Country of origin: Lithuania
Currently a student on Lancaster's MSc in International Innovation (Entrepreneurship)
If someone had told me last year that I would spend three weeks of my summer in China, I would probably just have laughed at such an idea. I always admired the culture of the Far East, but it was just a dream due to lack of opportunities to fulfill it. Thus, when I received an email from LUMS with an offer to participate in the International Summer Program in Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, I didn’t have any problems with finding motivation for my cover letter.
Studies at Sun Yat-Sen consisted of two parts. The first, Chinese Language and Cultural Experience, was compulsory for every student. For the second one, we could choose from two choices – China Business Studies or Chinese Politics and Cultural Studies. As they were more relevant for my studies and more interesting to me, I chose the former and I never regretted it.
Before leaving for summer, the Confucius Institute at Lancaster University kindly offered to provide us with ten hours of introductory Chinese lessons, which were a great help before the lectures at Sun Yat-Sen, as it gave me a firm base and I could spend more time immersing myself in the very different culture and making friends with the other students.
In the Business classes we were presented with some cultural aspects that affect the way business is done in China, which we might not have encountered in Europe, such as guanxi. That being said, not everything was China-specific; there was some material I had studied before, but nonetheless I learned quite a lot as it was presented through a different prism, reflecting the differences between the East and the West.
The students in the programme came from all around the world – I met people from the US, Australia, South Korea, Colombia and many others. Even though Lancaster University has a very multicultural student population, in some cases it was the first time I had an opportunity to explore the culture of one country or another. I came back home having learnt a lot about the Chinese culture and also about those of other countries, making it an invaluable experience.
I believe that the three weeks I have spent in China would set me apart from other graduates in the market as the studies have provided me with a better understanding of cultural differences and cross-cultural communication in both theoretical and practical ways. Also, due to this experience I am more able to step out of my comfort zone and adapt to different environments.
Overall, the three weeks in China were probably the best time of my life so far. If anyone has an opportunity to take a similar offer from LUMS, I would definitely suggest doing so. Prepare yourself for an incredible adventure!