In the exotic north-west Indian state of Gujarat lies Ahmedabad, the largest city in the region and home to CEPT University. Third-year Interior Architecture student Timothy Truong is currently there on exchange as part of the suite of international exchange experiences provided by UNSW Built Environment. He says the exchange has surpassed all his expectations – so much so that he has extended his stay by another semester.

“I chose India and CEPT because I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to learn within an eastern context and in a land so rich in culture, patterns, symmetry and, of course, colour! Another factor was that India is a hugely overcrowded place and, as Sydney is becoming overcrowded, why not learn about some of the methods which are employed here?” he says.

"This exchange has taught me an immense amount, purely through the rich pool of knowledge, not only at CEPT University but the city of Ahmedabad itself. It has generations of artisans who each have an amazing story to tell and are eager to share the knowledge of their craft.”

Timothy is also a passionate photographer, and the chance to study abroad and immerse himself in a new culture – and to capture all the memories on his camera – was simply too good to pass up.

He says that the CEPT University exchange has helped set up his career in design.

"Having both UNSW and CEPT on my resume is a great stepping-stone to many extremely prestigious firms which are more than happy to take you onboard and train you. Not only has it been an incredibly rich education experience, it has introduced me to people who I am eager to connect and work with in the future.

"The faculty members have a wealth of knowledge and I can just see myself seeking their advice down the track."

Timothy says he recommends exchange for any student wanting to expand their creative practice. 

"Experiences shape you as a person and how you design, so if you're given the privilege to go on exchange, give it a shot and enjoy the ride. It is definitely a rich, character-refining experience and lots of fun.

“I have learnt so much about the crafts in Ahmedabad and gained a family of like-minded people on this intimate campus."

Timothy has also had the opportunity to intern at prestigious architecture firm Sangath by architect Balkrishna V Doshi. 

After graduating, Timothy says he would love to work in a firm where he can convey stories through his work. He also has some side projects with orphanages in India and hopes to keep designing for them and helping wherever he can.

Follow Timothy Truong on Instagram @timmysauce.

Find out more about Interior Architecture at UNSW.