Giulia Ravasi

Country of origin: Italy

Currently a student on Lancaster's MSc in International Innovation

In the multicultural environment and atmosphere of Lancaster University Management School, I am surrounded and I work on a daily basis with students from all over the world. In particular, while collaborating with Chinese students on group projects and spending time with them, I became truly fascinated and curious about the Chinese culture, customs and traditions and I was looking for the right opportunity to visit Asia one day. So, when I was informed that LUMS and Lancaster China Management Centre were offering a scholarship to attend the Sun Yat-Sen University International Summer Programme in Guangzhou, I took advantage of this unique opportunity.

I believe that cross-cultural awareness, adaptability and open-mindedness are crucial skills for a graduate in the today’s globalised world. Therefore, I am always interested in learning about different cultures, willing to broaden my international horizons and enrich my international competences. Sun Yat-Sen University International Summer Programme was the unique opportunity of combining study and cultural experience whilst enhancing my skills academically, personally and socially. Other than enabling me to fully immerse myself in the Chinese culture, through working, living and socialising, this was also a chance to experience the differences between our university and a successful university in a different continent.

Moreover, this three-week summer school turned out to be the perfect opportunity to meet a whole range of students with similar mind-set and determination coming from various universities from all over the world. Students’ backgrounds were so diverse, from Australia and Canada to South Korea, Taiwan, India, Colombia and Denmark.

My experience in China was unforgettable. There were so many different opportunities for cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural learning and the learning was not restricted to the hours of lectures. The highlights of the programme were the Chinese Mandarin language classes in the morning and a choice between business management and politics courses in the afternoon.

Before going to China, the Lancaster China Management Centre offered me a tailored course at Confucius Institute which gave me a taste of conversational Mandarin. The language classes, focusing on daily communication, provided me with the basics to be able to go out in the city and try out my skills. By the end of the programme, I was finally confident of speaking basic Mandarin, asking for prices and negotiating a bargain. Also, a few mornings we had cultural experience classes, such as Tai Chi, paper cutting and calligraphy.

In the afternoon, I opted for the China Business Studies courses. The course was designed by Lingnan College, the leading business school within Sun Yat-Sen University. Aimed at introducing both theoretical and practical knowledge of Chinese businesses and how these operate in domestic and global markets, lectures showcased a variety of topics focusing on the differences in doing business between Eastern and Western countries. For instance, different lecturers and experts covered topics such as Chinese economy, Chinese entrepreneurship, cross-cultural encounters and effective communication with Chinese, business negotiation in China, globaliSation and global strategies of Chinese enterprises, Chinese golden growth path, protection of intellectual property and business ethics and ethical decision making. In addition to this course syllabus, we had the opportunity to visit two companies - the Pearl River Piano Group, China’s largest piano manufacturer, and Borche, a factory that produces injection molding machines.

The programme was truly complete as it allowed me to visit places that would have been inaccessible otherwise. For instance, we went on a two-day weekend trip to a few tourist sites in Guangdong province, a night cruise on Pearl River and a visit to Lingnan Impression Park and the Guangdong Museum. With the other students from Lancaster, we also spent a weekend in Hong Kong, a place that can be easily reached by train in two hours. Luckily, I also had the opportunity to meet an alumnus from LUMS that moved back to his hometown in China after he graduated.

During my three weeks in Guangzhou, I got to know China as a fast growing and vibrant place, land of great opportunities. Guangzhou offers a taste of real China, with traditional districts and the wonderful Cantonese cuisine alongside modern international trading centres where you can experience first-hand the rapidly evolving economic prosperity of the country.

I believe I emerged from the Summer Programme as a global citizen with deep China insights and enhanced career preparation. I have gained a deeper understanding of the world’s fastest-growing major economy and its peculiarities. I learned about the innovations that are characterising the country and Chinese brands that are gaining international ground, such as Lenovo and Ozark. I also had the opportunity to visit Ogilvy & Mather offices in Guangzhou and learnt a great deal about local advertising and Chinese social media, like Weibo. It broadened my horizons and showed me the different options of life in China enabling me to consider new and different alternatives I hadn’t considered previously. Indeed, I have now different perspectives and new aspirations.

To conclude, as I wish to pursue an international career and being attracted by the vibrant culture of China and its booming economy, I hope that the Sun Yat-Sen International Summer Programme allowed me to enhance my future employability. The necessary knowledge, international network and valuable experience that I gained will be crucial if I ever want to be successful in any business opportunity in China in the future.

It has truly been great and I am confident that this experience has enhanced my ability to collaborate with students with different backgrounds and my interpersonal skills have been strongly enhanced.  So, I genuinely encourage any student who is curious about the country that has drawn the world’s attention to take advantage of this opportunity and make the most of the summer break.