June 16, 2013, by Katie Angus
So this is my final blog post, quite a while after I have left Ningbo to travel Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, Hong Kong and Bali, Indonesia). I finished my exams –okay, my one exam- in late May (fantastically early compared to those back on the UK campus) and began to make the most of my time here, and geographic positioning close to some of the best holiday destinations in the world!
It was sad to say a last goodbye to Ningbo, experiences at University wherever you are, home or abroad always have their share of ups and downs, yet at Ningbo I found my experiences have been wholly positive and always worthwhile. Ningbo has offered me, academically, much more than I had previously expected. Different modules, class outlines, teaching methods and more have allowed my experience to be totally different to that at Nottingham UK –and that is an opportunity I most wanted to experience. I always had an aversion, previously to studying at Ningbo, to Postcolonial literature and theory (alongside Gender) but having focused (inevitably perhaps) upon such themes often in the classroom I have come to find a new and welcome interest in it. Studying Postcolonial literature, and theory, in Invention and Tradition and, to an extent Twentieth Century: Forms in Transition, in a country with abundant remnants of past colonial heritage, inheritance and influence was an experience I am unlikely to forget. Discussing literary themes, most notably in Stylistics, with those whose own opinions, rooted in their different cultures, can offer up new and exciting interpretations I never would have noted before was fantastic. Whilst reading poetry and prose from local and far flung cultures I would never have known or come to appreciate had I not been in Asia (in addition to learning of Chinese literature) was an unforgettable part of my academic life so far at University.
Outside of the classroom, Ningbo, and China more widely, proved to offer amazing experiences –music, food, sights and people differed from place to place and province to province more widely it seemed than from country to country in Europe. The pull of the cities such as Beijing and Shanghai fed my want, at times, to act as tourist but everyday life in Ningbo, and the places which surround it, allowed me a glimpse of China removed from the guidebook –an experience few get to have and from which there is much to learn.
I would wholeheartedly recommend the experience of studying English in China, no matter how unlikely it may sound! It reshaped my perceptions of the relationship between literature and language, and of people and their cultures. It left me with an appreciation not only for literature outside of Western culture, but life outside of the West –an experience which has unquestionably enhanced my life at University.