The decision of studying in the Department of Languages and Cultures at Lancaster University has so far been one of the best decisions in my life.
The unusual course of Spanish combined with Chinese attracted me immensely. As Chinese is gradually becoming more dominant and meaningful in the world, I decided to give it a try. A few months after I had been admitted to the course, I travelled with my suitcase to the historic city of Lancaster in North-West England to start the new chapter in my life. Full of excitement and joy, but uncertainties and fear at the same time I moved into my student accommodation in Furness College. I had no idea what my life would look like from that point.
Two academic years of my degree passed quicker than I could imagine. Currently, I am doing the 3rd year of my degree, the International Placement Year. I am living in China, in Xi'an, the ancient capital of the country, teaching English to University students. In the next part of my year, I will move to Peru and Argentina to practise my Spanish. Two years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I think this would be possible.
Living in China is unique and completely different from what I could even imagine. The culture shock is real. However, having explored the Chinese lifestyle and the language at university for the past two years helped me prepare for what I was going to encounter. I arrived in Xi'an with some basics of Chinese, but the first days were difficult, which is an understatement anyway. The first days in China taught me not only patience but also humility. The first days' daily life struggles like ordering food, exchanging cash, opening a bank account, configuring WeChat (the most important app that is widely used for all payments and many other things facilitating life) were incredibly stressful and time-consuming. Although, as soon as I had managed all hardships, I started to get used to Chinese habits and everything became so much easier. As the Chinese idiom goes 'ru xiang sui su' <<入乡随俗>>- 'When in Rome, do as the Romans'.
I think I had not realised how gorgeous and beautiful China is, how many magnificent places there are around and how much hidden history there is to learn. Every single day is a different lesson, a new experience, and a new challenge. Huashan Mountains, the Buddha temple in Tianshui, Zhangjiajie, where Avatar was filmed, and Beijing, the capital, are the places I have visited so far. I can't even express how grateful I am to be over here. I’m just two months into my internship, but I can already feel how beneficial the experience is for me. Working with Chinese students and being able to see their perspective, as well as getting to know the country's culture from the inside out is something I wouldn't be able to experience anywhere else.
And that's only the first part of my International Placement Year! Lancaster University and especially DeLC offered great help with my internship in Xi'an. I was supported through the whole process of organising the placement. I genuinely felt like I wasn't alone because of DeLC’s companionship so I will always appreciate the support. I truly feel the Department and the tutors took care of me individually.
Wiktoria has been blogging about her experience (in Polish) - take a look at her blog and all the stunning pictures she's been taking!