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"It was one of the best things I’ve ever seen and I am very glad I got to see it."

Experiential learning opportunities while studying can provide personal and professional growth for students aiming to enhance their skill set.

Three Deakin Business School (DBS) students were fortunate enough to practice their skills beyond the classroom and participate in an overseas program at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE) in Chengdu as DBS ambassadors.

This is the first time DBS has sent students on this program, giving Joden Crothers, Dinendra Jayasinghe and Charles Opatha an opportunity to immerse themselves in a new culture and learn from other top students in the SWUFE global network.

Read their personal reflections below.

SWUFE student journals

Joden Crothers - day 1: After arriving into Chengdu airport with a two hour delay, the three of us only had roughly five hours sleep in 30 hours. Although we were exhausted, we were ready to take on a new adventure at the SWUFE summer camp. The morning of the first day was pretty relaxed. We met the SWUFE staff, had an introduction of what the program involved and what is expected of us and then the classic group photo! We also enjoyed a tour of the campus museum and then, a Chinese language class learning common Chinese words, phrases and tones.

That night there was an optional tour of the campus, so we could familiarise ourselves with all the important locations. Everyone was very friendly and happy to help with anything.

Dinendra Jayasinghe - day 2: We started the second day of our trip with a lecture on China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative - and from what I understood this will be China’s future. The ‘Belt and Road’ initiative will be key to growth and development by building rail tracks across Europe to every major city – cutting down shipping times from months to days using the railroads.

In the afternoon we participated in an icebreaker activity which included a linguistic component, learning to say ‘hello’ in all the nationalities present, which was close to 30!

Charles Opatha - day 3: Today was a gloomy and wet day in Chengdu. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan as Joden and I felt quite unwell due to the humidity. Since we came from winter, we struggled to acclimatise, but we slept for a bit and managed to recover.

In the afternoon, we attended a lecture on the capital market in China, conducted by Professor Yan Dong. It was great to learn about the financial system and China's stock market. In the afternoon, we took a bus with the group to Jinli Street, which was a great experience. Even though it was raining heavily, we were still able to eat from the different Chinese food stalls and buy souvenirs. Jinli Street had plenty of colour and it was a vibrant location. Small markets and the street-food was by far the highlight of the day.

Joden Crothers - day 4: Today was another early start to attend a morning lecture, where we learnt about Chinese political economics. After lunch we took a Chinese calligraphy class, where we were taught how to write some of the Chinese language and then had some fun painting a message onto a Chinese hand fan. From looking around the room, it seemed that most people had a lot of fun doing this. We all learnt something new and were able to take a piece of memorabilia home, which we will remember and cherish.

For dinner that night the staff took us to a restaurant where we ate the traditional Chinese hotpot. This was a very interesting experience for most of us – there were some interesting ingredients and it was quite spicy! I didn’t enjoy it! In saying that, it was good to experience this particular Chinese dish and the atmosphere that came with it.

Dinendra Jayasinghe - day 5: Today’s lecture was on Chinese cultural hotspots and things-to-do in Chengdu, as well as learning about Chinese philosopher Confucius. Following this we had a lecture on Chinese household surveys, which students from SWUFE connect with local households to gather information on spending and improving services provided by the government.

The rest of the afternoon was free time, so we decided to go to one of the largest shopping centres in the world by floor space – The New Century Global Centre. It had so many floors I couldn’t count, as well as plenty of shopping space and even an indoor waterpark with a mini beach-like wave pool! You could walk around there for days, I think it was one of the best things I’ve ever seen and I am very glad I got to see it.

Charles Opatha - day 6: Today we visited the panda base. We didn’t have much of an opportunity to spend more time at each panda base. The first panda we saw was eating bamboo and we were able to take some pictures. We kept moving through the base and we saw red pandas that were climbing all over the trees and into their mini houses. Red pandas are unique and it was great opportunity for us to take some pictures because they’re very rare. We kept walking and we saw more pandas resting and one panda provided us with some entertainment as it was trying to climb up to the porch base. We were all cheering the panda!

Joden Crothers - day 7: Today we didn’t have activities planned by the SWUFE team, therefore we wanted to do something that would be most beneficial for our time. The three of us joined a tour that was planned by one of the fellow students. We visited both the Dujiangyan irrigation system, which was built 520 BC, and the Qingchengshan mountain of temples.

The three of us all agreed this was by far one of the most beautiful things that we saw while in China. Some of the buildings that were built so many years ago are remarkable! The way they were designed, the detail and the overall look of them. With such minimal resources available and building them all by hand, it was incredible. Although this was a very long and tiring day, I would recommend anyone thinking about visiting the Chengdu region to check out the tours.

Dinendra Jayasinghe - day 8: Today we learnt about Chinese rule of law and how certain concepts are practiced. I found it very interesting and engaging, especially the lecturer who encouraged class participation.

In the afternoon we participated in a Chinese cooking class about an hour away from our campus. We began with instructions on the two dishes we were to prepare, followed by the practical cooking. I was glad they provided a separate lunch to the one we cooked – unfortunately my dishes didn’t work at all. But it was an amazing experience and I enjoyed cooking in a restaurant style kitchen rather than the traditional home setting which I am used to.

Charles Opatha - day 9: Today we visited the Sichuan Museum. It was great to explore the largest museum in Southwestern China. Each area of the museum had different exhibits including ceramics, stone sculptures, lots of paintings and a few pieces of modern artwork as well. After a quick look around the museum, we were back on the bus and headed to lunch in the city.

After the group lunch concluded at ‘Big Pizza’ we split into two groups. One group visited the ‘business visit to Credit Ease’ and the other group took a cultural visit to Tai Koo Li. My friend Stephanie Thoelen and I visited the ‘credit ease’ which specialises in wealth management. It was the first time they ran a presentation to a group of students, during which they outlined their business vision and how they started. We also saw what products they offer to their clients. It was a quite interesting to learn how their company operates.

After this we headed back to Chengdu city where we had an hour-long break, before the evening social activities. We went to the Sichuan Theatre to watch the face-changing and fire spitting performance. It was a spectacular show and everyone enjoyed it – it had a great story-line and it was great entertainment for the whole crowd.

Joden Crothers - day 10: As we were getting very close to the end of the trip, many of the students were starting to realise how tired and exhausted they were! It was probably good that we only had two lectures for the day and then had free time for the rest of the night.

After the lectures finished, many of the students decided to relax at the motel or catch up on sleep. Some went down to the Chengdu street market nearby to see what the Chinese locals were selling and to experience the Chinese markets.

Dinendra Jayasinghe - day 11: Our final day! We all had to complete group presentations, where we had to nominate three people to present on topics given to us. I worked on a lot of our research and slides, so I didn’t present, but Joden was asked to be part of the presenting team. Our topics all related to China, the lectures we had attended and cultural places we visited and were a great opportunity to hear everyone’s experiences. Our group did really well and got good marks.

Charles Opatha - day 11: In the evening we got dressed up and ready for our farewell dinner. We headed to a five-star hotel and each person from the program was called onto the stage to receive their own certificate for completing the program. It was a great night with performances, delicious food and a time to reflect on the trip by watching a video prepared by the SWUFE video team.

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Upon their return, Dinendra, Joden and Charles were excited to report that SWUFE was one of the best experiences during their time at University so far. They had the opportunity to learn more about themselves as well as about other cultures and start to build a global professional network. Gaining this experience in the real-world, outside of our domestic shores, opened up doors these three students may never have thought of. 

If you are now ready to give your degree an edge and want to boost your employabiltiy skills, why not look for a program to complement and extend your studies in Trimester 3? International business experiences are a key way to differentiate yourself in a very crowded graduate market.

Explore and apply for overseas study opportunities in T3

By participating in an overseas study opportunity, you will improve your employability, become a global citizen and a competitive graduate. Each one of our experiences has been hand-picked to support our students in their choice of degree and majors as evidence of extension units. Find out more: