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For many first-year students, university life takes a bit of getting used to. You are being pushed out of your comfort zone, which is exciting but also challenging.

First-year Bachelor of Property and Real Estate student Young Yin knew these feelings well. As an international student he was on a steep learning curve and had a lot to adjust to. Despite this, Young made the decision that extending himself even further beyond his comfort zone was exactly what he needed to do.

Hearing about a two-week European Business Management study tour offered by Deakin, Young decided to apply. When he found out his application was successful, Young was thrilled.

“It was a great opportunity. Even though I was a little nervous, I was really excited.”

Young in Budapest

Young said the appeal of the program was the opportunity to broaden his horizons and gain on-the-ground insights into key differences between European and Australian business practice.

Students undertake a unit with the study program’s partner university, Ecole Superieure de Commerce d'Angers (ESSCA), on the European business environment, across two of their campuses, spending one week in France and the other in Hungary.

They attend lectures and seminars delivered by ESSCA staff on a range of topics, including European economics, BREXIT, french culture, fiscal policy and fiscal politics, and intercultural communication. In Budapest, students visit IBM Shared Services Hungary, NCR Manufacturing plant and Knorr-Bremse Research and Development.

Recently returning from the tour, Young said he was glad he pushed himself out of his comfort zone and is already looking into other opportunities to extend himself as much as he can.

 “I am so glad I did do it. It was a great experience. I learnt a great deal about a wide range of issues and got a lot just from the time spent with other students on the tour,” Young said.

With all the students removed from their familiar, everyday lives, friendships were quick to form.

“Everyone was in the same boat, which made it easier getting to know each other. You are spending time together, in interesting places, learning together and sharing the experience together.”

“My English was not as good as the other students in the trip, but they were happy to help me out when I needed it. I have been able to learn so much from the others on the tour.”

Young made at least one long-term friend on the trip, and is sure the experience helped develop a range of ‘soft skills’ that will benefit his study and career prospects.  

With students engaging in a range of group-based and teamwork activities while on the tour, most return to Australia with significantly enhanced problem-solving, time management, presentation, and public speaking skills.

“I have come back feeling more settled in my Australian life. My English has improved and I’m more confident in getting to know other students, whatever their background. And I am not afraid to ask for help,” Young said.

Young’s advice to other international students at Deakin is to seize on opportunities that come knocking.

“A lot of international students want to go back home at any opportunity they get. But my advice to them is to go somewhere different.

“If you go with an open mind you will learn different things and gain so much. It will help make your university life in Australia more rewarding.”

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