Country of origin: United Kingdom
Area Manager, Aldi UK
China is not the first destination that springs to mind when most people contemplate where to spend their summer holidays, but Asia is a place that I have always wanted to visit. When I received an email from the LUMS International Office offering two students the opportunity to spend three weeks in China I knew I had to apply!
Combined with my interest and experience in different countries, cultures and economies, the Sun Yat-sen International Summer Programme provided the unique opportunity for me to combine study and cultural experience, whilst enhancing my skills academically, personally and socially.
My experience in China was amazing. It was totally different to anything or anywhere I have ever experienced before and it wasn’t easy to adjust to such a different culture at first; the weather, language barriers and learning to eat with chopsticks were a few of the hurdles I had to overcome in the first few days! However, once I adapted to the Chinese way of life I absolutely loved it.
I met people on the programme from all over the world; from Taiwan and South Korea to Germany and Australia, and I found it was a great opportunity for me to spend time with people who I might not usually have got the chance to, if in another environment. I genuinely feel this was my first stepping-stone in achieving life-long friendships and networks with people from over the world.
The summer programme consisted of Chinese language classes in the mornings and Chinese Business or Politics classes in the afternoons. There were also days when we had cultural classes such as Chinese calligraphy, papercutting, and Tai Chi, which were really interesting and really fun to get involved with.
The language classes were compulsory and were really useful. I was in the level 1 beginner’s class as I had only had a few hours of Mandarin lessons before but by the end of the programme, I was confident in my ability to speak basic Mandarin.
I opted for the Business classes because I felt they would be more relevant to my degree and I learnt a lot about the economy of China and the differences in the business world compared to Western countries. It has definitely taught me the importance of making an effort to understand the unique nature of Chinese business and its people if I want to be successful in any business opportunities in China in the future.
In today’s graduate job market, I believe that having studied abroad will set me apart from other employees, giving me the edge I need in this competitive environment. My time in China has provided me with a greater understanding of different cultures and has given me the opportunity to see things from different perspectives.
It was exciting, interesting and educational, and was three of the best weeks of my life. I couldn’t recommend this summer programme more to anybody who is thinking about applying for it. Definitely go for it!