Rhona Hamilton is currently preparing to go on exchange to the University of Tokyo, Japan, in Semester 1 2019. Rhona is currently studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in Physics, and has also completed a Diploma of Languages in Japanese. As a recipient of a 2019 New Colombo Plan Scholarship, Rhona has been funded for her exchange and a two-month internship with a photonics laboratory at the University of Tokyo, as well as an additional internship at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

We interviewed Rhona before her departure to Tokyo in mid-March. She had just returned from an internship in New South Wales, where she was working with CSIRO in their Space Science and Astrophysics group.

“The project was mapping neutral hydrogen distribution in nearby galaxies. It was really cool. There was a trip to the Australian Telescope Compact Array, which is in a town called Narrabri. I spent a week there doing observations. Most of the internship was data analysis, so I had to give a presentation and report at the end about my research. It was a really interesting experience.”

Rhona previously completed a study tour with the Mistui Educational Foundation in Japan.


Rhona with one of the telescopes in Narrabri

“They select eight universities each time, and then one student from each university for the study tour, and it’s all expenses paid. It was jam-packed – we went around Tokyo, then to Kyoto and Hiroshima. We were able to do a homestay as well as lots of cultural visits. We also did business trips. Because Mitsui is a 総合商社 (sōgō shōsha), a generalised trading company, they have a lot of investments and involvement in supply chains, shipping, and distribution. They own part of 7 Eleven in Japan, own parts of airports, are involved with Nippon Steel… we heard a lot of presentations from these companies. It was really interesting, because it’s a lot of stuff you’re just not going to see as a tourist. It was a very internal view of Japanese business.”

When asked about her decision to study overseas for a second time, and to revisit Japan, Rhona reflected on her experience in learning the Japanese language and culture.

“Some people on the study tour spoke quite a bit of Japanese, but some spoke none at all. During the homestay component, I was staying with a family who had two little boys, about 7 and 4, and they didn’t speak any English, so we spoke Japanese the whole time. That was a terrific experience – they were so lovely.”

“I had been thinking about exchange for a long time. I did the Mitsui tour thinking it would be my ‘Japan university experience’, and then I would do something after my undergraduate degree. But the tour was so good, and it made me very aware of where my Japanese was lacking. I got good grades for my Japanese classes but I couldn’t understand the language in a cultural context, like casually speaking. It made me want to go back, and that email about NCP really solidified it. I really want to become fluent in Japanese.”


Rhona wearing kimono during the Mitsui study tour

“I’m really looking forward to meeting my host family from the study tour again. We also had buddies who were graduate employees at Mitsui who showed us around Tokyo – I really want to see them again too. It will be different this time though, long-term, living and paying for everything by myself. I’d like to take trips out of the city on weekends or day trips on my days off. I want to meet more people too, and get more involved in University clubs.”

Here at the University of Adelaide, Rhona is a member of the Fencing Club. She hopes to continue this while on exchange by joining the University of Tokyo’s fencing club. She also told us the subjects she will be learning while in Tokyo:

“Half of it will be physics courses, like maths and information science, and some physical chemistry courses. Some courses will be Japanese language, culture, and history. I’ll take all of my courses in English, but will keep learning Japanese in those classes too.”


“I really want to work as a researcher in physics. I’ll also be learning a lot of soft skills, like living in a new country, working in a new academic culture, and learning new subjects. I’m looking forward to mixing Japanese literature and history with physics and science. The University of Tokyo is a research university too, like Adelaide, and each Faculty has a large graduate department. It will be great for networking with people in my field.”

When we asked Rhona where she would like to be in the next ten years, she told us she hopes to be in a postdoctoral position, perhaps in Japan. She would like to do research that she is passionate about and which contributes to the greater good. She hopes to build on the relationships she makes on her exchange and also explore teaching.

“I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about travelling to Japan. It’s a terrific place to visit. I think that specifically for science students, Japan has a lot of investments in infrastructure for scientific research. It’s a huge part of their academic culture. Japanese universities are also trying to be more international, and I think there’s going to be a lot of support for international students. So you can start in your undergraduate degree, then in your future scientific career you will have all of these connections, like with people who have really neat particle accelerators or gravitational wave observatories – studying overseas really pays itself forward in the long term.”


Rhona leaves for her exchange in March. You can follow her experience on our Instagram at @uaoverseas.


If you’re interested in doing an exchange in Japan like Rhona, you can view our Japanese partners here

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Jan Noya is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts with a Bachelor of Economics, majoring in International Studies and Politics. At the end of 2018, Jan completed a professional overseas internship in Fiji through Project Everest. He is also the President of the Adelaide University Filipino Club.


Jan wanted to gain international experience, as a lot of his friends and professional mentors had told him that his degree was highly competitive. While looking for internships, Jan came across the provider Project Everest, which offered him the opportunity to gain international experience while also creating social impact.

Prior to his Project Everest internship, Jan had experience travelling overseas. “Usually when I travel, I only get to go to the tourist spots that everyone has mentioned before. So, I never really get to see the real life in the country. But this experience showed me a different side to Fiji. We lived in a shared house in a rural area, and every time we met locals, we got to observe the local life and culture more.”

When we asked Jan about the highlights of his time with Project Everest, he told us: “I went for a meeting with a stakeholder and I was pressured to answer tough questions. However, with the training I was given by Project Everest, I managed to answer them confidently. I also visited a village and was welcomed with great hospitality. I heard farmers’ stories that were so touching.”


“I learnt so much about myself. Last September, I started the Adelaide University Filipino Club. The pressure made me question myself as to whether I was confident or competent enough for the tough position of being club president. During my time overseas though, I learned so much about my leadership skills, as well as how I interacted with people. At some point, I realised my dedication and hard work is not only my greatest strength, but greatest weakness as well, and I think many of my team members also felt that burden. This lead to me reassessing how I needed to be mindful of the people around me. Now, I’m taking everything that I learnt and experienced in Fiji and am applying it back here in Adelaide.”


The opportunities that arose from taking part in the Project Everest internship came from within the program itself: “They offer further training through Team Leader training, Business Development training, and more. I’ve recently just completed my training for Sales and Marketing, and now I will be presenting in lectures and events.”

“I was never the confident and determined person that I am now. But, the experience and situations I had to face while overseas in a developing country, where essential utilities may not be accessible, helped me to develop valuable skills. During my time away from ‘luxuries’, I found that there will always be miscommunications and hard situations, but you just have to think on your feet and come up with a solution. While in a country I’m not familiar with, I also started to think creatively, be more resourceful, and never give up.”

Jan still keeps in contact with the many friends he made on the Project Everest program. Those who also live in Adelaide all met up recently to catch up over Korean BBQ.

He hopes to work for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in the future, specialising in East Asian trade and international security. “I don’t specifically have a plan, but I’ve been searching for opportunities to broaden my experience. I’ve written articles for the Organisation for World Peace to gain the opportunity to use my university knowledge and theories. I’ve also completed an internship with Workforce Blueprint, researching and studying international workforces and education systems, and of course I’ve completed the Project Everest internship. I want to continue getting international experience by learning more practical work, and I hope to do an internship with an organisation that focuses on East Asian studies.

In the next six months, Jan hopes to lead and grow the Filipino Club effectively through creating a large range of social events, and apply for exchange to South Korea to further broaden his international experience.

Interested in joining the Adelaide University Filipino Club? You can follow them on Instagram at @aufc_filipinoclub, Facebook at /uofa.aufc, or head to their website

If you would also like to apply for a Project Everest venture, please go to our Short Programs web page. If you would like to apply for exchange, please go to our Exchange web page

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Tom Chambers is currently undertaking a PhD in atmospheric physics/optics. From October to December in 2018, as part of his PhD research, Tom travelled to Davis Station, Antarctica to deploy atmospheric measurement instruments to determine the role of clouds and precipitation in the Earth’s climate system. Tom wrote the following blog post to tell us more about his time on the world’s southernmost continent. 



I’ve always been curious about how natural systems work and I find the many mysteries and unsolved problems within this area to be deeply fascinating. The Earth’s atmosphere hosts a wide range of complex and beautiful phenomena which can help us to understand the fundamental processes that lead to their formation. Understanding of these processes is crucial to overcoming important issues such as climate change and the forecasting of extreme weather events.


A selection of some of the instruments installed at Davis Station as part of our observation campaign.

Clouds are currently a large source of uncertainty in climate models, especially over the Southern Ocean and Antarctic regions. Clouds here contain mixtures of ice and super-cooled water that are not currently accurately represented. My research investigates microscopic processes that occur in clouds, such as the role of turbulence in the formation of ice crystals and water droplets. To do this, my research team and I have developed a laser based instrument that can make 3D holograms of these particles. The holograms allow us to measure the particles’ shape, size, and clustering. By comparing our observations to other atmospheric instruments, we can begin to build an understanding of the full life cycle of clouds and better represent them within climate models.

To get to Antarctica, we spent two weeks on the ice-breaker Aurora Australis. We deployed our instruments on the ships railing to measure precipitation. Our instruments were located alongside others from a range of research organizations. We were also lucky enough to observe many beautiful distractions along the way, ranging from leopard seals to a stunning Aurora Australis lighting the skies above.



Nesting Adelie penguins on Gardner Island, a short walk over the frozen sea ice from Davis Station.

On reaching Davis Station, much of our time was spent installing an extensive range of instruments around the Station Limits. These instruments included a high powered laser that can measure directly inside of clouds developed by the Australian Antarctic Division, along with a flux tower for measuring snow drift properties, and a scanning precipitation radar provided by our Swiss collaborators from EPFL. Davis Station is a particularly dry part of the world, and so we will leave our instruments there for the coming year to build up an understanding of this crucial link within the Earth’s atmospheric system. Whilst we were on the mainland we had the chance to see some really beautiful landscapes and animals, such as the nesting Adelie Penguins shown on the right.



A shimmering Aurora Australis lights the skies above us aboard the Aurora Australis icebreaker.

Now that we have returned to a noticeably warmer climate, our next step will be to deploy our instruments on a weather balloon to measure directly inside the clouds. This could be performed routinely to provide a significant increase in available data, as the current approach is to run expensive dedicated aircraft campaigns. We will also be analysing the data throughout the year from our Antarctic instruments, along with observations from another campaign last year in the Snowy Mountains.

The observations from Antarctica have been truly unique, and the discoveries that this can lead to are quite exciting. I encountered a range of breathtaking sights, and the amazing people that I got to know made the experience truly incredible. I would strongly encourage other students to take up overseas research opportunities for themselves in the future.

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Maria Positano is currently preparing to go on exchange to Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, in Semester 1 2019. Maria is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Media. As the recipient of a 2019 New Colombo Plan Scholarship and a PricewaterhouseCoopers 2019 fellow, Maria has been funded for her exchange and an […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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 […]

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