When given the prospect of potentially being able to study abroad, I initially was interested in a non-committal way. It was something I could do but believed in the back of my head it would never truly occur. So I kept submitting papers just to see how far I would get before I chickened out; I made it one year out with my first submission of documents, 6 months out with nominations for universities, 3 months out and receiving admission notices, 1 month out and looking at various flights and then finally I was 1 week away and the reality hit. It wasn’t someone else going on to live abroad, it was me and it was very soon.
Despite the sheer daunting nature of exchange, I knew I wanted to go to China. I had been learning Mandarin for a year at university and wanted to be able to understand and experience a country which not many people know about.
And so off I went.
And here I am, finally.
The easiest part of my experience so far is academic life, believe it or not. The classes I take are through Lingnan college, a prestigious and exclusive college in Sun Yat-sen University. The facilities here are great; projectors in every room, air conditioning for the humid September summer and plenty of space for class wide discussions. The teaching style here is similar to UTS, although they do not have separate lecture/tutorial classes. I’m studying similar content to what I was back home with classes such as Global Business Management, Consumer Behavior and Business Logistics Management. All classes are taught in a lecture style (though of smaller class size) along with seminar style class discussions and interactions. Despite the classes I take being in English, majority of them are filled with local students and only a small number of those on exchange. This is really a great chance to mingle and get to know local students who can help you if ever you’re confused or need help.
Orientation was a bit messy, however, the local students helped immensely through the universities ‘buddy program’. I play a lot of sports and so joining some teams was a big goal of mine and so far, I’ve officially joined the volleyball team and play casually with the basketball teams. Off campus, you are right next to the Pearl River, a beautiful area to enjoy biking along at night. There is a major textile market near the South Gate, the Canton Tower is in walking distance and always present amongst the city’s skyline as well as plenty of restaurants and shops that is easily accessible.
I live on campus in the international student dormitory; however, all the other exchange students live off campus in apartments they’ve rented themselves. This had something to do with whether their universities had specific partnerships with either SYSU or Lingnan College (UTS is partnered with SYSU). There are many campus canteens that are insanely cheap and with a great variety of delicious food, though you will need to use your campus card and figuring out that can be quite annoying. Nevertheless, the campus is insanely beautiful and walking/biking around is a great way to relax. There are supermarkets and bakeries in most places, so everything is so convenient.
Some hot tips!
- Bring an umbrella everywhere you go for both the sun and sudden heavy rainfall
- Know that you need WeChat and Alipay because these two apps will be your best friends
- Food delivery, taxi services and online shopping is a paradise here (Taobao has anything you ever need and 饿了么 is a food delivery app that once you start using it’s almost impossible to stop)
- Try and make friends with local students and don’t just hang out with your exchange friends
- Please, please, please, learn some Chinese before getting here, the Chinese mean well but do not know any English, even in tourist areas (which means it’s good for learning and practicing your mandarin!)
- Keep an open mind and find cultural differences humorous, if you come with negative images and attitudes towards China and Chinese people, you will not enjoy yourself, the people are lovely, the lifestyle is amazing, and the food is so good
If you have any questions on going on exchange at SYSU, China or just in general, please don’t hesitate to send me an email and I will happily share whatever knowledge and experienced I’ve gain from this amazing opportunity.
If you’re considering going on exchange, I highly suggest taking the time to consider places like China, everything is cheap, everything is convenient, everything is fun, and you will learn so much.
Bachelor of Global Studies
Sun Yat-Sen University
Australian Government New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient.
For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au