Every day, an astonishing 14 million people navigate Tokyo’s intricate train network, home to most of the busiest train stations in the world. Now, imagine a group of undergraduate students from MQBS amid this bustling urban labyrinth. For many, this trip marked their first journey without the reassuring presence of their parents. For some, it was their first time travelling outside of Australia!

Real-world education: the Macquarie way

The global pandemic put a rapid holt to international travel, making this the first opportunity for students at MQBS to be part of an international study tour since 2019. The goal: to challenge and immerse themselves in the vibrant culture, rich history and dynamic business landscape of Japan, fostering cross-cultural understanding, teamwork and communication skills – contributing to both personal growth and employability in the future and reflecting our MQBS mission statement, to be “inspiring and engaged”!

For example, engaging in a local sushi-making class, students experienced firsthand the meticulous attention to detail ingrained in Japanese culture as they learned about the precision and care required in each step of the process.

Students participating in a sushi-making class
Students from Macquarie and Tokyo Metropolitan University.

Similarly, meeting with students from Tokyo Metropolitan University, our partner university in Japan, and discussing the challenges and expectations faced by Japanese students entering the competitive job market, allowed students to reflect on their own experience in Australia.

Even a visit to Disneyland offered unique perspectives on marketing strategies and customer engagement, showcasing the innovative and highly effective approaches which seamlessly blend entertainment with cultural nuances specific to Japan to create a compelling and immersive experience for visitors from around the globe.

Visiting a local restaurant was another eye-opening experience for the team, allowing students to learn more about the heritage of the Ainu people, indigenous to the Hokkaido region in Northern Japan.

As a person who typically avoids trying new dishes, this experience has broadened my global perspective on the role of food in understanding its history. Moving forward, I aim to embrace new culinary experiences with an open mind as a sign of respect.

Hannah Mercado (Bachelor of Business, majoring in Business Administration, and secretary for the student society Women Entering Business)
Sampling the local cuisine

From train station confusion to interview preparation

In Japan, even the simplest interactions or unexpected situations presented unique learning opportunities for the team – often the result of language barriers and cultural differences. Routine tasks, such as ordering a coffee, could become a small challenge that students had to tackle head-on, sometimes individually and sometimes with peers, creating unique opportunities for building their own confidence.

I never realised that a line of encouragement, not from a celebrity, not from a millionaire, not from family or friends, but from myself, could do more for my self-esteem than I ever imagined before boarding that plane.

Jason Prasad (Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Marketing Management)

Equally, something as unassuming as getting the train home became a unique learning experience:

We found ourselves in the middle of Shibuya Station with 30 minutes until the last train, realising it wasn’t a simple Chatswood to Cherrybrook train home. This experience enhanced my ability to be persistent and logical in the face of pure confusion and has taught me the value of preparation when tackling something new. For example, in preparing for an upcoming interview, I have now spoken with one of my friend’s brothers who completed an internship with the same firm, asking him for advice. I don’t believe I would have contacted him if not for being taught the value of adequate preparation, regardless of how well I think I would have done in the interview.”

Alex Mills (Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Economics)

Offering perspective to industry specialists through a unique lens

MQ students presenting to consultancy agency Seiya Nakamura 2.24

Amidst a busy schedule of cultural activities, students collaborated with powerhouse Seiya Nakamura 2.24, a multidisciplinary consulting agency with offices and showrooms located in Paris, Tokyo and Shanghai, providing a bridge between classroom and boardroom, allowing students to gain practical skills and insights into the world of international business, and preparing them to be the changemakers of the future.

Representing a variety of majors across MQBS provided for a rich tapestry of perspectives and expertise, enabling students to approach challenges from various angles, fostering creativity and innovation in problem-solving, but also providing moments of self-realisation:

There’s always been this nagging feeling that I didn’t quite know what I was talking about, and this often resulted in me holding back my thoughts and ideas from others until they felt flawless. This journey was a profound learning experience, one that helped alleviate the pressure of requiring perfection or expertise to make a meaningful contribution. Through my own unique lens, I was able to offer a fresh perspective – an endeavor that proved both enlightening and empowering.

Renita Royce (Bachelor of Actuarial Studies and Bachelor of Information Technology)

Aligned with our MQBS mission statement to “solve societies biggest problems”, students also learned about the new lenses used in the fashion industry, particularly the lens of sustainability from both consumers and producers.

After presenting their work, Global Sales Director Marco Romano highlighted that although they had been “extremely confident in the student’s abilities and the quality of work they could deliver, this has gone beyond our expectations. Their ability to research and develop their findings was remarkable!’ Originally, the team had been introduced to Marco and Seiya Nakamura 2.24 by MQ alumnus Associate Professor Josh Kidd, now working at Utsunomiya University in Japan and active member of the Macquarie Alumni Network – Japan.

Exemplifying ‘You to the power of us’

The success of this two-week trip was the result of a monumental team effort, with individuals from all across the world working together to make for a seamless experience for our students – that’s you to the power of us! Prior to departure, academic lead and Unit Convenor, Dr Rebecca Bachmann worked closely with a dedicated team here in Sydney: Sabrine Al-Thary and her colleagues from the Global Office provided invaluable administrative support, while Associate Dean (Curriculum and Learning) Stephanie Huang, offered guidance and expertise. Dorothy Chan and her team from CISAustralia also formed an integral part of the team, all the way from Brisbane!

In Tokyo, Rebecca, fellow MQBS academic Dr Prashan Karunaratne, and local guide extraordinaire Ying Gu formed a dynamic trio. Together, they coordinated logistics, facilitated enriching experiences, and ensured the smooth running of the program. Their collective dedication, expertise, and passion were instrumental in creating a transformative and unforgettable journey for our students. Throughout the trip, they showcased the importance of teamwork, leading by example and encouraging students to collaborate and support each other.

Rebecca Bachmann and Prashan Karunaratne, MQBS.

A true reflection of our MQBS mission statement: “education and research that is useful to students throughout their careers.”

The bonds forged with my teammates underscored the importance of trust, communication, and mutual support in achieving common goals. Our shared experiences exemplified the power of collaboration and the strength that comes from embracing diverse perspectives.

Kiara Younan (Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Economics)
Back row, left to right: Jason Prasad, Brandon Chan, Marcus Ryan, Jeremy Komonen, Alex Mills, Keagan Berndt, Anika Pande, Kiara Younan, Rebecca Bachmann, Ying Gu
Front row, left to right: Kyle O’Connor, Renita Royce, Hannah Mercado, Prashan Karunaratne, Arden Apiromdej, Sean Kore

How the study tour was funded

A large proportion of this trip was funded by the New Colombo Plan, a signature initiative of the Australian Government to support undergraduates to undertake study, language training and internships in the Indo-Pacific. Additionally, students were eligible to apply for OS-HELP, a loan available to students undertaking some of their course overseas. Both initiatives ensured that the program was accessible to a diverse audience.

If you feel inspired to run a faculty-led study tour for students in the next 12-18 months, please submit your proposal via the EOI form linked here. The Student Mobility team will review the proposal and coordinate a meeting to discuss the proposed study tour. If you have any questions, please contact the Student Mobility Team on: exchange.studyabroad@mq.edu.au

Banner image: Photo by Ying Gu
Other images in order of appearance: Rebecca Bachmann, Yujiro Kisu, Ying Gu, Prashan Karunaratne, Ying Gu, Random kind stranger at Disneyland.
Post compiled by Kylie Coaldrake

Posted by Rebecca Bachmann

Rebecca L. Bachmann (FHEA) is a Lecturer in the Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance at Macquarie Business School, as well as the Deputy Course Director for the Bachelor of Commerce. Rebecca is passionate about cultivating a captivating learning experience and known to create an inclusive and engaging learning environment. Specifically, by adeptly incorporating innovative teaching techniques that appeal to diverse learning styles and foster active participation. Her dedication to student success is reflected in her approachable demeanour, ensuring that each student feels valued and empowered in their academic journey, earning recognition from both students and colleagues alike.

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