Conservation in Costa Rica

Never had I set foot in the Americas before my 3 week Costa Rican summer adventure. In January 2019 I set off to study Conservation Marine Biology at Universidad Veritas in San José, the capital city of Costa Rica. During the program I lived with a homestay family along with a few other students doing the same program as me, and some American students on various other programs. The centre of my homestay family was our host mum Myrna, or as she insisted we call her, ‘mamatica’ (meaning Costa Rican mum) and her endearing, roughly barrel-shaped miniature poodle Tammy, who no one was entirely convinced wasn’t a sheep (photos below for reference).

Our lessons in the on-campus part of the program were spent at the university in ‘BioMol’ (Veritas’ molecular biology lab). Classes included lectures and various activities from shark taxidermy (for the upcoming ‘Shark Week’ public education outreach program in Costa Rica) to extracting shark DNA from fins and performing a polymerase chain reaction to identify species.

We got to witness marine conservation and protection practices firsthand on two field trips north of San José. The first was to Paquera in the Puntarenas region of Costa Rica, where we spent our days in Curú Wildlife Reserve, becoming accustomed to protecting our bags from the stealthy raccoons and white-faced capuchin monkeys that lived there. Each day brought new incredible experiences; snorkelling in the warm waters around Isla Tortuga, watching the sun go down while eating fresh pineapple on a beach dotted with hermit crabs, and swimming in the Reserve at night to see bioluminescence exhibited by tiny marine organisms under a sky full of stars. These activities were enhanced by on-site lectures about the biodiversity present within the Reserve and efforts to protect it.

Our second field trip saw us headed to El Jobo, Guanacaste, located close to the Costa Rican border with Nicaragua. We spent most of our time there capturing rays for data collection and identification purposes; tagging, measuring and taking tissue samples, before returning them to the ocean. There was also plenty of snorkelling, a day of sea turtle capture and release for tagging and extraction of tissue samples, and a day of beach cleaning with local children that were participating in a program with NGO Equipo Tora Carey. The absolute highlight of the whole trip came after watching the sun go down, however, as we were lucky enough to be part of an Equipo Tora Carey conservation initiative, releasing baby sea turtles on the beach.

Before I left to go on the program, I had been researching Costa Rican culture, history and the country’s reputation as a global leader in environmental policy. I then had the pleasure of watching what I had read about come to life during my time there. From the incredible biodiversity and beautiful scenery, to the cheerful, relaxed vibe of the people, to the entirely different style of teaching, to the never ending supply of ‘gallo pinto’ (beans and rice) to seeing local environmental initiatives wherever I went, Costa Rica was an incredible place to study, travel and experience a culture so different from my own.

Pura Vida
– Ayla

India 2019: A Summer of Social Research

A brief reflection of my time in Bangalore (February 2019).

As I look back on my experience as a student fellow for Pollinate Energy in Bangalore, I’m reminded of how naive I was to the world of s social development. My research in the classroom could not have prepared me for what I would encounter during my time in India, from extreme poverty to the mechanics of a social enterprise. It was only through the challenges of working as a social researcher in Bangalore’s urban slums that I was able to understand just how my university studies inform my path as a social researcher and a global citizen. The lessons that I learnt on the trip are sure to stay with me for a long time, and I hope that going forward I will be more informed as to the potential that my degree has in creating social and political change, no matter how seemingly small.

Lessons in Social Research

As a Social and Political Sciences student, I have often found myself in pursuit of a disconnected and detached approach to my research, mostly in part from my desire to protect the quality and the integrity of objective research, but some, I must admit, from a sense of boredom and detachment from my subject material. My experience working as an Student Fellow for Pollinate Energy in Bangalore allowed for me to address my own assumptions about working as a social researcher as it provided me with the opportunity to work directly alongside people living in slum communities in Bangalore and witness first hand just how the people living in this communities faced daily difficulties that I took for granted. As a social researcher for Pollinate Energy, the experience was invaluable, as it allowed for me to understand the needs of these people in community while also developing products that could best address them. Further, it taught me as a social researcher there is always a need to balance one’s own emotional engagement with a sense of detachment in order to work objectively and fairly in the field. While I found this to be one of the most difficult parts of my trip, the experience taught me first hand just how valuable this skill is for a researcher, one I am sure which will help me with the rest of my studies and my career. The quote, “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will” by Gramsci comes to mind, as it serves as a reminder of my role as a social researcher working in developing countries. That is, to be a scientist that sees the subject matter objectively, without hidden biases and with a sense of clarity, however, whilst also maintaining a sense of optimism that change can be achieved within these communities.

Lessons in Cross-Cultural Communication

Perhaps the most challenging aspects of my time in India was trying to overcome the language barrier out on the fields. At first, I did struggle with how I would be of value to Pollinate Energy as I was unable to speak Kannada, the local language, and many of the locals were unable to speak English. However, after a few days out on the fields, I gradually became more comfortable speaking to the locals, often relying on body language or eye contract. This helped me establish a bond with the locals, and I was able to continue my research. I also managed to pick up a few phrases in Kannada which was very helpful!

Lessons in Life

The lessons learnt during my time in India were seemingly infinite. However, if I do part with a few words of wisdom, they are this:

  • Always order the ‘Mild’ option for curry when in India. Seriously.
  • Take the time to get to know not just fellow UTS students on the trip, but also interact with International Fellows. Their experience was invaluable to me, and I learned a lot about life as a university student in Bangalore.
  • Throw yourself into as many experiences as possible, it’s an exhausting two weeks, but you’ll thank yourself later.
  • Take the time to reflect on your experience as you go, even if its just a few lines at the end of every day.
  • Learn a few phrases from the local language.
  • Take lots of photos! But be careful when taking photos of local people. Make sure that you are respectful when doing so, and ask for permission first!

 – Carla

My summer in Buenos Aires

The start of a new journey always begins with a feeling of apprehension and doubt and, I must say, I wasn’t an exception to the rule. The night before leaving I was already starting to think that a month would be pretty long! How little did I know that this experience was going to change me and make me evolve in ways I wouldn’t have thought of.

After a 17hr flight, I was tired but relieved to finally arrive in Buenos Aires. On my way to the hotel, I found myself dumbstruck by the beauty of the city. Buenos Aires by night is impressive, all the monuments and old edifices were enlightened which gave them a majestic appearance and, with the circulation being surprisingly calm, it seemed that time had stopped. The excitement had replaced the nervousness and I was fully ready for the journey.

The first week I could meet my classmates, our teacher and start the intensive Spanish classes at UCA. I was happy to meet people with the same passion for travel and motivation to learn Spanish. I was also able to make my first steps in the city and immerse myself in the Latin culture. Everything was new and I loved it, I felt alive and was eager to learn more about my surroundings.

As the weeks progressed, so did my understanding of Buenos Aires. People had a different way of apprehending life and its situations, and I tried to adapt myself to this new way of life. I was really proud of the progress we all made in learning Spanish, the hard work was paying off and we were starting to be able to express ourselves and listen to native speakers. Visiting the emblematic places of the city and learning about the person who shaped it was fascinating.

FLORALIS GENÉRICA
RECOLETA CEMETERY
EVA PERÓN

Sooner than expected, the journey came to an end as I enjoyed my last week in Argentina. I was able to learn about myself and others, open my mind to a new culture and make long lasting friendship. This experience made me gain confidence, develop my empathy and shape my future as a global citizen.

Marion Boimond

Innsbruck: a month that’s changed my life

In January 2019, I packed my bags and headed to Europe. I was going to Innsbruck, Austria, to study their Engineering and Business Winter Program. The feeling was unnerving but exhilarating. As my travels started, the excitement grew, and as soon as I got to Innsbruck, I knew I could see myself living here.

Beautiful architecture, water ways and mountains, everywhere you look in Innsbruck.

Innsbruck is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The buildings are riddled with culture and history; the food is phenomenal and the people are lovely. Austrian culture is extremely friendly, yet professional; so it was very comforting as a young solo traveller to be welcomed into a culture that felt very safe and supportive.

Innsbruck itself is really small, but has literally everything you need; which gives a really intimate, safe and inclusive feeling. Everything is within walking distance and the scenery is phenomenal. I would have to allow an extra 15 minutes walking everywhere, because I always stopped to take photos of the mountains.

Standing at the top of one of the buildings in the main street, overlooking the main town and the views of the mountains.

Geographically speaking, Innsbruck is in an amazing location, where the other students and I were able to travel together to Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the rest of Austria, on weekends. So not only was I able to experience living in a beautiful European town, but I was able to experience other cultures and countries; from villages in the mountains to major cities.

Studying at the Management Center Innsbruck

The study program was really well structured and a fantastic learning experience. There was a small group of us from around the world participating in this program, and the staff were really organised in making sure we were well acquainted. So we became very close, which has given me a global network now.

Each week we had a different subject, which worked really well with the structure of the program. One of my favourite things was that each subject was taught by a different expert from around the world; so you were taught by very knowledgeable and engaging staff with a lot of global experience.

I studied entrepreneurship, innovation and start up subjects; which was an amazing opportunity to develop and further any ideas I have of my own. As well as develop my business knowledge. I also studied Biotech Product Operations, which was fantastic for me as a Biomedical Engineering student. At UTS, we learn about global processes and standards/regulations; but to be in Europe and seeing these processes first hand, was a very different, beneficial learning experience.

I enjoyed my experience at the Management Center of Innsbruck so much, and was sad to leave; but I know I will be back one day. I have developed so much as a person, and have a new appreciation of the world. If ever given this opportunity, I highly recommend you do it too!

-Louise

Shanghai: An immersive cultural experience

On the 1st of December, I packed my bags ready to depart Australia for the first time and undergo a two week BUILD Abroad program in Shanghai, China. This was my FIRST time travelling overseas, and it got my parents a little bit worried as to how I would manage my safety and communicate in a country that I was not yet fluent in. Regardless of these issues, I was excited to move out of my comfort zone, and explore a new culture that had given rise to my curiosity. While Trump, Australian politics and the media have painted China in a bad light, I was determined to embrace what China has to offer. With an expanding influence in the world, China was a country that I needed to see.

Chinese language and business classes

As part of our program, we were given classes in the morning where we learnt basic mandarin phrases for everyday use. As I have already been undertaking Chinese language studies I found these classes to be more of a revision of what I’ve already learnt. Despite all of my preparation and studies, I still found that my Chinese was lacking, evident through my inability to understand the salesperson or the waiter. There were times when I was alone, where my inability to communicate or understand, caused frustration within me. But, I understood that being in a foreign land, English would obviously not be the first language spoken here, so I still made an effort to speak some Chinese, even if it sounded off. Despite the communication barriers, I found myself lucky to have a friend who could speak Chinese. She became our interpreter throughout the trip, and made this experience far less stressful.

Moving on…

Our Chinese classes were accompanied by business classes which delved into Chinese culture, entrepreneurship and logistics. Although business is not my cup of tea, I appreciated the insights as it broadened my global knowledge. Out of all of the topics studied, I found Chinese business culture the most interesting. It confirmed how influenced I have become through my Asian upbringing as I found myself aligning with the cultural patterns of the Chinese.

Cultural and business trips

In order to engage with the local culture, we were taken to the ancient town of Suzhou. It was breathtaking and aesthetic. I loved everything from the traditional gardens, the alleyways, and the silk stores that lined the streets. Plus, who can forget the canals that make you feel like you’ve riding through Venice, but without the singing. One of the gardens we visited was the Lion Grove Garden. It was fascinating to observe the architecture and interior of a wealthy home that was adorned with spiritual meaning. The garden itself, was beyond describable. It had its own pond, a mini waterfall, and huge rocks that you could climb in a maze-like labyrinth. While Shangahi offers a city landscape and towering skyscrapers, Suzhou offers a quiet retreat into the past. Definitely worth a visit.

On the second week, we visited a local neighbourhood community. We were given a tour of their local museum where we revisited its modest beginnings. There was also a small cinema inside, where we watched an unforgettable and cringey short film. Following the museum we were taken to what seemed like a community centre, and listened to the beautiful old choir sing. It sounded like heaven. We then saw some old people play tennis table in a very competitive manner which I have never seen before. My passive tennis table skills were no match for them. Afterwards, we were taken to a local home where we learnt how to fold a dumpling and eat a massive meal. Overall it was a good experience to quietly appreciate local life.

Bao Steel Company

To experience a local business industry, we were given a tour of the Bao Steel Company. It is the leading steel manufacturer in China, and is the 5th largest steel producer in the world. The production of steel was fascinating to watch, and seemed to run smoothly through the machines. Unfortunately, I can’t really explain the process, but there is a lot of fire and water involved. There is also a small zoo nearby, which is used to test the air quality so that the company is conscious of any pollution to the environment. While this trip was interesting, it wasn’t as fun as the other trips.

Overall…

China has been an exciting journey filled with friendships, shopping, exploring and lots of food. Immersing in Chinese culture through archery, martial arts, calligraphy and painting was an exciting way to enjoy what China has to offer. I fell in love with the huge metro stations, the huge shopping malls, the cheap food and the nightlife. It is such a different landscape from Australia, and I took every scenery with interest. Certainly, this experience has fuelled my curiosity to travel the world, and gain global knowledge and cultural awareness.

Yaminn Oo

China: A Landscape of Cultural, Geographical, and Authentic Beauty

“Every exit is an entry somewhere else.” – Tom Stoppard

Since I set foot out of the taxi from the airport, Shanghai immersed me in its great abundance of culture present on every street. Shanghai a city likened to a relatively clean and amazingly safe ‘Asian New York’, is usually bustling till late (bar Chinese New Year) and always ripe for exploration.

Going from 30 degree beach days to a city where evenings can be 1 degree, was not easy, you’re constantly in consideration about the summertime fun your buddies at home are having. (but) The considerably meager cost of living in China for necessities sprinkled on top of the main course of the rich and inviting cultural experience China has to offer had me feeling at home within my first few days.

The delicious hot noodle soups, freshly made dumplings, and hot tea warmed me right up every day. And though I usually say I’m not a winter person, I learned to enjoy the cold as I found it great to cycle and walk around in, whilst snug indoors.

Contrary to expectations, Chinese workplace culture is relatively casual and relaxed, however, people are less ‘lively’ and more focused on the task when inside the workplace. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the company of the various personalities at my workplace and spent many a lunchtime with them.

During Chinese New Year I went on an eventful 3-day hiking tour to a rural tea farming town, called Suichang with a fellow Australian student from Melbourne. And then traveled to Beijing on China’s bullet train system.

By the end of my trip, I became accustomed to Shanghai as it was starting to feel like a second home. I had spots where I was a scheduled regular and haunting grounds where I’d go for certain bargains; had made plenty of brief friendships with those ranging from work colleagues to other international foreigners along the way. My most significant take away would be an appreciation of the strong pride and love for heritage and nation the people of China have with one another, which became somewhat contagious.

Manish Seneviratne

Huawei’s ‘Seeds for the Future’ in China

New Opportunities Abroad

Never did I imagine that my first trip to China and first study abroad experience would be under Huawei’s awesome global initiative: Seeds for the Future (24 November – 13 December). With the support of the Australian government’s New Colombo Plan, it was an invaluable unique experience of Chinese culture, ICT education and fun — with 28 other selected students from 6 Australian universities, as well as 10 Finnish students.

As an Australian-born Chinese-Korean it was a great opportunity to engage with my Chinese culture and thus understand myself better while expanding my worldview. From the standpoint of a B. Science (Mathematics)/B. Creative Intelligence and Innovation student, I applied for this program online in order to network, gain insight into emerging ICT technologies and Huawei – one of China’s most successful international enterprises.

Climbing to Great Cultural Heights 

From climbing the Great Wall of China in Beijing on day 1, to sightseeing from the top of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong on the final day, we reached great heights of Chinese culture, immersed in foods, music, education, the language, and cultural heritage sites.  In the bulk of the first week of Seeds for the Future we studied Mandarin and calligraphy at Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU). But by night we visited Olympic Green and Tiananmen Square via the efficient subways. 

Our language studies were useful when it came to ordering food at the hectic BLCU cafeteria and haggling at the world’s greatest electronics markets in Shenzhen. Even the songs we learnt in class were practical, including ‘Péngyŏu’ (‘Friends’) which we sung at karaoke in Shenzhen and video recorded to send to our Mandarin teacher through WeChat.

Adapting to china and its technologies

Since Google and social media like Facebook are blocked in China unless you have a VPN, WeChat was our main form of online communication and came in handy for translating Chinese text in images like the app ‘Dear Translate’. China’s e-commerce is widespread such that some places are cashless — some vending machines only accept WeChat (pay) or Alipay. For future BUILD Abroad students, especially those interested in bargaining at shopping markets, I recommend downloading a currency converter calculator app.

Huawei Factory Tour

Another way we adapted to China was by drinking bottled water rather than tap water to avoid diarrhoea although Shenzhen particularly and Beijing were cleaner than expected. It was noted how ubiquitous security cameras with facial recognition technology were. We even saw their represented dots dispersed all over a map of Shenzhen at one of Huawei’s exhibition halls. At Huawei’s HQ we learnt more in lectures about emerging ICT technologies (i.e. 5G, Cloud, AI, IoT) from the second week onwards in Shenzhen.  By gaining VIP access to Huawei’s factories and R&D centres in addition to visiting BYD with informative tour guides, we were exposed to a snapshot of Huawei’s business and work environment, the production of technologies, and the future of public transport.

Highlights in Beijing & Shenzhen

Although we consumed much food for thought envisioning the future of Australia’s ICT industry, one thing I’m sure we all miss is the communal dining and buffets offering various authentic Chinese dishes while we got to know each other better. A favourite was a hot pot place in Shenzhen where we ordered noodles, plus an unexpected performance of a handmade noodle dance. Simultaneously, there was a costume clad performer that changed masks to the beat of instrumental music.  Another highlight was the Shenzhen Civic Light Show which was a spectacular colourful light show forming animations across buildings for 15 minutes, ending with the bright phoenix representing the innovative city. Other hotspots we explored included Forbidden City, Oct Bay and Splendid China Folk Village.

Yet what stands out are the small moments of kindness and friendly interactions with the Chinese locals and my fellow Seeds for the Future participants and staff: helping a Chinese woman with directions prior to the Melbourne debriefing although neither of us could speak the other’s language so we used a translating recording device; a couple of Asian-American exchange students showing me how to use a cashless vending machine and shouting me milk tea; the Mandarin teacher translating my given Chinese name to ‘Grace’/kindness/mercy; our group musical performance of ‘I still call Australia home’ at the closing ceremony; and at the hotel watching ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ as well as playing cards with peers whom I’ve befriended.

Cheers to hot pot!

Connections make the world go round

Throughout the program I formed new valuable friendships and fond memories with like-minded passionate people I’m glad to have met. Through my cultural and study experiences in China and exposure to Huawei’s business and innovative ICT technologies I have developed skills that I can apply to my university studies and gained insight into the nuances in Chinese culture and capabilities of the ICT industry. Thanks again to Huawei for this amazing unforgettable journey that has opened up more opportunities for me and encouraged me to continue to challenge myself and expand my worldview.

Cassandra Phoon

B. Science (Mathematics)/B. Creative Intelligence and Innovation

A Village Amongst Mountains

Incredible India. The slogan of a nation. But why is that descriptor globally accepted as means to define such a diverse society of people? In the month leading up to my BUILD Abroad experience, I travelled across four different states of India, in constant awe of the changing landscape, culture and people.

Being the child of new immigrant parents in Australia, I always struggled to correlate my identity with the view of my birth country, and my place in the world. I am Fiji-Indian, neither Fijian or Indian -nor Australian in a whole- but rather crescents of each fitted to make a circle. Without getting too philosophical, I was disorientated about who I am, and what that meant for who I want to be.

In some ways I saw my first ever trip to India as a salvation, an opportunity to discover some underlying truth left by my ancestors. Yet what I was met with was so many different Indian people identifying within their states, alongside their heritage.

It slowly dawned on me that the question I’ve been trying to answer was inside me all along. The revelation that I could create my own private, personal traditions was alleviating. That the dhal bhat in me could coexist alongside the sausage sizzle (a weird analogy, I know).

This understanding can be encapsulated no better than during my time in a rural Maharastran village, a place surrounded by mountains that held stories of roaming tigers and leopards, Sonoshi.

Sonoshi is a tribal village with some of the most extraordinary people I will ever meet. I can’t think of how to describe them but strong. Intrinsically and extrinsically, true strength was shown within every single family in countless forms.

A grandmother carrying a pail of water even as her walking stick falters, a mother carrying her child up and down a mountain, a father working from dusk to dawn farming, a teenager travelling for two hours by foot just to get to school or a child learning schoolwork in Marathi and English.

In every aspect of their corner of the world I was met with an inspiring resilience that I never could have expected.

My preconceptions about what a rural village would be like was absolutely blown away by the women of Sonoshi. With agriculture being the predominant profession for livelihood, the women raised entire families whilst working hard in the farming months, conducting their own businesses or even studying for a higher education.

Their roles as mother, wife, sister and daughter impacted me greatly, and I was touched by the close relationships found between neighbours. I observed a keen sense of inherent womanhood at the forefront of their identity, showing itself through constant laughter and love, flowing through these women to each other.

The people of Sonoshi have a firm belief in their tribal customs and culture, with a connection to the land that has religious ties. Exploring their tribal Hinduism was intensely interesting, and we were lucky enough to be in the village for the festival, Makar Sankranti, which with colours, sweets and many nights of singing, gave us a glimpse into their wonderful sense of community.

It was fulfilling to be amongst people who held their religion and culture so dear to them, and their openness to sharing their stories and knowledge with hospitality has genuinely taught me to be a better person.

I will always consider my time in Sonoshi to be a privilege, and I still don’t feel quite right about leaving it behind. I was exposed to such a different way of life, and was taught how to be empathetic and open to each new experience and connection with the Drishtee Immersion program.

As part of an ongoing initiative, I worked on an education program around water safety, that touched close to home for me. I remember a poignant moment where I was delivering the presentation that we had been culminating over the prior days, to a family and their children. These were the kids that had come to our home every day and made origami with me. Had put up with my broken Hindi and even worse Marathi to ask me questions and get to know me. We had played musical chairs, helped them with homework and braided each other’s hair.

So seeing them in front of me at that moment, showing them the diseases existing within the water that they were drinking everyday, and being able to provide a real, safe alternative was monumental.

The Drishtee Immersion covered so much ground with the three week program, I simply cannot do it any form of justice. The team makes real efforts to understand perspectives and use that create improvements for the quality of life of thousands of people. Being a part of that has truly enhanced my worldview for good, and I will be forever grateful for it.

So thank you to the Drishtee Immersion, and the people of Sonoshi, you are all who make India incredible.

By Jenivy Sewak.

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Pandas, Needles and Chilli

This was my first time going to Chengdu. I was born in Guangzhou, grew up in Shanghai and spent the last forty plus years in Sydney. And so, having spent more of my life in Australia than China, the chance to go back to China to study Traditional Chinese Medicine was a dream come true for me. Visiting Chengdu and getting to know the locals & members of the university there a humbling and inspiring experience. We were fortunate enough to be able to learn from world-class professors in their specialised fields. We found the locals there friendly, welcoming, honest and kind.

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This is one of the famous night views of the Anshun Bridge

In addition to having the opportunity to hone our acupuncture, Tui Na (pressure point massage) and herbal medicine skills for six weeks, we also managed to enjoy the unusual local delicacies and visit, among many other places, the Panda Sanctuary that saved the Pandas from extinction.

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A rather happy Panda at the Panda Sanctuary

Now, for the local delicacies: the Sichuan region, in which Chengdu sits, is (in)famous for their spicy “ma-la” food (literally numb-spicy in Chinese). Ma-la food almost always contains two ingredients: fiery dried chillies and Sichuan peppercorns which have a numbing effect on the tongue (but not for long). For a person who is unable to eat even the slightest hint of spice, I imagined that this would prove rather difficult in terms of finding restaurants that did not lace almost everything with chilli.

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Super spicy “ma-la” soup for dipping skewers (chuan chuan) with meat and vegetables in

Much to my surprise and relief, there was a small restaurant not far from the university that served a large variety of traditional dishes that were not spicy.

During the final week of our program we also found an incredible Buddhist vegetarian restaurant that does two different kinds of buffets (one vegetarian dishes and the other was a vegetarian hotpot) on the ground floor and a la carte on the top floor. This restaurant is situated right next to the Wenshu Monastery which worth visiting even if you don’t eat there.

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Vegetarian food at the Wenshu Monastery

Apart from gorging ourselves on the local delicacies, I also gained a deeper understanding about the importance of food as a medicine. As the climate in Chengdu is rather wet and overcast, the consumption of large amounts of chillies helps to offset the effects of living in high humidity. All in all, words are insufficient to express how much I would recommend anyone thinking of undertaking an exchange program to do so. As Nike so succinctly puts it: “Just Do It”.

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Myself in the Taoist temple

Rosemary Yim

Spending Summer in Shanghai

Through Immerqi and UTS BUILD I was given an opportunity to undertake an internship in Shanghai, I had family in Shanghai, so this trip would cover multiple bases.

My flight arrived in Shanghai early which was nice but when I came out of the airport it was sub 10 degrees which was quite a drastic change from the 30+ degrees weather I had experienced before I left Sydney.

The next day was orientation at Mandarin House, where I’d be taking Chinese classes twice a week for the next 6 weeks. Since I wasn’t staying at the university accommodation this would also be the first time meeting the Immerqi staff and the other UTS students who took this summer program. The orientation was a briefing of each company, the methods of transport to take, etiquette in China, protocol if anything went wrong and Chinese class timetable.

After the orientation we went to have lunch at the Shimao Festival City, a large shopping centre on the famous Nanjing Road. There was a 30-40-minute wait for the restaurant we went to, but it gave us an opportunity to explore the shopping centre. When out table was ready it was in a boat, it was a cool concept however it was a tight fit with 8 people. The food was good delicious and quite unique, hadn’t seen most of the dishes before.

boat

Following lunch, we went for a walk down Nanjing Road exploring a bit and taking some photos, it had been raining so it was still a bit wet and the weather wasn’t too great. The end of Nanjing road was The Bund where Oriental Pearl Tower and Shanghai Tower resided, however due to fog the view was obstructed, the view of the bay was still quite nice, and the area was quite packed with tourists.

foggy SH

During the weekend I would just prepare for my first week of my internship, as I was unpacking I realised I had forgotten to pack my laptop charger, something that would be vital during my time in China. Luckily, I saw an Apple Store on Nanjing Road, so I headed there on the weekend.

The Immerqi program consisted of interning Monday-Friday from 9:30am to 6pm, and Chinese classes on Monday and Wednesday classes, with the weekends free. Waking up early and working 8 hours a day made me appreciative of the weekend. I was fortunate to have a friend from Australia who was in Shanghai when I was, he was able to show me around to new places, we had a fancy hotpot afterwards walking to West Nanjing Road where we went to the biggest Starbucks in Shanghai which was connected to a major shopping centre in the area.

I was there for Chinese New Year, which in China is a public holiday for the whole week. The briefing suggested that many people left the Shanghai to go overseas and it would be like a ghost town, I didn’t believe this until I saw it, a busy street crowded with cars and people was deserted during Chinese New Year. There was a lot of celebrations and promotions that week, it felt like an Eastern Christmas which lasted the whole week.

lanterns.jpg

The internship was good experience and was able to learn a lot about the marketing industry and working in China, I was also able to improve my Mandarin through the Chinese classes. It was definitely a good way to spend the summer.

me

Kuang Wu