Definitely if you have the time and if your
course will allow it – go on exchange. It was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever
done for my degree. I think it was just a general interest to
further my language studies so I thought may as well do it in China and Shanghai is one
of the biggest international cities, if not the biggest international city in China. So
I thought why not? The international office and the exchange
program they gave me a travel grant of about $5,000 which was really helpful and then as
a business student the Curtin Business School also gives me $3,000 on top of that. The university I went to was Shanghai University.
So when I arrived there it was about lat… early evening, I put my bags down, checked
in and then I wanted to buy, you know just some necessities and I didn’t know where to
go. So I went downstairs to the lobby and I asked
the man oh wheres the nearest shopping centre or supermarket. He pointed to a map and I
looked at the map and felt helpless and then I hear these two voices behind me speaking
in English and I turn around and go oh my god like you speak english can you please
help me. And yeah they took me around to the local shopping centre, treated me to dinner,
showed me where to buy like you know water, toilet paper, SIM cards and one of the guys
– Richard – he turned out to be one of my really really good friends during my semester. We had a pretty full on class schedule. Classes
were about 20 hours a week. When ever we could escape the classroom we’d travel and explore
Shanghai city. Shanghai is huge – the city itself has a population
of 23 million. My friend actually devised a little game called Train Roulette. So what
we’d do is hop on to the train and we don’t even know which way, which direction its going
and then once we decided to go we’d point at the map and go yep we’ll exit there and
we get off at the station and we’ll explore the area. This one time we got off at a random
stop – I can’t even remember what it was called – it was a little place but we walked past
a firing range – shooting range. So that was the first I’ve ever held a gun. But things like that happen in China! Yeah and my other good friend Kimberly – she
was from the UK. And she’s got a similar background to me. Both of our parents are Cantonese – from
Hong Kong sooooo… but we got a long really, really well. And at the end of the semester
she felt like a sister and which was weird. You think going on exchange when you’ll only
be there for a semester you wont really develop strong friendships you know you compare them
to your friends back home – who you’ve known for years – and you think oh you know I’ll
make some friends but they wont be that close. You live and eat with them every day! For
a semester so you kind of become really really good friends. China is a great like place for all different
types of food. I mean in Beijing I managed to try a whole heap of different type of food.
There’s a strip called Wang Fu Jing and its famous for their street food, in particular
creepy crawlies and bugs. So on that one night my friends and I ventured to try everything
and in a course of an hour we had Starfish, Baby Shark, Tarantula, Scorpions, Silk Worms,
Sea Horse. It was an interesting experience, definitely. Went to Tibet for three weeks so that was
an amazing trip. We went to the base camp of Mount Everest. Saw the Himalayas and we
managed to spend one sunset and one sunrise at Mount Everest. And it was really beautiful. I was lucky enough to get a job at a marketing
consultancy here in Perth and my employer said to me that definitely one of the reasons
I stood out from all the other applicants was this international experience. The fact
that I put myself out there. That, you know, I’ve got out of comfort zone and you know
gained this international experience. They look at, you know, exchanges and international
internships as a plus. To all the students out there considering the idea of an exchange
– I mean it is a daunting process at first. You think theres a lot of paperwork and its
not that easy to get in, but I think when you just start talking to the exchange office.
You know the coordinators are really lovely people and after that you know once you kind
of take that first step you’ll realise that its actually quite an easy process and you’ll
find yourself you know wanting it a lot and you know really working for it and its – at
the end of the day it is one of the best things that I’ve ever done