May 4, 2014, by Student blogger
Studying abroad – it’s not scary, promise!
By Peggy Hennery, BA International Studies.
Every student has a different reason for choosing to study abroad. When I get asked, I always have the same answer – I want to explore the world. It’s such a cliché, I know, but it’s true! Moving from my home to university was a big step, but once I made the break, I didn’t want to stop. My parents were fairly keen on the idea of me going abroad until I announced I was heading to UNNC. They couldn’t understand why I wanted to go so far away to somewhere so different. But China is a vast and diverse country, with the highest population and the most spoken language in the world, yet it’s still fairly undiscovered by the West. Now, at some point somebody is going to turn around, realise just how much there is to explore in China and suddenly it will be a top tourist destination. While I believe China will retain its true identity, some of the magic may get lost. I hope to explore China before that happens.
I will be honest, being so far away from friends and family does have its downsides. I don’t know anybody who hasn’t been a little bit homesick at some point. However, it’s easier than you think to make friends in Ningbo, so you’re unlikely to feel lonely. Also, I’m finding that with Skype and WeChat, my family, friends and boyfriend don’t seem all that far away, so don’t let homesickness put you off doing what could be one of your greatest adventures. When going abroad, it will be what you learn outside of the classroom that will really stay with you. Of course your classes are important, they don’t call it STUDY abroad for nothing, but the experiences you have and friends you make will be what’s really important.
Outside of university life, there’s rather a lot to explore. In the Spring Festival holiday I was fortunate enough to travel northwards from Ningbo to see some of China’s highlights. Along my ventures I visited Shanghai and Beijing, but the highlight for me was heading to Harbin. Due to our disorganisation we forgot to book a train from Beijing to Harbin, so we were stuck on a 17 hour bus ride, but it was absolutely worth it. Waiting in Harbin in temperatures colder than -20C was the Ice and Snow Festival, a stunningly mesmerising collection of structures made entirely from ice. I enjoyed slipping down ice slides whilst my companion embraced the ice bar and we later regrouped at the hot springs. Not one minute of this adventure could I have experienced at home.
One of my favourite things about Ningbo is its amalgamation of Chinese and Western cultures. Everything from UNNC’s English garden to the city’s Irish pubs offer homely comforts, whilst also finding yourself submerged in Chinese tradition and historical museums. UNNC offers a ‘wanderluster’ everything they could want, whether it is for a single semester, an entire year or your whole degree. Like all adventures, it will have its ups and downs, but I guarantee you won’t regret a second of it.
Great blog written on studying abroad. I agree that if you study abroad you not only have access to great universities but you are able to learn about life by immersing yourself in other cultures. It is also part of the university of life. There is so much to learn not only from the people but the wildlife, the birds, the cooking! Enjoy your studies in another culture, your entire life will be changed for the better. It was nice reading the post about studying abroad, East Africa also has some great places to study and some amazing cultures to see east african safari to see another amazing culture and study at the same time
I know a lot of Chinese students studying abroad seem to find it hard to adjust. I think part of this is because of their English level and their difficulty understanding more natural English. A lot of Chinese students before arriving prepare for the IELTS exam and learn English artificially through memorization. Many of the English preparation classes are taught in Chinese and students communicate with each other in Chinese as well. This leads to poor fluency and confidence in using English. These students will then temporarily gain fluency in the short-term by constant practice, often just on their own, before the IELTS exam. And then once the exam is over, they’ll turn back to Chinese and be fairly unprepared for the English demands first year university. I suggest students to prepare for studying abroad by using a native English speaking tutor. That way they’ll be forced to use English all the time while learning. A good online IELTS teacher is available to help at http://www.onlineenglishsuccess.com. Students can also do more reading in English, including reading IELTS exercises (in English) at http://www.ieltsessays.com.