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

International Legal Internship: Hui Ye in Shanghai

July 2019 – one of the most riveting months of my entire life so far… was spent doing a legal internship in Shanghai! I certainly didn’t expect to feel this way when I first started my program.

On the night of Thursday 27 June 2019, I arrived in Shanghai after a 10.5 hour flight from Sydney. As I lugged my huge suitcase into my single-bed hostel room, it really dawned on me that I would be spending an entire month in a foreign city with no one by my side. One reason that I chose a hostel to stay in was so that I could meet other travelers like me – so I could feel a sense of familiarity in what was a month of anything but familiar.

Although I had a decent grasp of Mandarin thanks to my parents, I saw it more a curse rather than a blessing. I wasn’t able to express complex thoughts or string together long sentences. Although I was able to ask for directions or order food at restaurants without issue, ‘Add me on WeChat’ and ‘I want to open a bank account with a debit card’ were slightly outside my vocabulary bank. I also felt distinctly like a ‘foreigner’ – I couldn’t even order KFC at one particular restaurant because I didn’t have WeChat Pay, which unfortunately required a Chinese bank account. Paying for things in cash just wasn’t a thing in Shanghai!

As I started with the internship the following week, I slowly but surely began to find my feet. By that point I had secured a Chinese bank account and was living and paying like a local! At Hui Ye Law Firm, I was introduced to the craze that is ordering milk tea (or bubble tea) using delivery services straight to the office. Can you imagine using UberEats or Deliveroo to send a coffee up to your office! I discovered that napping at work was entirely appropriate given Chinese business culture and the expectation to work long hours.

Progressing with the internship, I began to appreciate Chinese cultural values such as ‘guanxi‘ (the relationship) and ‘mianzi‘ (the concept of ‘face’). This meant not approaching shy colleagues for a conversation until they were ready on their own terms to have a meet-and-greet. It similarly meant not bothering my supervisors for more work until they were ready to provide it. Overcoming these initial barriers in understanding a foreign culture was one of the major successes of this internship.

Substantively, I was tasked with drafting various research papers, presenting on ‘Investing in Australian Real Property‘ to my Chinese colleagues and visiting both the Shanghai People’s Basic Court and the Shanghai Commercial Mediation Centre. In the final week, there was a brief change of scenery with a visit to the Nanjing office! None of it felt like I was doing things for the sake of an internship – it truly felt like each task was provided so that I would better understand Chinese culture, Chinese commercial law and Chinese working habits.

Having stayed in a hostel, I looked forward to chilling out in the rooftop bar every evening after finishing work. Unwinding after a long day with a beer and some international friends – I couldn’t have asked for more! In my spare time, I visited the nearby city Suzhou (the ‘Venice of the East’), did tourist-y things around Shanghai and even sat down for a dumpling class! An honourable mention definitely goes to the unforgettable KTV (karaoke) nights!

Striking a balance between work and play was perhaps one of the most enriching aspects of the internship. In some ways, I felt like I was truly an adult managing my own time, relationships, work and travels. Navigating the challenges, highs and lows of Shanghai, I feel like I have taken positive steps to becoming a Global Leader. I have found mentors from Hui Ye and friends across the world that I no doubt will keep for life.

Jason Wang

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

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

Skating the Surface in China

Something I hold dear to my heart is skating on the lake of the Summer Palace in Beijing. I’ll never forget it. I had been to the Summer Palace twice, heard all about the Empress Dowager Cixi and walked under the gorgeous corridor. It was one of my favorite places to have visited and so I was excited to go back. When we arrived I didn’t expect to see that the lake had frozen over and that people were ice skating using sleds and ice bikes. Immediately my friends and I hopped over, paid around $10AUD and jumped on the ice for the next few hours, seeing the beauty of the Summer Palace from a completely different perspective. Just when I was looking forward to experiencing the beautiful Summer Palace again I was surprised to find more depth to it.

In my two weeks in Beijing as part of the intensive language and culture short course at the Beijing Institute of Technology I was constantly reminded of the utter complexity and depth of culture and history that exists in China.

We were there during the lead up to the Lunar New Year, and were lucky enough to gain an insight into how language is often tied to culture and history whilst being transformed again for a contemporary era. During our lesson on the Chinese tradition of paper cutting we learned about why fish are often used as symbols of good fortune, as they sound similar to the character for more. Similarly, we found out that Pepper Pig was the modern poster child for the year of the pig, which was often reaffirmed through her constant presence around Beijing.

When studying calligraphy, we looked at how characters had been simplified from their more complex and more pictorial beginnings. I found it particularly interesting to look at how the freestyle way of writing a character changed it and highlighted calligraphy as more of an art form and the experience as meditative.

Language is intertwined with culture, and although two short weeks wasn’t enough time to take it all in, I was reminded of how the traditions of eras past in combination with a new modern age make Beijing, let alone the rest of China, a place with incredible diversity.

 

Annabelle Parmegiani