Job can develop various skills in specific field and allows to constantly work on improvement and development of new skills. Chance to have a job whilst studying abroad can provide door-opening opportunities and income which could enable enhanced experience of study abroad.
I have managed to find job in my first week of arrival in China, partially this is because of supply and demand. As more and more Chinese student learn English, they need more native English speakers to heal them learn the language. I had a role of teacher assistant and was mainly testing speaking ability of school kids. This part time role allowed me to meet new people such as academics and gain useful contacts in China.
Money can be main incentive when looking for a job however, it is important to look at broader spectrum of opportunities to which this job can lead to e.g. business opportunities, learning opportunities, career opportunities, friendship etc. If you have spare time in between studies and travel then definitely look into job with opportunities.
Student exchange program is a great opportunity to gain new knowledge and find fresh hobbies which might help with time enjoyment whilst abroad. Learning styles can differ from what student is used to at home university, this can be challenging and be a new learning experience on its own. For example, lecturers might take a different perspective on same material and provide valuable insights which would differ from home university.
I found that the best way to learn about China was to speak to Chinese students myself during out of the class hours. This is because I have noticed that in class students are more closed in and are afraid of being ‘wrong’, whereas in their free time they were much more open and felt relaxed talking about China. This example shows that you need to adjust in order to get knowledge which you desire.
Being able to adapt and adjust to how knowledge is being distributed is the key for ease of access to learning when abroad. As long as you truly want to learn, no obstacle will stop you.
The best way to learn different culture is to go ahead and explore new surroundings. There is no need to go to TripAdvisor and search for most popular tourist spots as you can find a lot of interesting places just by walking around the town. You are more likely to experience something unexpected by random walking and have more unexpected, memorable experiences.
Myself and friends usually took a subway somewhere and upon our arrival at station we went were our eyes looked. Once we ended up in small Chinese market where they sold everything, from socks to phones, this was new experience as in Chinese markets you are expected to bargain which is unusual for westerners as we usual pay the price that is set by seller on price tag. This way I learned more about the way Chinese business culture functions.
My piece of advice would be to put any doubt or fear of unknown away, and say ‘yes’ to new opportunities in order to explore as much as you can because you never know what you will learn or what opportunities might come your way from explorations.
When studying abroad you will meet a lot of new people especially in early weeks of your arrival so use this opportunity to make friends. Life abroad might be difficult at the beginning, be it language or cultural barriers, by having friends who can help you in terms of finding solution or just go trough shared difficulties together.
Finding a local friend whilst abroad can prove to be very beneficial. Local friends can help you with range of things from basic everyday tasks that are foreign to you, to showing you interesting places around city that are not know to tourists. In my case, Chinese friends that I met in first couple of days within arrival to Beijing helped me to get student card, order a WiFi, get a sim card and many more little things which I would not be able to achieve due to a language barrier.
Be open when you arrive abroad and try to find common interests with others that way you will find people who share similar mentality as you which might hello in creation of friendship. Just to be clear, I am not saying that you have to make new friends, however it does make life in new environment noticeably easier and more enjoyable, in my personal experience.
The importance of being organised is invaluable, organisation helps with everyday tasks such as time keeping, planning, objective achieving and much more. When studying abroad it might seem at first that you have so much time and there is no need for time planning. As you move on you will find new hobbies, interest, activities which will take a big chunk of your time at which point you should start making timetable in order not to forget anything of important such as updating this blog on time.
Organisation also shows in daily life, for example your dormitory room. Being organised helps with keeping your room in good state, knowing where the needed stuff is, knowing on which day the fresh bed sheets are available etc. It is important to find a basic routine of things that have to be done as this will enforcement of self organisation.
As long as you keep an eye on calendar and have planned your day well, you will be able to easily organised life around you and not panic because you forgot something to do e.g. meeting, homework, buying groceries.
Diet is very important part of our daily life and it is important to have idea about what kind of food you can expect when abroad. China is famous for its Chinese cuisine and has variety of foods which offers a large selection for pickiest people. However, you might find that “chinese” in London is not the same as Chinese food in China. This is because food is westernized whereas original food often tastes very differently.
Personally for me it took a few weeks to sort out my food ration trough trials of variety of food including:Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Western etc. My experimenting concluded that Korean food was to my liking the most so I decided to stick to it. Certain things such as cereal were too hard to give up even though there is no fresh milk as such in China, I have managed to find yogurt which complemented cereal rather well.
I believe that this example with cereal sums up topic of diet and one word comes into mind- adaptation. You will need to constantly adapt to new foods especially if you travel around China you will notice how food differs in different provinces. Trying new food is existing and scary at the same time but you never know when you can discover new taste that you might fall in love with.
Choosing very first entry for this blog is a bit of challenge as Beijing feels so overwhelming. Communication differences and adaptation might take a lot of effort. Even though city hosted Olympics in 2008, you will not find too many signs in English which might created additional difficulty to get used, however from my experience even if you do not speak a single word of Mandarin you can live without any limitation in Beijing. Thanks to huge technological advancement that took over China, the smartphone is all you really need.
Chat with friends, transfer money, top up phone, buy train ticket, pay for rent…those are things which you can do in ONE application. Install it from the Appstore and every service you could possibly want is there, in fact paying with AliPay or Wechat is way more convenient than using cash, it provides faster payments and allows you to keep track for your spending.
You can use those apps also as dating application because they have ‘discover’ function for people looking to talk or meet someone new. Well lets say that you are talking to a newly met friend but the only language he/she is speaking is Mandarin, no worries there is built in translator in Wechat. The point that I am trying to get across is that no matter what is it you can do all your communicational needs via the app. I see this as they took a bunch of great apps such as WhatApp, PayPal, Uber, Tinder and combined them to create very powerful tool which opens huge variety of resources to newly arrived expat.
P.S. series in this blog will be short but informative and I hope they will help someone.
Here I will publish my experience in China and compare how culture & traditions compare between London and Beijing. I will also post things that I find new and interesting and hopefully this blog will be help someone to understand the cultural differences between two countries and create and idea of “real” China.
Don’t listen to what they say, go see. — Chinese Proverb.