10 reasons why you should consider study in Asia
- Dynamic and modern world cities
Living in Shanghai, a city of over 24 million people, was an amazing experience. I loved being in a city where things are constantly happening – from the great nightlife to the ever-growing startup community to never-ending new restaurants and events, Shanghai is never boring. The pace of economic growth and social development in the region means that Asian cities are the place to be – not only Shanghai but also places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and more.
- Fascinating local culture
Studying Chinese and making friends with locals really enhanced my exchange. There is so much to learn and experience thanks to Asia’s long and interesting history and rich contemporary cultures.
- The food!
I am salivating just thinking about the amazing xiaolong bao and shengjian bao (Shanghai’s famous soup dumplings) and all the other food from Shanghai and my travels: think late night street food noodles, gourmet Peking Duck in Beijing, authentic Osaka okonomiyaki in Japan and even perfect almond croissants in the tree lined boulevards of Shanghai’s old French Concession.
- Incredible travel opportunities
From Shanghai, I travelled throughout much of China (a huge country!) with the ease of bullet trains and cheap but comfortable hostels. I also visited Hong Kong and Japan, just short flights away, and had friends who loved seeing Thailand, Seoul and Taiwan. Making a home base in Asia means that these incredible and varied destinations are super accessible.
- Career development
We all keep hearing about the broad relevance of Asia to Australia’s economic and social future – and it’s true, so why not get involved now? Across all kinds of industries, it’s possible to attend conferences and other events or do work experience in successful and interesting organisations in Asian cities. Asia is a fantastic place to build networks relevant to your career, both with likeminded peers and industry leaders. I did some volunteering, was involved with the Australia-China Youth Association and interned with leading law firm King & Wood Mallesons while in Shanghai – these opportunities gave me insight and experience that was personally valuable and relevant to career pathways both at home and abroad.
- It’s something different
Shanghai is a city that is so different to what I am used to at home in Australia – and I love that. New sights, sounds and smells, a different pace of life and of course, new challenges that come from living in Asia make for a life experience that will set you apart personally and professionally. There’s no better time than university to go off the beaten path and see what you can discover about the world, and yourself!
- Cost of living
Generally speaking, Asia is more affordable than Europe or the United States – depending on which city you choose and the lifestyle you lead. While Shanghai was by no means a ‘cheap’ city by Asian standards, many costs of living are comparably very affordable (such as food, transport and regional travel) – which means more money left over for those fancy rooftop bar cocktails should you choose to indulge!
- You don’t need to speak the local language!
Don’t let the idea of a foreign language put you off studying in Asia. I study Chinese and loved learning more while living in China – but knowing the local language is definitely not a pre-requisite. Shanghai is an incredible international city, as are many cities around China and Asia. Exchange partner universities also offer a variety of courses in English.
- Scholarships and funding
Due to the aforementioned importance of Asia to Australia, as well as many Asian host locations’ enthusiasm to build international networks, students who choose to pursue study in Asia have the opportunity to apply for a variety of scholarships and grants from Australia and abroad. These avenues include the Westpac Asian Exchange scholarship, the Confucius Institute, the Australian Government’s Asiabound grants and New Colombo Plan and Chinese Government scholarships. These funding opportunities not only make study abroad more accessible for enthusiastic students but are also invaluable in helping to establish professional and academic networks. I have also found that application processes encourage me to consider how to really make the most of exchange, through seeking further professional, academic and personal experiences that I may have otherwise missed.
- You won’t miss out on the full exchange experience
While Europe and America are amazing destinations to live the study-abroad lifestyle, don’t think for a minute that you will miss out by choosing Asia. I lived on campus in downtown Shanghai and was involved with the student community with both fellow international students and locals – university activities, super fun parties, field trips and more. Looking back on my exchange, the wonderful friends I made in Shanghai were truly what made my exchange amazing. I have so many happy memories fun times with great people during my semester abroad.