Country of origin: Germany
BSc Business Studies
Nicholas spent the second year of his BSc Business Studies degree studying abroad in the southern city of Guangzhou in China. He embraced the opportunity to study Mandarin and encourages other students to visit China.
Guangzhou is a vast city in Southern China that perfectly exemplifies the scope and speed of economic prosperity throughout the country. It includes international trading centres alongside beautifully traditional districts which together offer an interesting combination of modern and old. This meant that during my year in China, I could explore unfamiliar customs on the one side while enjoying the comfort of an international community on the other.
Lingnan College is the business school of Sun Yat-Sen University and is located right in the heart of Guangzhou. It manages to attract students from all over China due to its reputation as one of the leading business schools in the country. The lecturers and mentors range from Chinese-educated individuals to international industry experts who showcase a variety of different teaching methods.
Overall, my university studies allowed for plenty of hard work but left enough time for me to pursue my extracurricular interests. I therefore spent many hours on the football fields and badminton courts on campus trying to keep up with skilled Chinese students. But most of my spare time I dedicated to studying Mandarin Chinese which became a priority early on, even though it proved extraordinarily hard to learn.
The interested and forthcoming nature of Chinese peers made it very easy to get acquainted with local students. I enjoyed many long conversations with students from all over the country who granted valuable insights and showed me the variety of different opinions on life in China.
Some closer friendships also enabled me to see events and visit places which would have otherwise been inaccessible. During the week of the mid-autumn festival, for instance, I was invited to join a friend and her family for their celebrations in the rural mountain regions of Guangdong Province. Not only could I partake in the traditional festivities but also see for myself what the obvious differences between urban and rural China really are.
Beside mainland China, it is definitely worth visiting the country’s special administrative regions. And Guangzhou is located perfectly for such weekend trips as gambling expeditions to Macau or sightseeing tours of Hong Kong. Because both these regions are former European colonies, it is interesting to see the way in which Southern Chinese culture has mixed with European elements. But in addition to weekend trips, Guangzhou also offers an ideal starting point for some of the world’s most renowned backpacking destinations. During the four weeks of winter vacation, for example, I left the city by train for Vietnam and slowly made my way through Southeast Asia to Myanmar.
The reason why I decided to study in China was to see for myself what life is actually like in this country that has drawn the world’s attention. Throughout my year in Guangzhou I got to know China as a country of contrasts between rich and poor, differences between young and old and contradictions between perception and reality. I recommend that everyone take advantage of the opportunity to experience the country during this historical period of change.