Vietnam 2019 by Ashna Muntaza

Travelling has always been a part of life that I wanted to discover. This desire made me decide to travel miles away from Australia to Vietnam – a decision that is without an ounce of doubt one of the best I have ever made. My trip to Danang, Vietnam began on the 29th of July 2019. This two week trip was everything more than I had expected!

Being with people from all over the world not only taught me more about cultural differences but also how diverse our world is! These two weeks were intensely packed with classes and activities which made the trip wonderfully worthwhile. During the first week we went on a city tour to the famous Dragon Bridge, Marble Mountain, Hai Van Pass and the Old Buddha Sanctuary. Seeing these I was amazed at the amount of beauty hidden in Vietnam. To add to my delight, we took part in cooking classes and experienced the vast Vietnamese food culture (I can finally make their Vietnamese rolls, yaay).

A Few of the amazing places: My Khe Beach, one of the main tourist attractions in Danang. Hoi An, packed with colourful ancient night markets all lit up with traditional lanterns, fairy lights and street vendors bargaining to earn their extra bit. The Pottery village in Hoi An, all dedicated to hand made potteries giving that village a rustic ambience.

It was a delight to be in a world full of calmness, living away from the rapid, racing lifestyle that’s very common back at home. I observed how people strongly upheld their roots and traditions that were decades old. Overall, this city that is so full of artistry and tradition is a place worth visiting! Meeting the amazing people around the world makes it even more meaningful. Looking forward to more of such great experiences!

Shanghai University Engineering. Winter ’19

On June 30 2019, 24 UTS Engineering students commenced a brilliant two week course at Shanghai University. With classes in the morning and city exploration in the afternoon, their fortnight abroad went by in a flash!

Here are some short reflections from a few of the students who recently embarked on this terrific overseas experience:

From the 30th of June to 13th of July 2019, our daily schedule consisted of lectures lead by industry professionals from 8:30-11:30am. The content covered a variety of engineering related modules ranging from advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, and city infrastructure which transferred to concepts and trends taught in my own mechanical engineering degree. After lunch, we’d assemble at 1pm for site visits to relevant companies and the opportunity to discuss issues and concerns with international experts in industry. The UTS x SHU trip provided an invaluable academic and cultural experience. I am looking forward to partaking in more BUILD programs and I have been raving to other students to get involved too. – Anika Wenceslao

The comprehensive program enlightened me to a side of China not often conveyed in the Western world and has left me longing to return there and explore outside of Shanghai. I can’t help but smile when reflecting on the entire experience and was genuinely sad to return home after spending two weeks with some truly great people who I got to share the experience of a lifetime with. – Lachlan Derrig

I hadn’t travelled outside Australia in more than ten years. Going to China has been one of my favorite things I have done. Exploring new cities, meeting people, creating memories, sharing moments with strangers and friends, eating, learning. That’s how I would summarise my experience abroad. There was always something to do, to seek, to learn. I’ll admit that I was scared. Scared to leave home, scared to not know anyone, scared to navigate alone. But all things exist in contradiction. I was excited. I was excited to leave home, excited to not know anyone, excited to navigate alone. It was liberating. – Kassem Safwan

Visiting Shanghai was a very insightful and culturally eye opening experience. It was quite amazing to see a city that is almost completely cashless rely on payment methods such as WeChat and Alipay which are phone based applications in which you use QR codes to scan and then pay via an account. The best way I would be able to describe the atmosphere of shanghai, is that it is one giant factory. – Will Lazaris

Despite spending my first night sleeping at Pudong Airport, I only had good moments in Shanghai. From learning some mandarin, walking around the city and making friends with the locals, I had so many eye opening experiences. Everyday became exciting. Shanghai is an incredibly exciting and lively city. From how cheap the cost of food and living is, to how densely packed the cities of China are, you’ll never run out of things to do. I can’t wait to come back! – Nicholas Lukito

Shanghai has been an absolutely unforgettable experience. I was blown away by how much I was able to learn and experience in as little as 2 weeks. Admittedly, I was incredibly nervous before departing. I was about to embark on a trip with people I had never met, in a country I had never been. But as soon as I landed in China, that very quickly changed. From enriching cultural experiences, exploring sites such as Yu Garden and Tian Zi Fang, to insightful lectures paired with relevant company site visits, for example touring FANUC, a global robotics and manufacturing company, I can honestly say this trip had everything and more. I’m beyond grateful that I was fortunate enough to have such an incredible experience with such an incredible group of people. This program has truly exceeded my expectations and I strongly urge for students to take this rare opportunity to experience a BUILD Abroad program for themselves! – Brigitte Zappia

The key thing that I learnt through this BUILD trip is that there is a big wide world out there and that in order to understand and comprehend it, you need to see and experience it! From my journey I had the chance to experience different societal views of government and how different governments influence the lives of the people. This was something I found confronting, especially when I asked some Chinese citizens about their freedoms they either responded with “I’d rather not comment” or “It’s complicated”. All in all, going to China was an experience I will never forget, which has taught me and exposed me to so many new and exciting things and given me a desire to further travel through Asia to countries rich with culture and history. – Callum

Before I left for my trip, I set myself the goal of attempting to make my first video to capture my emotions and experiences of the trip. There aren’t many more words that I can say to do both my trip and Shanghai its true justice. However, I hope that this video does. – David Pangna

Before I left for Shanghai many of my friends and family would ask me, “Are you excited?” I often answered with an uneasy “yes” or a truthful “I honestly don’t know”. As absurd as this sounds, I was truly quite anxious to travel to China as it was my first time travelling alone to a foreign country. To save all the suspense, I had an amazing experience! Looking back on it there was no single factor or event that made this an unforgettable trip but a magical and rare combination of everything. The friendships and lessons I have learnt on this short two week trip will stay with me forever. – Veronica Gorgi

Me, Jakeb, Jess and Kassem right before getting on a Ferris wheel

As part of our program, we had the opportunity to visit many popular cultural sites. The Bund was one of these. It is a waterfront area in central Shanghai which consists of buildings that light up at night, creating a beautiful view which cannot be described with words – you just have to be there to absorb its magnificence. We also had the chance to participate in a sight-seeing cruise along the Huangpa River which exposed us to breathtaking scenery. Along this cruise we saw the Oriental Pearl TV Tower which is an iconic tower seen in many western and eastern movies, and we were given the chance to go inside it to see Shanghai from above! – Kelvin Luong

Before visiting China I always had a negative perspective of China and what they have done to the world. But, after this short program I got to listen and learn from the people there and my perspective has changed. I now look at China with an open mind. – Synat

At first I was a little nervous, I have always had a distaste for travelling in groups. There’s always the bickering and the squabbling, trying to decide where to go. But thankfully, once we started the course, our days managed to stay teetering perfectly between everyone’s preferences. One of my favourite days was when went down to Shanghai Pearl Tower. The tower gives a panoramic view of the city, where you can stare down at the people on the city floor below and watch them going about their lives. Overall the trip was super enjoyable and I hope to go on another in the future. – Nadav

Tokyo: An experience I’ll never forget

Asa Li

Over the winter I went on exchange to Senshu University in Japan and it’s a trip that I’ll never forget! From the friends that I made, to all the new challenges and experiences I faced, I learned so much from this opportunity to study abroad.

Night wanderings in Shinjuku and Harajuku

The first thing that struck me when I arrived alone in Tokyo, was how foreign everything was and how alienated I felt. Having never been overseas alone before, I’m not gonna lie, I definitely wanted to go home in the first couple of days. It was hard adjusting to not being able to understand or read anything, to not have anyone by my side that I could rely on, from being pushed so far out of my comfort zone.

However, the students at the dorm I was staying at were friendly and encouraging and I’d made some friends within the first few days. The way the dorm was structured was that an international student would room with a local student to encourage us to converse in Japanese and get to know the local students better.

Trip with friends to FUJI-Q Highland Amusement Park

The program that I attended was a 7-week intensive language course at Senshu University, Ikuta Campus in Kawasaki – about a 20-minute train trip from Shinjuku, Tokyo. The first thing I did was take a placement test, then we were placed into the appropriate class level and began our classes! With a small class of 5 people, we had classes every weekday from 9am-1pm with a 10-minute break every hour. In the afternoon, we were left to our own devices, to explore, eat, or study. It was challenging and fast-paced, however I enjoyed the teaching style and learnt so much in that immersive environment. At the end of the 7 weeks, we had to make a 6-minute presentation on a theme that we’d chosen ourselves, and I felt that my confidence and fluency in Japanese speaking had improved significantly.

Weekend trip to Kyoto

I enjoyed the lessons we had and the field trips that they took us to – to the Ghibli Museum, to Kamakura, to a tea ceremony and Kabuki performance, it was incredibly fun and eye-opening! These experiences furthered my understanding of Japanese culture and society, as well as exploring nearby neighbourhoods, night trips to Shinjuku, Shibuya, Kawasaki and so many other places, visiting temples and parks, riding public transport – it was all so overwhelming (in a positive way), and I wish I could have stayed longer. I gained so much more confidence from this experience abroad, from learning how to overcome challenges using my own initiative, communicating with a diverse range of people and continuing to challenge myself to venture outside of my comfort zone. It was a dream come true to have studied in Tokyo for those 7 weeks and I would recommend every student to take the opportunity to study abroad 🙂  

Class field trip to the Ghibli Museum!

It’s not all study! – Nepal Winter 2019

I participated in the global challenge by Unbound in Nepal, and the memories I have of my time will always be cherished. I was able to see historical sites, go on a safari, and see many spectacular views. What makes the experience so memorable is not the activities I did, but the people I met from other universities, the facilitators of the program and the Nepalese family I stayed with briefly.

I had the opportunity to work on a project focused on encouraging ethical tourism in the village of Dhulikhel. I was excited to work with like-minded individuals that were passionate about delivering meaningful value to the community we had been welcomed too. For the project, I was able to revise on existing skills I had with human-centered design and apply them to a project outside of the Australian context. Human-centered design is a series of methods that allow you to investigate problems and develop solutions. Some other team members also had pre-existing knowledge of human-centred design, which made the process of knowing how to conduct interviews, break down problems, and solve the challenge a familiar experience. As a team, we developed a strategy and proposed different project streams people could be invited to Dhulikhel to work with the community on. Our project did not have a physical outcome for a product as we developed a strategy, but we did get to visit other teams as they created bamboo prototypes to help people with farming and in schools of Dhulikhel. As it was super warm at the time we were in Nepal after long days of working on the project we got to experience swimming in the pool to relax for two of the nights.

There was still lots of time to explore the culture and sites of Nepal while working on the project. We often ate Dhal Bhat, a common household dish consisting of steamed rice and lentil soup. Some of us also had the opportunity to learn how to make momos. Being able to learn to cook momos was a highlight of my experience, even though my momos looked horrible, they tasted excellent.

Overall, the experience has taught me a lot about working on projects in a country very different to Australia and how to have fun while doing it.

~By Sophie Hawkins

Summer 2018-2019 BUILD Abroad Photo Competition Highlights

Over summer we sent 595 students on short term experiences around the world.

We ran a photo competition for these students to showcase how these opportunities impacted their summer break.

The winner of this competition has been voted by UTS International and has won a Hero5 Black Edition GoPro.

Below are some of our favourite entries, followed by our top 6 photos!

Our Runners Up

Georgina Scott – United States

“Extremely thankful for the opportunity to live and work in NYC. It’s truly incredible what you can accomplish when you step outside of your comfort zone. Feeling inspired to continue seeing the world, pushing my limits and meeting new people”

Annemarie Gad – Indonesia

“Ambon has shed light on creating change; it was a unique and practical experience making me feel like ‘I could actually make a difference’. I have learnt that it is within these complex problems that I can find a hidden gem which could be amplified to allow for a shift in a positive direction. I’m inspired to continue to find these hidden gems (like this beautiful spot found on the island)”

Chelsea Hetherington – Fiji

“My @utsbuild experience in Fiji will live in my memory forever, just like this sunset… colourful, calming, and truly magical”

Vivian Cheung – Shanghai

“The UTS BUILD Program has shaped who I am now in many different ways. By putting myself outside of my comfort zone, not only has it taught me to be patient and resilient, it has also changed my view on the world.
Growing up as an Asian Australian, going to Shanghai has allowed me to delve deeper into the Chinese culture and gain a proper understanding of my heritage. This experience has opened my eyes to a world of endless opportunities, and has made me want to further appreciate the beauty of other cultures. It has helped me grow as a person, by showing me that I can be brave enough to take a chance on the world. I too can have the power to achieve great things, be bold, fearless and strive to become a global leader.”

Jackson Elliott – Indonesia

“Would never in my wildest dreams expected to have spent 2 weeks of my summer on the small island of Ambon, Indonesia (to be honest I didn’t even know the place existed!) I went in unsure of what to expect, and man, it was beyond what I could have dreamed. Beautiful people, stunning landscapes, a gorgeous culture, and not to mention that this was completing one of my electives! I discovered how design can act as a universal language, good design can be translated to anyone. This trip and the design work I did has inspired me to look further into using my practice to make changes worldwide. Obviously this couldn’t have been achieved without @utsbuild and @newcolomboplan , so a massive thanks to them for allowing me to participate in handsdown the best thing I’ve done across 2 years of University. Everyday on that beautiful island was truely inspiring, and helped me understand how damn lucky we have it in Australia!”

And our winner is….

Diana-Ngoc Vo – Hong Kong

“After deciding not to study a semester abroad, this trip to Hong Kong was my ‘mini exchange’ that I would forever cherish. It was a step out of my comfort zone but one I have immensely grown in as a designer. A mini advice for those who are thinking of going and even for those who’s never considered it. Take that leap of faith! Jump into the unknown and explore this beautiful world, because it has so much to offer. Creativity is all around you! Be bold.”


Congratulations to Diana and all of our featured BUILD Abroaders. We hope that you have all enjoyed your summer experiences!

Allez lez Bleus!

The opportunity to travel, study and learn French in Bordeaux, France, was incredible. Undertaking the Bordeaux Institute of Technology Sustainable Development Summer School which, although was out of my direct area of study, was so interesting and relevant. Giving me an insight in to other aspects of engineering and the different contributions that these fields can have on creating a sustainable and fruitful future. Travelling with 4 other UTS students, all taking different degrees and majors, allowed for a diverse bunch of individuals to experience everything Bordeaux had to offer. Other participants of the summer school included a group from Melbourne’s RMIT university, Morocco, Norway, China and South Korea.

When you think of Bordeaux most people think of silky red wine varieties and endless plates of cheese and cold meats and this is exactly what it was. Daily! Combine this with cloudless skies, endless sunlight, with the sun setting at around 10 pm every night, and 37 degree Celsius days the stage was set for an incredible summer adventure. The relaxed culture and cheerful vibe of the Bordeaux people made it easy to feel connected and really enjoy the time spent outside of the classroom during the trip. Timing was perfect with the 2018 FIFA World Cup being held and televised throughout our stay in France. Especially with the wild success of the French national team, les Bleus! It did not take long for the UTS crew to splurge on official French jerseys to be worn throughout the final series. With jerseys on, the French tongue flowing after days of intense language lessons and sipping on Frances finest 1664 lager we blended in to the crowds and getting among the action for the finals was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. 


Inside the classroom we had some of the leading researchers and professors deliver briefs on different environmental and sustainability topics. Some stand outs include:

  • The UN Agenda for 2030 on Sustainable Development
  • Recent development in photovoltaic cells – Laurence Vigneau
  • Future of telecommunications – François Rivet
  • Sustainable Wood Production of the Landes de Gascogne Maritime Pine Forest – Florian Delerue
  • Wave-based resonant microsensors for environmental applications – Corinne Dejous

As well as these lectures, Bordeaux INP had organised many half day trips to break up the time spent in lecture halls and classrooms. We visited the Bordeaux Metropole, the architecturally impressive and futuristic wine museum, Chateau Baycheville, the waste management facility and greenhouses utilizing the processed waste to grow tomatoes that are then sold all over France. There was even a morning cooking class by the river learning the fine art of creating different French style, buttery, delicacies.

Leading into my final semester at UTS I feel so lucky to have applied and taken advantage of this opportunity. It has been one of the most impressive and incredible experiences of my time at university and encourage anyone reading this to give it a go. The places visited, the people met and the memories forged, it really was an unforgettable trip. 


– Keelan

BUILD Abroad Summer 2018-2019 Photo Competition

2017-03-30 20.17.24 1481809208508430779_utsbuild

*photo credit to Muhammed Ayob (last years winner)*

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” — Maya Angelou

An important part of becoming a global citizen and global leader is understanding the world around us and our place in it. This photo competition is a means for you to share this inspiration and maybe win our top prize while you are at it!

This competition is exclusively for UTS students approved to participate on BUILD Abroad Summer 2018-2019 programs running from 1 November 2018 until 1 March 2019.


  1. Upload your photo to Instagram (must be public in order for us to view)
  2. Add a brief caption to the photo about how your UTS BUILD Abroad Summer Program has inspired you.
  4. Follow and tag @UTSBUILD


  • Throughout the competition period, random photos will be featured as inspiration to submit entries for the competition. All photos will be credited to their owners.
  • At the close of competition, UTS BUILD will select six finalists based on the image and caption that most addresses how your UTS BUILD Abroad Summer Program has inspired you
  • The winner will be voted by UTS International.


  • One Hero5 Black Edition GoPro
  • Special mentions will be given to runners up. All photos will be credited to their owners.


  • Entries open NOW
  • Entries close on FRIDAY 1 MARCH, 2019
  • Winners announced on FRIDAY 22 MARCH, 2019


  • You MUST be participating in a supported BUILD Abroad program and must be a member of the BUILD program on CareerHub. Join BUILD now if you’ve not already done so!
  • Only submit photos that belong to you and that you have taken
  • You can post as many photos as you like until the closing date
  • Any people featured in your photo must give consent to be included in the competition submission. “People” include your friends or members of the communities you are engaged with.
  • No photographs incorporating illegal or dangerous activities will be considered
  • No photographs incorporating alcohol will be considered
  • No photographs featuring animal captivity or cruelty will be considered and your future submissions will be disqualified.
  • UTS BUILD reserves the right to deny entries where there are concerns over irresponsible or unethical behavior or tourism practices.


Please note that the photographs you submit may be used for a range of purposes, but principally for use in materials produced by UTS. This may include, but is not limited to, magazines, brochures, leaflets, podcasts, websites and other electronic media. In addition UTS may make such changes, adaptations, arrangements, deletions and additions from, in and to the photographs as it thinks fit. In exercising these rights, the university agrees not to cause changes to be made to the photographs that are of a derogatory nature.

By participating in the competition, you are acknowledging the intended uses (above) and give your permission for the photographs to be reproduced without limitation. You also agree not to seek payment from the University and release the University from any and all liability associated with the use by UTS, or a third party, of the photographs.

Aarhus Winter School, Denmark

As I was nearing the completion of my bachelors’ degree, I was reflecting on how I wish I applied for t the opportunity to go on exchange and study in a foreign country. I was excited to discover BUILD exchange and how I could take a short course and embrace a new and exciting cultural experience.


I chose to study at Aarhus University in Denmark. The subject taken over two weeks was ‘Climate Law’ with a focus on the operation of the EU and European climate policies. The classroom environment was small, relaxed and friendly with interesting lecturers. The information was a bit overwhelming for such a short amount of time but everyone was so helpful and supported each other. All other students in the course were Australia so there wasn’t really any cultural diversity between students. However, the university organised Danish activities for us to learn about the culture and Aarhus. Some of these included walking tours of the charming city, welcome breakfast and dinners, tours of ‘Den Gable’ (Old Town), art museums and campus tours. All extra curricular activities were so enjoyable and worth attending!


The city of Aarhus is the second largest in Denmark and extremely charming! Beautiful houses and streets, delicious food markets, cosy botanical gardens and amazing outdoor activities. Some of the highlights include going to the deer park where we were able to feed and pat free-roaming deers and going to Moesgaard Museum where we were able to see one of the famous Bog Bodies and learn about Viking history. Marselisborg Palace was also a highlight! The city was so safe and cosy! Staying  in a suburb with a Danish family through Air bnb truly enhanced the cultural experience. One of the hardest parts was dealing with the weather, with temperatures always being less than 1oC and a light snow, wind or rain nearly everyday. I was blessed to see the sun for two days in a row otherwise it is cloudy every single day in Denmark. The other challenge was the high cost of living. Transportation is expensive, as was food and basically everything in Aarhus and all of Denmark.


Despite the challenges, I would not trade my time in Aarhus for anything. It was a perfect way to complete my final subject for my degree. Exchange is amazing and a great excuse to speed up your course, travel and make new friends! Aarhus will always be of special meaning to me and it is a beautiful charming town. Despite loving this little city, I don’t see myself visiting again as I believe I experienced everything it had to offer! I do believe Denmark and other Scandinavian countries are well worth the visit. Overall, BUILD programs are a great opportunity to do short term exchange courses or internships and enhance your skills while creating unforgettable memories!

– Jasmina

Chinese Language and Doing Business in China

Share the experiences of three students who completed the Shanghai University-UTS SILC Winter School Program.

Group calligraphy lessons


How did this BUILD Abroad Program relate to your course or future goals?

As a business student, the SILC program offered subjects that were particularly helpful for my management course. It was basically a crash course about business in China, covering Chinese economics, human resources , and entrepreneurship, which are exactly the subjects I’m learning in the spring session. SILC allowed me to view my management course through an international perspective which will be definitely helpful for my future. The business tours SILC arranged were particularly helpful as they allowed us to see what we learnt in action ! They took us to Coca-Cola and Sinsun (a very innovative robotics company).

– Chia


What was the most memorable/impactful part of this BUILD Abroad Program?

The most memorable part of the experience was when some friends and I took the train to a city called Hangzhou, only 1 hour out of Shanghai. We spent the whole day there exploring different temples and pavilions, enjoying the views of the lake, joining in with locals dancing by the water, and of course eating delicious food! It was a little get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Shanghai and it allowed us to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture and history!

– Hugo


Is there anything that you would recommend to be changed or improved in this BUILD Abroad Program?

There is very little I would change about the experience! The program was organised well, allowing students to learn some everyday phrases in mandarin, achieve an insight into Chinese culture as well as experience one of the world’s most incredible cities! I am very grateful to the BUILD team for providing me with the opportunity!

– Luke


To find out more about SILC and other BUILD Abroad programs check out our BUILD Short-term Program Database.

Sustainable Development in Metropolitan Bordeaux

Bonjour Madame, Monsieur,

Hello, I’m Celina, back from a BUILD Abroad Trip in Bordeaux, France, a region very well known for its wine. During June-July 2018, I attended a Summer School run by the Bordeaux Institute of Technology where I studied ‘Sustainable Development in Metropolitan Bordeaux’. The main topic the subject revolved around, was sustainable development and the consequences of global warming and so we learnt and saw how Bordeaux Metropole tackled relating issues in the surrounding region. Its move towards sustainable development policies, education and research to implement initiatives that created a greener and better quality of life to its citizens.

Whilst this was outside my topic of study, they provided eye-opening information on how we can adapt and live a greener life. For example, in France, two years ago on the 1st of July 2016 they banned plastic bag use in supermarkets whereas this has just been implemented in New South Wales. They have also implemented policies to reduce traffic entering the city and making it more accessible and inviting for pedestrians. In addition to sustainability subjects we were also given French lessons. Our daily French lessons also meant that we got settled in relatively quickly, picking up enough French to get around and order food, albeit a bit awkwardly at first.  Learning a language in the country it is spoken in is an experience I’d recommend to anyone, it is a much faster paced learning experience, not in the meaning that you are rushed but because you need to use it all the time outside of class, we all picked up the language relatively quickly.

Outside of class, Bordeaux Institute of Technology had also organised cultural events, starting off with Wine and Cheese, there were also cooking lessons, a tour of the Museum of Wine and finally finishing off the Summer school with a farewell dinner. And these weren’t all, as a class we also organised outings into the city, a trip to a music festival, a ballet and a tour of the vineyards with some wine tasting at an estate in Saint Emilion, a region near Bordeaux also famous for its red wine.

Overall with daily sessions and dinner meetups it wasn’t hard before the group of us were fast friends even with our varying backgrounds in study and origin. I now have new friends from China, Korea, Morocco as well as students from RMIT in Melbourne. This trip is an unforgettable experience I’d recommend to anyone willing to give it a go.