Elissa Day, a first year Egyptology student, has recently returned from an exchange trip to Shanghai where she attended classes at East China Normal University. In this article, Elissa talks about her trip:
“In September 2016, I took up Chinese classes alongside my main subject, Egyptology. I’d always been interested in ‘different’ languages, but didn’t expect to have the chance so soon to put my Chinese skills into use.
“I applied to the Study China programme as, at just three weeks long, I believed that it would be the right length to have an immersion into Chinese culture, but wouldn’t be as binding as signing up for an entire semester or year. I was lucky enough to be offered a place, and just a few weeks later, travelled to Shanghai to attend classes at East China Normal University.
“The programme was open to all universities in England and Ireland, meaning that the cohort was incredibly diverse, in our backgrounds and the subjects we studied. I was placed in the Intermediate class, despite having only studied Chinese for six months, but I quickly adjusted to the Chinese style of teaching, which was a lot more similar to my own Chinese classes than I had anticipated.
“When I saw the Study China programme advertised, I was intrigued by the fact that it combined both study with travel. Indeed, in just three weeks, we visited many sights in Shanghai, as well as two other cities – Zhenjiang and Yangzhou. Additionally, on our free day, we chose to travel to Hangzhou, famous for its West Lake and stunning scenery – yet just an hour outside the buzzing metropolis of Shanghai.
“On top of our language classes, which took place most mornings, we had weekly culture classes – in Chinese opera, calligraphy and martial arts, which were all fantastic fun. We visited sights such as the Bund, the pedestrianised shopping street, Nanjing Road, and the Shanghai Museum. The city was incredibly accessible, with all signposts, and the wonderfully clean and navigable subway system, in both English and Chinese. This meant that we were able to use our free afternoons to visit clothing markets, the Shanghai Tower (the second tallest building in the world), and, if we were craving Western food, McDonald’s (they do a BigMac and chicken nugget combo meal which we all fell in love with)!
“Many students would be daunted by the idea of going to China for a whole year, or even a semester, and before I participated on the programme, I felt the same way. If anyone is considering studying abroad in China, or simply even wants to see what going to university is like in an entirely different country, with a chance to explore as well, I would thoroughly recommend applying for the summer or Easter Study China programme.”