Broaden Your Mind. Study abroad, in Australia!

Did you know that this month is Study in Australia month?

To me, being able to live and study or work abroad is one of life’s greatest experiences. It is something to be encouraged because foreign students are basically a win-win for everyone involved. For the students going abroad, they get to learn (obviously) at a top-notch institution and to experience a new people and culture.

Study in Australia

Study in Australia

For the locals, they also get to mix with people from all races, religions and cultures. Indeed, some of my own fondest memories from uni are hanging out and mixing with international students, who have since become life -long friends. But it doesn’t just broaden the experience of everyone involved, it also causes a sharing of experiences and a mixing of ideas – which isĀ  ultimately what drives innovation. Just look what The Economist said about the success of Silicon Valley and the American economy itself. It puts this success down to ‘foreign students [who] make a significant contribution to innovation and entrepreneurship’!

And with the United Kingdom cutting the numbers of foreign students over the next five years (which I think is crazzzy), Australia is looking like a more popular place!

Of course, I know many of my international friends will pipe up with the common gripe that foreign students are sometimes treated as cash-cows, and I know that’s true. Put simply, some institutions need to do better with their services. But I also know that as competition for foreign students heats up, it drives up the quality of services provided. Also the institutions do listen, so please provide frank feedback. Furthermore, thorough research and talking to people in the know is vital before deciding where to go. And I’m pretty confident that if you speak to people you know who have gone to study in Australia, they’ll speak highly of their experiences. So whether you’re thinking of doing a bachelors, masters, or a diploma, or sending your kids to boarding school – think about Australia.



Disclaimer: Study in Australia month has been organized by the Australian Trade Commission and AustCham, along with the cooperation of the Federation of Australian Alumni Associations. Davyd is the current secretary of the University of New South Wales Alumni Association (Hong Kong).

We Need to Think to Save Our Planet …

In this mobile age, we’re all familiar with the problem of different sockets for electrical products in different countries. Traveling to Thailand? You’ll need a Type B or Type C adapter to recharge your camera. Touring Tahiti? Bring your Type A adapter for your iPod. Tramping through Tanzania – then you better pack a Type D or Type G adapter for your laptop. Due to various historical and geo-political reasons, each country has adopted different standards (and voltages) for the humble wall socket – a decision which has infuriated millions of businessman and travelers alike and caused billions of dollars in lost productivity. Which, as fate would have it, has only been offset by the highly profitable global adapter/converter industry it has spawned.

Now add on top of this the global supply chain and the production of consumer electronics for multiple markets. What’s a company to do if it is manufacturing and selling printers to Thailand, Tanzania and Tahiti – all shipped from the same factory? I imagine that Hewlett Packard, a most respectable company, must have faced this very issue when they came to designing their Laserjet Pro series of printers, one of which I recently purchased. Now, the printer is exactly the same for each country, it’s just this one little plug at the end that needs to be different?!

What to do? Well, one way would be to include three different power plugs (as highlighted with the red circles in the picture)…

Three Plugs or One? Ask 'Which is better for the Earth and your profitability?'

But wait a minute, including three different power plugs immediately means I will never use two. Why do I need the other two? It is a waste of resources and an unnecessary cost – ie lost profit. For the sake of simplicity (or laziness) no effort has been made to control which power-cord should be in which box for which market. This may be justified for reasons of inventory control.

But surely there must be a better way. And there is – why not include an adapter with changeable heads? That’s exactly what Apple Inc, does (See the green box in the picture). The top part of the adapter can be removed and changed to suit the different socket heads for each country. Simple, elegant and it takes a lot less space, metal and plastic than having three separate cords.

The challenge for our generation, and particularly those of us in developed countries, is how to maintain our quality of life while using less and less resources. That’ll take some creative thinking!

Have you got other examples of egregious wastage? Or brilliant earth saving ideas? Please share!

To Do All The Things That I’ve Always Wanted To Do

Have you ever made a list of all the things that you’ve always wanted to do? Well, I have.

And after I did, I realised two important things.

First, there is so much to do in life, so many opportunities to be seized, so many adventures to be had and so many joys to be shared!

Second, it is the possibility of achieving all these dreams that makes life interesting, even if that list of dreams keeps growing and changing.

My Bucket List

My Bucket List

So here’s some of the things on my list:

  1. To make creme brulee in the provincial French town of Creme Brulee.
  2. To explore the depths of the Amazon jungle with a deep fryer.
  3. To produce the musical adaptation of Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie.
  4. To teach English to poor kids in Surrey or Hampstead Heath.
  5. To finish High School.
  6. To release my album, Favourite Hymns from the local Chinese Takeaway.
  7. To be a street-sweeper on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
  8. To read a month’s worth of The Economist from cover to cover in a single month (this is, obviously, a stretch goal.)

Of course, the problem is finding time to achieve all these dreams. And while some will say that there will be plenty of time to do these things when you retire, the alarming truth is that in our generation we will have to work longer than our parents. For the retirement age must creep up – towards 70 (in part so we can support our aging parents!), and that’s not too far from the average life expectancy (especially for the blokes).

So don’t delay, make your bucket list today and get kicking while you still can. I am!