Studying in China: XJTLU Summer School

Posted on: 8 October 2018 by Florence Whitton in 2018/19

Florence and friends exploring China

Florence spent a summer in China on the XJTLU summer school. Here she shares her experiences of the summer of a lifetime!

For me, studying abroad was a life enhancing opportunity to fully come out of my shell and immerse myself in an alternative culture. When I originally arrived in China, I felt a sense of culture shock, as Chinese day-to-day activities and life is so incredibly different to what I am use to and comfortable with. For this reason, during the first few weeks in China I found it challenging to confidently go out without the friends I had made. However, after over six weeks abroad, when it came to my last week, the new friends I had spent my time with were leaving before me. This at first was daunting to me, but when it came to the last days on my own I actually looked forward to applying the Chinese language I had learnt throughout the summer into real life situations to navigate myself around an unfamiliar city.

Rather than staying in as I had no one to explore with, I took this opportunity to visit Shanghai, one of the world’s largest cities, on my own accord. I went up Shanghai Tower (the second tallest building in the world), visited the Bund, Nanjing Road and People’s Square. These few days were one of the many highlights of my experience in China due to the confidence I had gained throughout the trip. This experience was unique to me as I would have usually stayed inside my comfort zone, but I am proud of myself for really making the most out of the programme.

The foremost advice I would give to anyone who decides to study abroad is to utilise their time away as they will not get it back. For example, for me, as well as learning Chinese language and exploring Suzhou, the city I lived in, it was important that I visited as many places as possible, including Beijing, the Yellow Mountains and Shanghai, so I didn’t look back on my adventure with regret. Not only this but putting myself out there to make new friends and form connections with people from all over the world to appreciate and understand other cultures, such as Korea, Poland, Russia, Canada among many others. This was invaluable and unique to me as it is rare that I have the opportunity to meet so many new people, who I will stay in touch with and meet again in the near future.

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