School of Civil Engineering

Project Team: Imad Shraim, Peri Albert, Pratvi Patel, Yash Kamal, Annabel Liu, Natasha Natamihardja, Roy Zhu

Report written by Peri Albert.

The Tianjin tour is a collaboration between the University of Queensland Confucius Institute and Tianjin University (TJU) in China. For one month, students travel to other universities to experience their culture and learn what life is like for students on the other side of the world. During the 2016 tour, I was one of the students who participated in this tour. The Icarus Program provides top-up funding for Icarus students participating in the program to grow research collaboration opportunities between UQ and TJU.

Tianjin University, formerly known as the Peiyang University, was the first modern university to be opened in China and is one of the top 10 universities in China. Before the trip began this was just about all I knew, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Right from the moment you enter China you find out that it is big. Really big, and the university was no exception. If you’re thinking of going, bring your walking shoes, because it is no small feat to trek across the campus everyday. 

On an average day, we would begin our mornings by going to our language classes and learning mandarin. After that, we would then either watch a seminar on many different aspects of Chinese culture, which included the history of China, medicine practices and martial arts, or we would get to do practical work involving Chinese culture, some of which included seal cutting, painting and tai chi (tai chi was surprisingly hard). 

During the lunch break, we would generally go to the cafeteria which was a huge open room with many different counters, where you could buy a huge meal for as little as $2. I also enjoyed going to a food vendor who would make a large bowl of fried rice in a wok right in front of me, or just buying one of the many different kinds of packet noodles that can be found in any convenience store. 

During the afternoon we would break up into our respective research groups and pursue research work under our TJU supervisors. My supervisor was researching how butanol would affect emissions in an engine, when mixed with petrol. I personally spent a lot of time researching different things, however there was a breadth of experiences across different groups, which included the civil engineering group who travelled around to different construction sites. 

The most fun was had when we were on our free time or on the weekends, when we could go out and explore China. After mastering the metro system in Tianjin, we got to experience the real city; crazy driving, bright lights as far as the eye can see and tiny stores tucked into every corner. Many of our nights were spent venturing into the city, where we would walk around, try our luck with street vendors and even try to reach the top floor of half a dozen different buildings, which we were surprisingly successful in. The weekends away from Tianjin were also amazing. We saw the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and many other many unique things about China.  

My final thoughts on the trip are these. This was the kind of experience that you don’t come across often, and the experience you have while over there will last a lifetime. This trip will expand your thinking and you will learn more than you thought you would, I know it definitely did for me. 

Study tour students at completion of tour.

Icarus students presenting a UQ Icarus-ICE event 'Engineering in China'