Sophie Eather is currently preparing to go on exchange to Fudan University, Shanghai, China, in Semester 1 2019. Sophie is currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in International Business, and a Diploma of Languages majoring in Mandarin Chinese. As the recipient of a 2019 New Colombo Plan Scholarship, Sophie has been funded for her exchange and an additional internship in China.

We sat down with Sophie after she returned from a Canberra workshop ahead of the 2019 New Colombo Plan Scholarship recipients being announced.

Having already undertaken a short program to China (Month-long in Shandong study tour, Summer School 2017), Sophie is confident in her ability to immerse herself into the Chinese language while on exchange, and will be studying full-time advanced level Chinese language courses while at Fudan University.


“I’ve been learning Mandarin for three years, and I feel like I’ve got the vocabulary, it’s just actively having the opportunity to speak out loud. That’s why I’m going to China – to be able to say that I’m fluent.”

Sophie will be studying at Fudan University in Shanghai, and is excited to see more of the city while on exchange:

“I went on a study tour through the Confucius Institute to Shandong University in Jinan, and only spent two nights in Shanghai, so I’ve really only had a brief glimpse of the city. The study tour was so intensive that it really helped advance my Chinese a lot.”


“Exchange is really a no brainer! My career goal is business, wine, and Chinese language. I grew up in the Barossa Valley and I work at Penfolds. My goal is to sell Australian wine and promote it in China, so exchange was always on the cards, with or without the scholarship. I always wanted to go on exchange to improve my Chinese and get it to that level to be able to sell wine in China.”

“It’s reflected in the news around us that China is the biggest trade partner of Australia. There’s so much excitement and so much going on with Australia-China relations. I personally think there’s no reason not to study in China for an exchange.”


“I worked at a restaurant in my gap year called Vintners, owned by Yalumba. There were a lot of Chinese tourists that would come through and try wine. I think that the early immersion (I hadn’t studied Chinese at that point), and noticing the sheer influx of Chinese tourists in South Australia and the Barossa was a starting point. It just made sense to me to combine my passion for wine with Commerce. And I had studied Japanese but really wanted to diversify and take up Chinese as it’s so relevant to today’s economy. And I continued because I was good at it! I’m not very good at Science and Mathematics, but I’m good at Languages. Sticking to what I’m good at and my passion planted the seed and it just grew from there.”


Elaborating more on her work experience at Penfolds, Sophie continues:

“I had applied again and again and after a few months of waiting it came out of nowhere. They called me and said, ‘Sophie, we heard you speak a bit of Chinese, we’d love you to come on board’, so clearly I had a few distinguishing factors – I’m from the Barossa, I like wine, and I speak Chinese.”

“At Penfolds, I work in Magill Estate kitchen, which is located next to the cellar door. We host VIP functions and events which is my favourite part; we’ve hosted Peter Gago (head winemaker at Penfolds), Scott Morrison, the Premier, and Rolex. I love showcasing and promoting the Penfolds brand, and I also get the opportunity to use my Chinese there because there are so many Chinese tourists interested in wine.”

When applying for exchange, students pick three preferences and are then allocated one of those preferences based on a variety of factors such as GPA, written application, and course suitability. Sophie was allocated her first preference – Fudan University in Shanghai.


“The Chinese language courses there are so flexible. Other universities offered English courses in business and just had Chinese as a side course, whereas I really wanted that immersion at an advanced level. Fudan was the perfect choice for me.”

When describing the moment she found out she’d been selected for the NCP Scholarship, Sophie told us “the interview went really well. It was late October and I was in the middle of class. I refreshed my laptop and saw the NCP email saying that I got the scholarship and I just ran out of the classroom. I was straight on the phone to my sisters and my parents. It caught me completely off guard.”


Reflecting on how the New Colombo Plan Scholarship will benefit her future career, Sophie mentions her internship in Shanghai, which she’s been able to secure thanks to the scholarship.

“I’ve previously done an internship at Wine Australia, and I recently contacted them again. They have an office in Shanghai. The partnerships that the companies have with the New Colombo Plan is great. It was amazing being in Canberra and meeting the other scholars. Just the networking opportunities alone are amazing. My LinkedIn has gone crazy! The opportunity and the prestige associated with the scholarship are worth so much more than the money. The New Colombo Plan have been very supportive of everything I want to do.”

In ten years, Sophie hopes to be “working in China, at Treasury Wine Estates or Wine Australia, promoting and selling Australian wine in China. I really enjoy event management, and I think my experience at Penfolds has reinforced a lot of event management. I can imagine myself organising a little wine tasting experience for Chinese visitors and selling and promoting wine that way.”


Sophie leaves for her exchange in February, and you can follow her experience on our Instagram at @uaoverseas, or her own Instagram, @sophieeather, as well as on our Facebook page.


Words and images by Chelsea Allen and Gabriello White

Posted in Student Blogs
Comments Off on 2019 New Colombo Plan Scholars – Sophie Eather

Office closure

Study Overseas will be closed for business from 5pm Friday 21 December 2018 and will reopen in the New Year at 9am on Wednesday 2 January 2019. Finance processing will also experience some delays over this period.

OS-HELP and Travel Grant processing

Eligible OS-HELP or Global Learning Travel Grant applications received before close of business Thursday 6 December will receive payment before the end of the year..

We will continue to process applications while our office is open (up to Friday 21 December), but please note that payments will not recommence until mid-January 2019.

For OS-HELP, students whose programs commence in 2019 may wish to use the 2019 OS-HELP amounts but these will not be paid before 2019. For programs commencing in 2019, the maximum loan amounts are $6,791 (for study not in Asia), $8,149 (for study in Asia), and $1,085 for the Asian Language supplement.

For more information about OS-HELP, including a video designed to help you successfully complete an OS-HELP application, please refer to the Study Overseas Funding web page.


Posted in Student Blogs
Comments Off on 2018 end of year Study Overseas close-down period

Thien was one of the finalists in the video category for our Best Of competition! He participated in a Project Everest program focussed on water assessment to Vietnam. Enjoy!

Posted in Asia, Faculty of Engineering, Computer & Mathematical Sciences, Short Programs, Student Blogs, Student Videos, Vietnam | Tagged , , , ,
Comments Off on Best Of 2018 – Thien Nguyen – Project Everest, Vietnam

Ben was one of the finalists in the video category for our Best Of competition! His dreamy footage is from the Deep Water, Deep Jungle study tour that took students from the School of Biological Sciences to Singapore and Cambodia. We love these Southeast Asian vibes!

Posted in Faculty of Sciences, Singapore, Student Videos, Study Tours | Tagged , , , , ,
Comments Off on Best of 2018 – Ben D’Antonio – Deep Water, Deep Jungle – Singapore, Cambodia

Alice’s submission won the best video prize for our Best Of competition! Well done Alice. Check out her adventures at Nagoya University in Japan.

Posted in Asia, Exchange, Japan, Student Blogs, Student Videos | Tagged , , , ,
Comments Off on Best Of 2018 – Alice Yang – Nagoya University, Japan

Kathryn is currently on exchange at the University of Glasgow for a Full Year (2018-2019). She is studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English and minoring in Art History. Once your exchange finally comes around, it can feel like you’ve been planning and waiting for years and in the excitement and stress of last […]

Posted in Europe, Exchange, Faculty of Arts, Student Blogs, United Kingdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Comments Off on 6 Tips for Settling In – by Kathryn Simons

Study Overseas is offering the opportunity for two storytelling students to win $250 each for the best written piece and best video of 2018. Students must: Have participated in a Study Overseas experience in 2018 (including those that departed in 2017) which has been registered in GLAS Be a current student of the University of […]

Posted in Student Blogs
Comments Off on Best Of 2018 Competition

Courtney Smith is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science. In Winter School of 2018, Courtney travelled to Aarhus, Denmark, to take part in their summer program.   At the beginning of 2018, I had no idea that I would be traveling to Europe for the first time. I can clearly remember browsing the internet […]

Posted in Denmark, Europe, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Short Programs, Student Blogs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Comments Off on The World’s Smallest Big City: Aarhus – by Courtney Smith

Returned student Sebastian Levesque (aka Gauzier) sat down with us to chat all about his exchange to the National University of Singapore and his travels around his exchange. 

Posted in Asia, Exchange, Singapore, Student Blogs, Student Videos, Study Overseas Alumni | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Comments Off on Student Experience – Sebastian Levesque – The National University of Singapore

Hannah Sandrini is currently studying a double degree in Law and International Studies with a Diploma in French. She has completed three exchange programs with us – first at the University of Strasbourg, France, in 2014, then at the University of Montreal, Canada, in 2016, and her latest was at Mahidol University, Thailand, in 2017. […]

Posted in Asia, Canada, Europe, Exchange, Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Professions, France, Law, North America, Student Blogs, Study Overseas Alumni, Thailand | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Comments Off on Study Overseas Alumni #10 – Hannah Sandrini