I collaged some small clips during the trip into a video, here is the link for you if you are interested to know more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wptNWklDOKs&feature=youtu.be

Roma Street Parkland

Have you ever wondered where to walk around and relax in Brisbane? Or do you want to hold an outdoor event in Brisbane? Or maybe you want to do volunteering work in a parkland environment in Brisbane? Well, Roma Street Parkland is the answer!

Roma Street Parkland (ref)

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Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a sanctuary located in Currumbin, a coastal suburb in the Gold Coast region of Queensland, Australia. It has an area with 27 hectares of lush bushland to walk through. In this vast sanctuary we can meet various Australian native animals such as kangaroo, koala, wombat, dingo, emu, and many more. The sanctuary itself is open from 8.00am – 5.00pm daily.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

I got the chance to visit the sanctuary during the Gold Coast Orientation Trip with QUT on 25 February 2017. It was my first time to see many Australian native animals. I spent my time there wandering around the sanctuary to see those animals.

Kangaroo

Koala

Emu

I also watched some shows and attractions when I was there.

I had the chance to touch a kangaroo for the first time ever in my life in this sanctuary.

Me Touching a Kangaroo

All in all, it was a great and unique experience for me to visit such place because I could meet many indigenous Australian animals. The shows and attractions were also interesting. I hope I could visit this sanctuary again in the future.

CityHopper: Free Ferry Service in Brisbane

Did you know that there is a free ferry service in Brisbane? Yes, you can use a free ferry service, which name is CityHopper, if you want to travel along the Brisbane River for free. This is the only free inner-city ferry service in Brisbane. This ferry can be easily spotted by its red and white colour.

CityHopper

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First Time Travelling Outside Asia

In my life up till early 2017 I have ever been in several countries. Those countries are Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, China, Japan, Hong Kong and Indonesia (my home country). It was exciting to travel to those countries. But guess what? All of them are Asian countries which more or less have similarity in terms of the cultures, foods, and so on. I did not have the chance to travel outside Asia before.

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Fun Day Trip: Gardner’s Falls

Want an exciting, new place for a swim other than the beach? Look no further than Gardner’s Falls.

As an exchange student from the United States, I have been eager to get out and explore as much as possible in and around Brisbane. Located in Maleny, just about 90 kilometers’ drive from the city, Gardner’s Falls is exactly my ideal day trip. As much as I love the beach, it’s nice to swim in fresh water for a change. Gardner’s Falls is in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, so there are beautiful views of the mountains and surrounding land on the drive to and from the swimming hole. Once you are there, it’s a perfect location to set up camp for the day with a group of friends and have a picnic while soaking in the sun. Once you’ve had enough relaxing though… You have to try out the rope swing.

I personally am a huge adrenaline junkie, so when my friend told me there was a big rope swing we could go to, I was 100% in. It completely met my expectations too! These pictures don’t do the swing the justice it deserves. You can control how much air you get depending on how high up you perch yourself to start your swing. I may love a good thrill, but I sure am not as daring as the people doing flips off the swing. I’d rather be a spectator when it comes to those crazy feats! Be very careful if you choose to attempt any tricks when you visit Gardner’s Falls.

For those who are slightly intimidated by the height of the first rope swing, don’t fret–there’s a smaller rope swing for you to try out. Of course, the picture just so happens to be showing someone doing a flip… But no need to do anything fancy! It’s exhilarating enough to just swing through the air into the water.

If you REALLY aren’t feeling the rope swings, you can simply watch from the rocks and hang out! There were also people jumping off the rocks into the water. The water is very deep and is a safe depth to jump into. Just be sure the area you’re about to jump into is clear of any other swimmers!

Family trip in Brisbane and Gold Coast!

Brisbane and Gold Coast are two famous cities for tourists from all around the world to travel. These two cities are also the ideal traveling destinations for my family. Because I had a summer vacation and they also had holiday during lunar new year period which is the biggest festival for Taiwanese, they decided to come to Australia and travel with me. Moreover, I actually haven’t been back to Taiwan for more than one year, so it’s also the special reunion for us.

Today, I would like to share you some most-visited destinations in Gold Coast and Brisbane by a special way. I edited two vlogs about our traveling and share many important or useful information for travellers. If you are going to study at QUT or studying at QUT, it may be your travel guide for exploring these two cites when you are enjoying your holidays.

The main language of the videos is Mandarin, but I have already added English subtitles on them. No matter where are you from, hope you enjoy the vlogs!



Gold Coast

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnDBlcEAs2M



Brisbane

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkYGbM7ijQc

 

If you have any interesting experience or travel tips about these two cities, please feel free to leave your comments below for assisting more students to deeply understand these amazing cities. Also, don’t forget to keep following this QUT blog and hope everyone has a great semester! 🙂

New Year in Singapore

The famous Merlion

 

Guess where I am?

Can you recognise this Merlion?

Yes I came to Singapore. Merlion is the icon of Singapore.The fish body represents Singapore’s origin as a fishing town.

 

 

 

After my exchange in Japan and prior to my departure to Germany, I came to visit my friend Ada who’s doing an internship in Singapore at the moment and managed to catch up with two friends I met in QUT, one of them being my fellow international student blogger – Linette.

I have long been wanting to visit Singapore, a place people call Garden City and head of Asia’s financial hub.

As my friend was working most of the time, I visited a lot of places by myself. This was technically the first time that I travelled by myself. To be honest, I enjoyed it a lot. You can control your own pace and stop at places however long you want.

I spend my first day at Gardens by the Bay.

Sky trees in a rainy day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When getting out of the MRT(Singapore’s railway) station, I didn’t see Gardens by the Bay straight away. The reason I thought is that I got off one stop ahead of the stop where I was supposed to get off. So I took a stroll along the riverside and saw another Merlion and the Durian Museum.

Durian Museum

Another Merlion near Raffles Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I kept walking, I happened to see Marina Bay Sands where the famous infinity pool was located. This is the world’s largest rooftop pool. Imagining I have a hotel room there one day, I giggled and said to myself: You need to work harder and take a photo there one day.

Marina bay Sands. Does it look like a ship?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I understand why people call Singapore garden city. It is a very very small country but is also the financial centre of south east Asia. Even in the city area where there are lots of skyscrapers, plants, trees and flowers fit really well with the high buildings.

City centre where plants co-exist with high buildings.

Night view of the sky trees

Back to the MRT station from Gardens by the Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional Chinese Food Hawker Stall

China Town in Singapore

Indian Temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a lunch catching up with friends on the second day, I went to China Town and Little India to see the culture and shops. There is a very unique Indian Temple in Little India and the food was so authentic and cheap.

The third day was well spent in Singapore Zoo. It is literally the most amazing zoo that I have ever went. Not only did they have a wide range of animals, you get the chance to see them in an open environment. That is to say, sometimes monkeys walk pass on the trees beside you and there was no fence to separate you from the animals. I also saw Orangutan first time in my life. I guess you can only see them in Singapore or Malaysia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orang-utan eating food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My last day in Singapore was well spent in Sentosa Island, the southern most point in southeast Asia and at friend’s place eating traditional Chinese Sichuan style hotpot. That day was the last day of 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sentosa Island is actually a famous tourist resort where you can spend the whole week and not feel bored. They have a range of amusement facilities which include casino, cultural cuisine, 3D museums, universal studio, beaches, high-end hotels and many many more.

Due to the short time-frame, I only went to one beach that day. Luckily I went there early enough because it started raining soon after 2 pm in the afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

It started raining and a lot of people left the beach. That’s why there was nobody on the suspension bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you ask me what I miss the most from Singapore, my honest answer is food! The exchange rate of Singaporean dollar versus Australian dollar is almost 1:1. But the food there usually only costs 3-6 dollar from food court (also known as hawker centre).

 

 

 

 

 

There are quite a few exchange programs running between QUT and universities in Singapore. If some of the opportunities come up, please make sure to grab it because Singapore is truly a city worth exploring and a place you will fall in love.

 

Winter Exchange in Japan

Last year, I was very lucky to get the chance to travel and study in Japan. It has always been my dream to come to Japan since high school as I watched a lot of Japanese TV shows and wanted to experience the Japanese culture by myself. Now after almost one month of stay in Japan, I can say my Japanese improved a lot and I learnt more Japanese culture.

I came to Japan early before the start the program and went to Kyushu area for travelling. Even in winter, the mountains in Kyushu was so pretty. I still remember how nice the people I met there were. When I was trying to go to the mountain in Kirishima and was told there was no bus access, a taxi driver offered to drive me and my friend there. Not only did he charge us a little, he showed us multiple hidden spots on the mountain and tried to explain the history behind it.

As my cultural class in Amagasaki was about to start, I said goodbye to my boyfriend who was travelling with me and went to Amagasaki one day prior to the start day of the program.

This winter program consists of Japanese language study, school visits and home stay experience. I want to share with you my experience from each parts and what I learnt out of them.

Students From Brisbane and Fiji

Namba, Osaka – one of the most crowded shopping center in Japan

Japanese Language study

We are very lucky to have Fujiwara Sensei as our Japanese language teacher who is humorous and knowledgeable. Her style of teaching is very interactive and encouraging. In each of the class, we spent almost fifty percent of the time in speaking. As a result, at the end of the first week, we already known how to greet and order food in Japanese. Although the program has already ended now, I will continue learning Japanese. I hope next time when I come back to Japan, I will be able to communicate better with my Japanese friends.

Attending local students’ English class

School visits

This is another part of the program which I enjoyed a lot. We went to visited Amagasaki Junior High School for their English Festival. I was so touched by how much effort and time the students put in this festival. Both year 7 and year 8 students played skit, while year 9 students shared with us their experience in New Zealand as all of them just came back from a study trip there.

One thing I noticed from this English festival is that unlike individualism, Japanese education focuses a lot on teamwork and respect. There might be twenty students in one group and only ten characters available in a certain skit, but everyone gets the chance to go on stage and perform because one role can be played by three or four students.

Another unforgettable school visit happened in Ojiro Junior High School where we ate lunch with the students and had classes together with them. Unlike Amagasaki, Ojiro is a very small town located in the mountain with less population and colder weather.

We, as exchange students from overseas, got the chance to participate in their English and music class. The English teacher in the school told us that a lot of students there don’t have many opportunities to speak English, so they really appreciate our visiting. When the class started, each of us did a short presentation in front of the class introducing our own countries. All the students seem to be interested and took down some notes.

In the music class, the students performed a local song to us and we danced and sang What Makes You Beautiful together. It was such a wonderful time to bond together with nice music.

Visiting Amagasaki Junior High School and attending their English Festival

Home Stay in Ojiro

My first impression of Ojiro is the beautifulness and peace of this little town. I still remembered some of my friends from Australia and Fiji were so amazed by the snow on the top of the mountain because it was the first time for them to see snow.

When we arrived at the Ojiro, our host family have already been in the city hall waiting for us. All of us felt a bit nervous to be honest as most of us haven’t been living with others before. At the same time, we also wanted to know where are we going to live and know our host family better.

My host mom came to the first meeting that day as my host dad was at work. She made me completely feel at home and prepared everything for me. When host dad came home, we had a really long discussion about Japanese culture, Chinese culture and Australian culture. Both of them were really humble and asked me lots of questions. Thanks to the similarity in Kanji and Chinese character, when we didn’t understand each other by verbal communication, handwriting came into use.

At the end of the homestay, it was so hard to say goodbye to all the nice people that I have met in Ojiro. I will always remember how pretty the mountains there are, how nice the locals are and how much fun I had there!

Snow in the mountain in Ojiro

 

Homemade meal by my host mum

One month of stay in Japan is definitely an eye-opening experience for me and I really find going overseas can open your horizon a lot. So my dear reader, if you come across such kind of opportunities in the future, make sure to grab it and make the most out of it!

 

Brisbane vs Sydney: The Differences of Christmas & New Year!

There are many different ways to celebrate Christmas and New Year in Australia. Last time I wrote the “5 events on Christmas and New Year in Brisbane” which illustrated some interesting activities that students can enjoy freely. This time I would like to share some experience of celebrating my second Christmas and New Year in Brisbane and Sydney and some interesting differences between these two cities that I found.

Brisbane vs Sydney

I love Brisbane!

Well… Brisbane is more chilled out. Although you may feel Brisbane is more crowded in this holiday, it is still much better than Sydney’s situation. There are numerous tourists from all around the world visiting Sydney during Christmas and especially for the New Year fireworks. It may make Sydney much more crowded than other cities of Australia. For example, if you want a perfect view of fireworks, you should prepare for it as early as possible! On the other hand, it’s no problem for you to arrive South Bank two hours before the New Year Fireworks.

About Christmas and New Year Events

According to Brisbane government, there are around 400 events held in December for celebrating Christmas and New Year. However, most of the events are local. On the other hand, Sydney indeed has more international events during this period. Although there are some differences of events between these two cities, there is one same thing. People all feel relaxed, happy, and blessed in this Christmas month and New Year!

Actually many Asian countries also embrace and celebrate Christmas and New Year, but it is still a little bit different from western world. After I came to Australia, I gradually love the atmosphere of these festivals and strongly recommend all international students to join the local events to experience Australian culture more.

Finally, please feel free to leave your comment below and don’t forget to keep following this QUT blog! Also, I am here to wish everyone a better year! 🙂