Story by Computer Science student Elisha Mawson, as part of our student life series.

During winter break in Australia, I, and three other UOW students took part in the 2019 summer school program at Xidian University in Xi’an, China.

The program provided us with insight into the information and communications field. Prestigious and world-renowned lectures were delivered on not only ICT related topics, but also on Chinese culture and history.

Students from over 10 countries attended the summer school, exposing us all to a variety of cultures.

Xi’an

Upon our early arrival on the 27th of June, we were met by a volunteer from Xidian University. We were then driven each to our hotels we had booked and settled in first our first night. The next day, I travelled into the city of Xi’an and was fascinated by the proximity of shopping malls, restaurants and historical sites. For lunch, I had my first taste of traditional and local Xi’an food. My favourite dish was 包子 (steamed stuffed pork bun). On the second day, I visited a popular hot pot restaurant where I tried samples of many local dishes and popular traditional Chinese cuisine. One thing that surprised me on the second day was the reliable and widely available public transport methods to get around the city of Xi’an. Also the second day I visited the Xi’an bell tower and used a taxi to get there which I requested via the WeChat application which came within 1 minute. The bell tower was extremely unique in it’s architecture and I spent over three hours exploring the area including some street markets which sold unique food and souvenirs.

After finishing at the Xi’an bell tower, I travelled back to my hotel via the subway/metro service that ran throughout the city. On the day of the summer school beginning, we were greeted by students and teachers from Xidian University and were given an ID card with a generous amount of money to purchase lunch and refreshments whilst on campus. We were then partnered with our groups and I introduced myself to my partner and other group members.

Xidian Summer School

The first day of the course, the other students from around the world and myself travelled to Xidian via bus. The journey took approximately one hour. Upon arrival, I met with my group members again and we went on a tour through the impressive university museum and the university campus.

The first event that took place during the summer school program which was memorable was the field trip to the Shaanxi History Museum. Here I was able to see a wide range of Xi’an artefacts and learn about the rich and engaging history of Xi’an. Another interesting event that took place on this day was the technology lecture presented by Professor Baoyan Duan. This lecture was insightful into the field of deployable antenna technology and sparked my curiosity within the field. The next lecture tied into the field trip to Shaanxi Museum and provided background knowledge into the history of the silk road and other elements of Xi’an’s vast history.

On the fourth day, I had the opportunity to visit the Small Goose Pagoda with my group. I really enjoyed visiting here as I was fascinated by the history and architecture of the structures within the site.

The next day was perhaps the most interesting day for me personally. On this day we were tasked with creating a wireless radio from scratch (bare PCD board to functional radio). I had previously been interested in the field and doing this task taught me electrical engineering techniques such as how to solder components to a PCB board, how to read and construct PCB board blueprints and finally, how to create a functional ICT device that could receive radio signals and transmit them for listening.

Another day I found to be very significant within the duration of the summer school was the field trip to visit the famous Terracotta Warriors. The journey was around 1 hour from the Xi’an city centre. These field trips were the major highlight of my trip as I am very interested in learning about Chinese language, culture and tradition. Upon arrival at the site, we were taken on a tour through various tents which each featured different terracotta figures.

On the 7th day, we visited the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an city. This was an extremely unique and unforgettable experience. Located within the street was food, souvenirs, performers and more. However, the traditional way of living also caught my attention as many homes surrounded the densely populated street and gave somewhat of a window into the lives of everyday residents of Xi’an. This was one of my best memories in terms of field trips within the program.

The final day of the program was the most challenging for me as I volunteered to speak in front of all the students attending the course and teachers about the experiences of the group throughout the summer school for the closing ceremony. This put me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to grow my skills in public speaking.

Following the closing ceremony, my group and I visited Haidilao, the most famous hot pot chain in China. This was a great memory as I tried a variety of foods including glass noodles, sweet pork buns and pork brain. Leaving the group.

Evaluation

Overall the trip to Xi’an and the summer school was probably one of the best experiences I have ever had. Meeting with many groups of people from all around d the world and being able to share experiences and culture together was unforgettable. The ideas and presentations made on the ICT field were tremendously helpful in furthering my personal skills and expanding my knowledge in the field. I highly commend Xidian University for providing us with an immensely valuable program and would recommend future students to embark on the journey as I found it to be a perspective-changing and unforgettable experience.

Lastly, I would like to thank Xidian University for hosting the program and providing us with the essentials such as accommodation, food and transport as well as Wollongong University for providing me with such a valuable opportunity. Special thankyou to Liju Dong of the international office for EIS who orchestrated communications and organised the Xidian Summer School program.