October 27, 2014, by Student blogger
How to have a happy year abroad
By Shivali Mistry, MSci Accounting and Finance for Contemporary China
As I embarked upon my journey to Asia last August, I felt highly unprepared. The idea of a year away from home still felt so surreal. Naively, I had dealt with the entire situation in a very relaxed manner.
I began my voyage with a two week tour of India and then I moved to China at the beginning of September. My mother accompanied me to China for one week, to help me settle into my new dormitory. As soon as she went, I felt lost. I struggled to envision how I would fit into this new country. The society in general was different to the UK and simpler compared to India. I remember feeling very clueless and unaware of my surroundings. I was not ready for this year.
Fortunately, a steady stream of friends began to arrive, giving me a sense of familiarity again. Lectures began soon too, though it was difficult to reacquaint myself with the routine of university, especially after my fun-filled summer off.
I gradually became more accustomed to the Chinese lifestyle as the months flew by, but I still felt unsure and less confident within myself. I therefore decided to explore more and organised several small trips with friends. During my first semester we travelled to Shanghai, climbed the popular Huangshan Mountain and celebrated Christmas in Hong Kong. These travels exposed some of China’s unique beauty to me and I felt a sense of gratefulness.
After the dreaded exams we were blessed with a month’s holiday. During the first few weeks of my holiday, my brother came to visit. I had organised our travel plans in advance and we explored Ningbo, Beijing and Shanghai. The tour went as planned and incident-free, giving me a confidence boost in arranging tours myself. Once my brother left China, I travelled to Wuxi and Xi’an to visit their popular tourist attractions. Throughout my journey I was able to interact with Chinese locals, which on reflection was a greater experience than I considered it to be at the time. Being able to hold a general conversation with these locals definitely boosted my confidence. The Chinese people were very generous.
Returning to Ningbo, I felt I was coming back as a different, more mature individual, as the tour enabled me to grow. The various people I encountered and experiences I gained from my holiday helped me into becoming the person I long wanted to be.
As I come to the end of my stay, I am still constantly seeking new experiences. Meeting newer people on campus occurs on a daily basis; the students are very welcoming and usually share similar interests to me.
I would like to thank The University of Nottingham for this life changing year abroad in China. The unforgettable experiences and people have all added up. I can leave knowing I had a year full of new achievements which I had never even imagined doing in my lifetime. I would also like to thank my friends and family who have constantly supported me throughout my entire year away. Inevitably, being away from home for an entire year is difficult, but their moral support helped me immensely. I can now go back to the UK as a happier and more confident person than I started off with at the beginning of the year.
This post was originally published as ‘My China experience’ on the UNNC School of Contemporary Chinese Studies blog.