Alumni Spotlight: Dante Staneke

Dante is a diligent young adult who is passionate about problem solving and learning, always ready to stretch himself, and always ready to be challenged. He is excited about travelling the world to see what the next big journey offers.

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Why did you choose this program?

The South East Asia study tour looked like a great opportunity to explore both Singapore and Vietnam in an organized and exciting way. The prospect of having local buddies to show us around the city and help with the language barrier was a great relief. The university staff never hesitated to help the students when needed and provided good plans to mitigate any unforeseen problems that could occur while being overseas.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The University of Newcastle providers created a pre-departure guide to help give the students an understanding of what was required in Vietnam, what to expect and areas of concern to watch for. Additionally, prior to leaving Australia, there was a pre-departure meeting where things such as insurance and the must go places were discussed. The program provider and other university staff basically set up the entire trip; all that was required to organise on our own was the flights and vaccines required, making it nice and easy on the students.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

My advice for students wanting to go on the South East Asia study tour would be to just enjoy the trip while it lasts and take as many photos as possible, because, as cliché as it sounds, the time over there will go so quick.

It is important to remember that going on an overseas study tour is not just about studying the whole time. People are there to forge new friendships and experience a different culture. On this note, I challenge you to take the opportunity to study overseas if it is available to you.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

The study tour will have the whole week planned out for you, so there is no need to worry about not knowing what to do.

In one week, there will generally be two eight hour classes and four industry visits. In between these, the week will be filled with cultural events, city tours, possibly some volunteer work and free time in the afternoon for you to explore the city on your own volition.

A typical afternoon could be spent walking the streets to find some great bargains at local markets, to eating the best traditional foods at the nearest food market, to playing indoor soccer with your mates at a local sports centre. The best thing is, you get to choose what you want to do.

While eight hours for a class may seem challenging, regular breaks are provided and the way the course is taught provides easier understanding of the content.

The industry visits are fantastic experiences and give insight into the workplaces outside of Australia. On these visits, you get to see the company/factory with a tour guide and ask all sorts of questions. The industry visits count to one weeks’ worth of mandatory workplace experience for the engineering degree, which is a great bonus.

Whether it's staying overnight at the Mekong delta or touring out to the Cu Chi tunnels, the study tour provides great cultural and historical experiences.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

The biggest fear I faced going into my overseas experience as an introvert was gaining independence. Throughout my life, I had grown accustomed to spending time at home with my family. I had never lived solely on my own before, and when I had gone on previous holidays, I was always with some members of my family. For the first time in my life, I was travelling to a different part of the world, just by myself, going to explore the unknown. This thought was daunting for me. Additionally, the language barrier was another small fear I had appropriated.

That thought process vanished in as little as a week into the trip. I made many new friends during the study tour through the orientation and welcome dinner, as well as group activities. The atmosphere and energy displayed by the Vietnamese local buddies at these events helped me to ignore the introvert side and to become more proactive with the other students. The local buddies taught us some fundamental Vietnamese words and phrases, and since they were with us on most activities, the language barrier was no longer an issue. Since both fears I initially had diminished, I was able to make the most of the trip and create many great memories.

How have your views/values changed after being on the SE Vietnam study tour?

The three weeks that I spent in Vietnam gave me a unique insight and greater appreciation into the world around me. Going to Vietnam has made me value the things I take for granted in Australia, such as just being able to drink clean water from the tap. I discovered that the people of Vietnam are so generous and forgiving. It was interesting to visit historical places such as the War Remnants Museum as I got to see a different perspective of the war invasion. Overall, the study tour provided me with a sense of gratification in both education and travel.