By Thomas Fairbank
When people ask me ‘how was your time in china?’ I never really know where to start; it was a mixture of emotions and a different experience every day. From cooking dumplings and learning mandarin, to drinking beer on the Great Wall of China, I really can say my experience was once in a lifetime.
Doing a study abroad term is an amazing opportunity. I really am surprised more people don’t do it, but I appreciate why that is; there’s so much to think about and the worry of missing home for four months does take people over.
I was the first Sussex student to go to CUHK Shenzhen and the only British person on campus for pretty much those four months (apart from when my dad and sister visited me). How I managed it I have no idea, and for the first couple days I didn’t think I would be able to. I’m a very open and curious person; I love travelling and I’ve been away from home for long periods of time before, but even this was a test of my character.
Nothing can prepare you for the realisation that your life is going to be completely different for four months. This isn’t necessarily a good or a bad thing, but something that many people are not ready for. Meeting new people, eating new food, basically living a whole different lifestyle while you’re there. It’s a scary but very exciting prospect.
My time in China did have its ups and downs, as life always does, but I can assure you there are so many more ups than downs. There really is so much to do out there. If it’s not shopping in Shenzhen’s world famous fake markets, it’s going up the fourth tallest building in the world, or going to a late-night karaoke bar (something I would highly recommend). Both on and off campus I found that I always had something fun to do, although this was always after my work commitments.
I was given the chance to go away and travel through China and I took that opportunity by the horns and went as far as I could; Shanghai, Xi’an & Beijing! That three-week period really topped off my time there. However, it was not always fun & games (warning, here comes the boring part).
It would be wrong not to mention the most important thing about studying in China, and that is the studying. There is no doubt that CUHK value their academics, and that is very clear from the get go. For me, because of the courses I chose, I found myself in the library most days. It was boring, but at the end of the day, I went there to learn. The academics should be first priority when doing study abroad, and the fun you have when you’re away should be seen as a bonus… but I can confirm there were a lot of bonuses!