Not even a 6.8 magnitude earthquake could impact visiting south-west student Angela Alexander's trip to Chile in January.
Ms Alexander was one of 20 Victorian TAFE student ambassadors chosen for a state government overseas study trip and was told in an orientation session that tremors were a regular occurrence and to stay calm.
"He said you can always tell a tourist because they're the ones who are 'oh my God what's going on?'. He said 'don't worry about it. Don't do that. Just look around. You'll see the locals just get on with it, that's what we want you to do you're completely safe'."
So when she felt tremors, which tuned out to be a significant earthquake 400 kilometers away, she didn't blink an eye. "You could feel it shaking for about a minute and things were rattling but we were as cool as cucumbers. The next day it was all over the news and it was the real deal and we were so relaxed," she recalled.
Ms Alexander who is studying the Diploma of Business and Leadership and said the trip was incredible. Visiting students were paired with Duoc University students and a local business operator to develop a business and marketing plan for them to export their wares to Australia. "It was really interesting, really practical and really hands on. I loved it. It was amazing I couldn't recommend it highly enough," she said.
The students visited various businesses, and looked at their operations and development. The one that proved most interesting was Banco Santander, a family-owned bank, which she likened to a Starbucks coffee shop. "When you go into the banks it's like a cafe. You put why you're there into an electronic screen then you go and get your coffee, you sit down and someone comes out and chats to you. I thought how lovely."
Most impressive, she said was a Chilean government initiative called Start Up Chile, where foreigners with successful business ideas are given a 12-month visa, a salary, free office space, access to mentors and other support to get new businesses off the ground.
If it goes well and meets certain criteria, the visa can be extended and the given the option to stay permanently.
"It's motivating and it's exciting. Even if it's not for me I can tell some other young person (about Start Up Chile). It's brilliant for both of our countries and I can't emphasise it enough. I loved Chile. It was brilliant. The people were warm and friendly and they've got these initiatives and they want people to come."
She also visited Valparaiso, local sites and had various cultural experiences hoping to return to Chile in the future.
The Victorian Government launched its new trade and investment strategy for Latin America in May which included the announcement of a new outbound mobility program for Victorian TAFE students to study in Chile.
SW TAFE international specialist John Cook said overseas networks provided great opportunities and cultural experiences for Ms Alexander and others.
"From a TAFE perspective we embrace the opportunity to give our students that opportunity, he said. "We're really thankful for the state government and Victorian TAFE international, they set the whole project up and provided the support mechanisms.
"We really encourage where we can all our students to have the opportunity for international travel and international learning and cross cultural exchanges."
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