2 weeks at Mitsui & Co. Japan ✹🎐

This July I participated in the Mitsui Immersion Program run by Mitsui & Co., a huuuge Japanese sogo shosha (global comprehensive solution provider) with connections around the world – including (most importantly) Australia!

I and 13 other students (6 UTS, 7 UWA, 1 UoN) spent 2 weeks in the heart of Tokyo – a pleasant 10 min walk from Mitsui’s headquarters. During that time, we attended various seminars run by Mitsui employees and managers, allowing us to gain insight into the inner-workings of the company. It was fascinating (particularly from a science-IT background) to learn about how a large company like Mitsui is able to manage its many business units, ranging from natural resources and mining, to lifestyle/health and startup business development. And at the heart of it all are Mitsui’s core values:

  • Challenge and Innovation
  • Open-mindedness
  • Mitsui is people 🙂

Prior to this program, I was admittedly unaware of Mitsui’s involvement in Australia. However, my perspective quickly changed following the seminars which specifically detailed Mitsui’s various business ventures in Australia, such as Shark Bay Salt Mine (100% Mitsui owned).

In addition to the seminars, we also…. visited the Edo Museum in Tokyo, where we learnt about former Mitsui’s beginnings as a family-run kimono store (Mitsui’s logo is in fact the original family emblem or kamon); visited Mitsui’s new incubation hub, Moon Creative Lab, which aims to create and develop new innovative business ideas; and, had the chance to meet-up with students from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, learning about each other over some fun team-building activities and lunch!

At the Edo Museum – a replica of former Mitsui’s textiles store which revolutionised how kimono was sold, making it more affordable and thus accessible.

At Moon Creative Lab located near Harajuku, where we got to meet some very inspiring people!

Group photo with some students from TUFS, featuring our (toppled-over) spaghetti/marshmallow tower in the bottom right.

After some intense learning the first week (including a group presentation), the majority of our second week involved site visits! There were quite a few, so here’s a photo summary:

At the Australian Embassy in Tokyo with the Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Court.
We learnt about Mitsui and Japan’s ties with Australia, and got to network with Embassy members whilst drinking tea/coffee out of super fancy teacups!

At Kashima Port, a little north of Tokyo. We were given a ferry ride around the port filled with massive ships and processing facilities – in particular, a salt processing facility with tonnes and tonnes of salt all the way from Shark Bay! (below)



At Kimitsu Steel Mill – this is a photo of one of the blast furnaces in operation (it was unbelievably huge). It was fascinating to see how iron ore is turned into steel, and a very intense experience watching red-hot steel charge down a conveyor belt.

The view from Umihotaru, an over-engineered rest stop on the Tokyo Bay Aqua-line Expressway, with multiple restaurants, a food court, an arcade and of course, a 7-Eleven.

Early morning buying ‘ekiben’ for our trip to Nagoya via Shinkansen!

Posing at the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology after a fun time exploring the museum’s plethora of exhibits. Prior to this, we visited the Toyota Exhibition Hall where we received a tour of the nearby Toyota Factory, seeing the production line for Lexus and other high-end Toyota models.

In true Japanese-businessman style, we ended one of our site visits with after-work drinks at an Izakaya.

But then it was back to work. For the last two days of the program we were split into 2 groups and tasked with creating a presentation showcasing what we had learnt, as well as pitching a potential business venture Mitsui could take that would also benefit Australia. It was a stressful 2 days, between the trials and tribulations of coming up with a business idea, and the pressure of having to speak in front of senior Mitsui executives and Australian/Japanese government officials.

Hard at work >:|

Luckily, everyone was impressed with our presentations and the program ended with smiles all around 🙂 – as well as tears, once we realised it was coming to an end.

At the closing reception – group photo with one of our HRD supervisors, Kaz.

Thank you to everyone at Mitsui and UTS, as well as the Japanese and Australian governments for making this program possible! It was an amazing experience that resulted in life-long relationships, valuable connections and unforgettable memories. It has undoubtedly helped me develop as a business professional through teaching me about Japanese business philosophy – knowledge which will definitely come in handy should I decide to work in Japan one day!

With that said, I encourage anyone who is interested in Japan to apply for this program if you get the chance! 🙂


Extras:

We were given free time on the weekends to explore Tokyo. Here are some snippets of what we got up to…

Summer in Japan means festivals! This was at Yasukuni Shrine during the Mitama Festival, where people go to honour their ancestors and the spirits of the dead, lighting hundreds of lanterns.

Tanabata Festival at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo.

Shinkyo Bridge in Nikko, which is home to a collection of World Heritage listed Shrines dating back to the 17th century. 

A massive Sakura tree within the Imperial Villa Memorial Park (also in Nikko). Just imagine how it would look in spring..!!

Not the food photo you were expecting, huh? 😏
This was a Magicarp-themed ‘taiyaki’ from Akihabara.


— Sofia Oldman, Bachelor of Forensic Science (Digital Forensics) / BA in International Studies (Japan)

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

Memories of the Alhambra. Universidad de Granada

You know that feeling when you just know that in that moment, you were supposed to be at that certain place at that specific time? Well that’s how I felt after a week in Spain.

Prior to my abroad experience I kept thinking “I shouldn’t be going on another holiday, it’s irresponsible… I need to start saving more money”  and “What if something happens to me while I’m overseas?!”. Of course I knew I was just being paranoid, but I couldn’t help how I was feeling. The day of my departure, I almost didn’t even make my flight as I was running late, maybe unconsciously on purpose.

All this was put to rest as soon as I landed in Spain. Everything started falling into place. I smiled when I thought about how overly anxious I was just a few days earlier. My trip turned out to be one of the greatest summers and one that I will always cherish (lame & generic sentence, I know)!

I did some solo travelling before I arrived in Granada to study Spanish. Hostels played a major role in helping me to socialise. Some are really social while still providing a certain level of privacy, such as curtains, and same sex dorms.

I slowly made my way to Granada, passing through Albufeira and Seville on the way. For two weeks, we studied four hours a day from Monday to Friday. The beginners language course was harder than I expected. Our teachers started speaking in Spanish from Day 1 and pushed us to use as little English in class as possible. They were hard on us but I guess it worked. I picked up so much in such a short amount of time.

What I also love about Spain in summer is the amount of daylight that you get as the sun didn’t set until 9.30 pm. Every day, we would wake up and go to class in the morning, finish at 1 pm, and then go home to either study or have a siesta (nap). When the sun wasn’t as strong, we would start leaving the house again and meet up with our friends to go sightseeing or have some tapas. Here in Granada, they serve you free tapas when you buy alcohol. Needless to say we drank sangrias and beers everyday to get free food!

The city is even more famous for its medieval architectural masterpiece – The Alhambra. In busy months, this Moorish wonder is booked out for weeks in advance. The fortress turned palace is also just as beautiful from the outside as it is from the inside. Every other day, we would climb up the hill to a lookout, to view the iconic palace from afar and watch the sunset. Every time I saw the grand structure, I was just as impressed as the time before. Granada is honestly the most beautiful city I’ve been to so far in Europe. And I am so glad that I chose to spend the two weeks here.

Although everything worked out for me, it was not always smooth sailing. Fires broke out frequently as it was one of the hottest summers in Europe on record. I almost got pick-pocketed and indecently grabbed by an old man (both situations happening within 24 hours passing through Cordoba). Many other people had similar experiences. Some of my friends got pick-pocketed on busy subways, food courts, one even unfortunately got physically robbed and assaulted late at night, however this is a rare occurrence.

As my trip drew to an end, I looked back at my old self, just a few weeks earlier. Although everything didn’t always go as planned, I smiled again, as I knew that this trip was meant to be.

Berlin In-Country Contemporary study

Tobias Evans

This picture was taken on the last night of my program with a group of people that had been strangers 4 weeks earlier but now became some of my best friends. I went to Berlin not knowing anyone, so being able to leave with friends from all around the world is invaluable, and highlights what a truly amazing experience it was. The social aspect of the trip was incredible, I was never without people to explore the city with during the day and grab many quality German beers with at night, with the University there setting up many events and excursions for students to meet each other. The only downside of hanging out with a group of foreigners was that I left Berlin having learnt more Italian than German, as many of the people I became friends with spoke Italian.

The classes in Berlin were also incredible, with our professor being very against the use of powerpoint in teaching, each class was entirely discussion based which meant that everyone contributed and learnt from one another. We were also made to do multiple presentations, individually and in groups, which helped everyone come out of their shells.

Berlin has many amazing sites, and strangely enough I don’t have photos of everything I saw and went to even though I was sure I took photos. So my tip for people considering this program is to firstly, definitely sign up!!! But also to take lots of photos, as this is an experience you’ll want to remember for years to come.

Goooood morning, Vietnam!

July, 2019.


If it wasn’t for my 30-day visa, I would have stayed in Vietnam for much much longer. My month in this country was one of the most rewarding and enriching cultural experiences in my LIFE!

As a second-generation Vietnamese-Australian, I grew up in a household which embraced our traditions but never have I felt so connected to my cultural heritage until this month. Initially, I had my doubts about travelling alone to Vietnam for the first time without my family but in the end, it proved to be such an enlightening experience!


Old Quarter of Hanoi on film


This July, I was lucky enough to work with the Institute for Legislative Studies (ILS) in Hanoi. VILS is a legislative research agency that assists the Standing Committee of the National Assembly of Vietnam in its oversight and representative functions. My internship involved assisting in research reports focusing on particular policy issues that were on the agenda for the next session of the National Assembly.

This internship was organised through the Faculty of Law at UTS and was such a rewarding and invaluable opportunity to gain work experience in a global context. It provided me with diverse cross-cultural experiences which crystallised my aspirations to work in an international environment where I can contribute as a global citizen.

Throughout my internship, I was supported by senior staff who provided guidance in my work as well as travels. They encouraged me to balance my work so that I would have ample time to explore Hanoi and more broadly, Vietnam.


Ha Long Bay – Phong Nha – Hoi An


I am grateful that ILS has shown me with nothing but generosity and kindness in the workplace and outside. Honestly, to all the UTS students who happen to read this, you should definitely look into BUILD and the many programs that they offer!! You will not regret it!!

This truly has been an unforgettable learning and cultural experience.

Katherine Ho – Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of Arts in International Studies

Shanghai Adventures

This UTS BUILD short-term program at Shanghai University was definitely an unforgettable experience. The whole trip was a mixture of feelings as I was challenged to become more independent, but also experienced the amazing culture, people and food of Shanghai. Through this trip I was able to meet and create lasting friendships with different people from not only UTS but also from other countries.

My two week experience in Shanghai was filled with spontaneous trips, eating street food, shopping and lots and lots of walking. Our days usually started off with Chinese class in the morning where I was able to learn basic mandarin which came to be useful during my stay. We would then have our business class where we were taught about the Chinese economy; incubator tours were provided in the city vicinity to further our understanding of how business was done in China. This was an eye-opening experience as we were able to understand the differences in dynamics of doing business. After our tours was when we would be let off on our own to tour the city ourselves. This challenged our skills of language, navigation and planning of what to do each day, where although it was definitely tiring, it was not something I regretted.

Each day after our tours we visited various places which required a lot of walking. With the help of our buddies in Shanghai, we went to the infamous Bund, went up Shanghai tower where we saw the beautiful city and its water and infrastructure from up high. We also went to both East and West Nanjing Road to enjoy the shopping especially at H&M and Zara and also various markets to enjoy the cheap but delicious street food.

With the program we were able to also visit the Yu Gardens and also experience lunch inside a Shanghai family home where we also visited the neighbourhood. We got to see a tea ceremony performance and also try out Chinese calligraphy and watch Chinese opera.

Overall, Shanghai has been an amazing experience! Especially its culture and food, I definitely would love to come back and visit.

Suugloria Tun

Conflict Islands Conservation Initiative

Turtle Conservation at the Conflicts

The Conflict Islands are a group of 20+ uninhabited islands, located in the middle of the Coral Sea in Alotau, Papua New Guinea. The coral atoll is home to a rich, biodiverse ecosystem of marine life, frequented by two particular species of sea turtles; the green and hawksbill turtle.

During the summer, I was given the opportunity through UTS and BUILD Abroad, to join 8 other volunteers, and a team of extremely motivated and inspirational staff, to take part in the CICI Turtle Tagging Internship. This program revolves around providing data to help develop an understanding of the turtle populations residing and nesting at the Conflict Islands.

CICI have successfully developed an internship that aims to protect and promote the populations of turtles that visit the islands during nesting season. As part of the program, we would partake in night patrols of the main islands, searching for females nesting to relocate her eggs back to the main island Panasesa to be buried in safely guarded turtle hatcheries. From there, all the healthy and able hatchlings would be released into the ocean to start their life journey, whilst those that looked like they needed a little extra love and attention would become residents in the islands turtle nursery, until they looked strong enough for release.

Not only are the turtles of the Conflicts subject to some of today’s environmental pressures, including climate change and plastic pollution, they are also extremely vulnerable to poaching by PNG locals, for food and egg harvesting, as well as use of their stunning shells for tourism trade. CICI’s work with the local communities in trying to raise awareness of these issues and the variety of threats facing their turtle populations is commendable.

The tagging of the turtles also creates a baseline dataset of the juveniles, which can be used for future study into the return of nesting females. When the tags are applied, their numbers are recorded and entered into a global monitoring database, along with other information about the individual, including carapace size, any existing tags from other studies, or any obvious injuries. The tags also carry the PO Box of the main island, which is useful information for travelling turtles who have been tracked using satellite tags, swimming all the way to Australia and other neighbouring countries.

My time at the Conflict Islands was incredible, inspiring, and eye-opening. It has firmly and unquestionably confirmed my passion for environmental conservation, and in particular, the importance of marine preservation. I’m also so grateful for being able to visit such a beautiful place, and have the opportunity to dive, and be submerged in the vibrant sea life that makes up the Conflicts. The amazing efforts of the CICI staff and my fellow volunteers made my experience unforgettable.

Nicole Dilernia, Bachelor of Marine Biology, UTS

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

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 ‘PĂ©ngyƏu’ (‘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