What our students say
A once in a lifetime experience
AIM Overseas International Law and Human Rights
Czech Republic 2017
I recently returned from a short course abroad through AIM Overseas and Southern Cross University in “International Law and Human Rights” studying in the Czech Republic. The three week course was with likeminded Aussies and immersed us in a different world. I always wanted to study abroad, but never had the opportunity because of my work commitments, so when I heard about the AIM Overseas short programs, I jumped at the chance! Three weeks abroad was perfect for me as I could schedule my annual leave for this time, and it wasn’t too long being away from my regular commitments. The other amazing thing, was that they offered really specific, focused courses for so many different fields and interests (language, human rights, psychology, law… anything!).
My actual course was based in the second biggest city in the Czech Republic following Prague, known as Brno, where I attended Masaryk University four days a week. Every weekend, the organisers planned a trip away at neighbouring cities including Prague, Budapest and Vienna. In each city, our schedule allowed for mandatory visits, plenty of optional activities, and heaps of time to do solo adventuring. We also had activities arranged locally in Brno, including city tours, brewery visits, an Amnesty International workshop, visits to the Constitutional and Administrative Courts, a trip to see the Opera (in Czech!), and even just simple dinners to bring the students together and relax.
Weekend one was a trip to Prague where we attended a workshop at Allen & Overy with various NGO’s representing a few different issues, including women’s rights, refugees, and human trafficking, to name a few. After the compulsory activities, one of our student organisers took us to a real ice hockey game, which was a crazy cool experience! Everyone over there gets so involved in the game, drinks a lot of cheap beer, and eats a lot of enormous pizza slices. (Yum!)
Weekend two was a trip to Budapest where we visited the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR Budapest) and sat in on a lecture from a representative of the European Roma Rights Centre. Among the optional activities was a trip to one of Budapest’s oldest baths the “Rudas” bath, which was purpose built in 1550 and is the longest standing bath in Budapest. I never thought I would enjoy something like this, but I participated anyway, and I can now say that I would do it over and over again! We sat in the snow filled -12 degree air, on the side of a mountain, inside a 50 something degree bath and looked over the Budapest night-skyline. Nothing can quite explain this experience, just amazing!
Our final weekend was spent in the beautiful, classical, Vienna. We spent out first day in Vienna visiting the United Nations and speaking with different representatives of the UN. Some people started returning home to Australia after the first day in Vienna. I stayed an extra two days, so I did my own local walking tours and visited galleries and general tourist sites and watched a national ballet. I particularly loved the classic influence in Vienna, so I visited the Mozart monument which includes a giant treble clef on the grass. It would be even more amazing in the spring time, because the treble clef comes up with beautiful flowers.
This trip has been a once in a lifetime experience, where I have covered so much ground and travelled to places that I probably would never have visited. I love winter, so the snowy -12 degree days and nights were magic to me. Having locals from the university so heavily involved in our activities was really beneficial for language barriers and also for arranging ‘special’ tours and knowing all the ‘must sees’ in every destination. I would recommend this program to anyone wanting to do something completely different and immerse themselves in a number of different cultures, while still studying something of interest to them.
Emily Byrne - Online student
Bachelor of Laws.
Study Abroad is an unforgettable experience!
Kansai Gaidai, Japan - Study Abroad.
Studying abroad has been one of the best decisions of my life. It has challenged my Western notions about life, exposed me to new creative ideas and paths, and has been very character building.
Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Osaka, Japan, is located very conveniently. Easy day trips to Osaka and Kyoto, Japan’s old capital and traditional cultural epicentre, make it easy to experience their temples and castles. Weekend trips to Hiroshima and Wakayama are also possible. There is quite a bit of Western influence, so if you are cautious about Japanese cuisine, you can definitely find something you would like to eat. Just be mindful that there is no eating-on-the-go in Japan! However, I highly recommend eating as much Japanese food as possible. Healthy, delicious and a total tastebud experience! I personally have fallen in love with Okonomiyaki and shashimi sushi!
If you are concerned about the language barrier, don’t let that stop you! The people of Osaka are very eager to help and most speak at least a little English. The best conversations I’ve had here are the ones that were conducted in broken half Japanese-English! The Japanese classes at the university are also top-notch and there is also a Japanese Language speaking partner program available if you choose. I personally didn’t sign-up, preferring instead to practice my Japanese with the friends I made in the cafeteria or student lounge. The Japanese students are just as eager to meet you as you are to meet them!
If your degree allows you, I suggest taking the more culturally bent classes offered at Kansai Gaidai. Such things as Shinto, History of the Japanese Warrior and Yokai are just a few of them, and their alternate cultural narratives really enriches your understanding of the different ways people construct their lives. For my Arts degree, it really fired up my imagination for creative expression.
You will experience being the ‘other.’ You will be stared at and observed, but don’t let this put you off. For me, being the fish-out-of-water was the best experience in the world. It gave me a deeper understanding of people we ‘other’ in our own country. It also made me realise how simple things like, finding food you know how to cook at the grocery store can actually be extremely difficult.
I didn’t participate in homestay because of my minimal Japanese, but don’t think that by living in a Seminar House you will miss out! One of the things I’ve loved most about my study abroad is the people I’ve gotten to live with. From all over the world, learning about each other’s homes and cultures, was really amazing. I can’t count how many times I argued with the Americans over jam/jelly labels!
All in all, study abroad, no matter where you go, will be an unforgettable experience!
VIETNAM: Friendship founded hand in hand
Hanoi, Vietnam 2016 - Short term program.
My name is Allana Pengilley and I am currently a 4th year Occupational Therapy Student at SCU, Gold Coast. At the conclusion of 2016 I ventured on my first overseas trip with a group of my fellow 3rd Year OT peers and Speech Pathology students to Hanoi, Vietnam, as part of the New Colombo plan scholarship. We went for a three-week placement to work with 120 children with varying disabilities due to the Agent Orange Chemical release during the war and around 50 Veterans of the Vietnam War living at ‘The Friendship Village.’
It’s safe to say I grew in so many ways from my experiences in Vietnam and I definitely came home with a whole new perspective on life and the way I now view my future profession. I was able to immerse myself in their culture, way of life, explore the wonders of Vietnam and had opportunities every day to apply concepts learnt during my degree in real life, everyday situations.
I had one particular interaction with a young woman named Nu which has significantly influenced my life and changed it so positively for the better. Nu has Autism and is non-verbal, but this definitely does not define her. Nu taught me in three short weeks that growth is possible in any situation, that you don’t need language to communicate, that any challenge you face can be overcome with perseverance and hard work and that love will guide you in whatever direction you are meant to be going. Trust your journey.
As a part of our placement we each had a project based on promoting health and wellbeing for the people living at The Friendship Village. The group I am part of has had the opportunity to design and is in the process of initiating building plans to create an outdoor rehab/playground space that meets the demanding sensory and physical needs of each child living at the village.
If you have the opportunity to go on a placement for your degree or study abroad, TAKE IT, it’s the best decision I made and I’m very grateful for the chance I had to be a part of this trip. It will be an experience I will carry with me for the rest of my career and life.
Bachelor of Occupational Therapy