18 Oct 2018
Chemical Engineering Student Returns from a Summer in China
Calum Blair is a typical Loughborough University student – he enjoys the wider experiences that university life has to offer. He uses his summers to engage in experiences that challenge him, which contribute to his personal and social development and broadens his knowledge and experience.
This past summer, Chemical Engineering student Calum, took part in the Study China programme.
Study China is a three-week programme, part funded by the UK Government Department of Education, where students learn about Chinese culture and undertake study in Mandarin to improve UK/China relations.
Calum was one of 12 students from Loughborough University who attended the Study China programme this year. No mean feat for any of our students as the project receives 1600 applications for the 300 places available.
Calum was grateful to receive further funding towards this opportunity from the School of Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering and also from the Billericay Education Trust.
As well as undertaking 40 hours of taught Mandarin sessions, students took part in workshops and participated in trips and excursions, including meeting, cooking and eating with Chinese families in their own homes.
Calum was based in Shanghai and visited interesting areas of this affluent city, but also took part in excursions including visits to; Suzhou – a small water town; Beijing, including Tiananmen Square where the June Fourth Incident took place; Xi’An, home of the Terracotta Warriors and; Hangzhou, one of China’s seven ancient capitals.
The project can certainly say that it met it’s aims with Calum in terms of engaging with UK students. Upon his return to the UK, Calum has decided to continue with his efforts in learning Mandarin – he has signed up to complete the HSK Chinese Proficiency Test, and next summer, Calum is applying to do a further programme aimed at students – working in industry in China for two months.
Calum stated that he would recommend the experience 100% to any student and bought this news item to us in an effort to highlight this programme to other students.
In his own words:
"StudyChina was an exceptional experience which allowed me to challenge myself in an unfamiliar environment. It made me appreciate both the difficulty in the language and the large cultural differences between China and the UK. I will value this experience as it has allowed me to understand a new culture, learn a new language and offer opportunities for my future career. It opened my eyes to what China has to offer, far exceeding my expectations, and I will definitely be returning. I fully recommend this programme to anyone."
On reflecting further upon his experience, Calum stated that some of the memories from the programme were:
- China was exceptionally cheap for food, clothes and beer
- He met a diverse range of individuals from the programme and in China
- The language was very challenging but was rewarding to speak to locals.
- The food was not what he expected although he was a fan of xiaolongbao dumplings, dumplings with broth in them which is a speciality in Shanghai.
Although adjusting to the different and sometime challenging parts of Chinese life had it’s share of difficulties, Calum shared that the people of China were really helpful, which came in useful when accessing the transport system!
Calum’s future plans, outside of furthering his understanding of China, its industry and the Mandarin language, where he is keen to promote the Study China programme to the wider student engineering body.
We wish Calum all the best with his future endeavours and we look forward to hearing about his further engagement with experiences in China!