- Course: BA Chinese (Modern)
I’m from London, and before coming to university I was a Classical Civilisations and English nut. A love of translation and some time during my gap year spent in China convinced me to apply for a place on the Chinese degree instead.
I decided to apply to study Chinese because of really good experiences abroad in China in the past - once on an exchange trip with the British Council, and then a year later during my gap year as part of a teacher exchange. Leeds seemed to have the course best equipped to teach using modern facilities and techniques, as well as letting me explore some of the older literature too. Coming from a Classics and English background, I was always literature-focused - what I discovered when studying Spanish was that the part of studying a language that I really enjoyed was translating into English. Chinese regularly presents interesting challenges on the translation front, and keeps you on your toes.
When I was at Leeds I was the President of the East Asian Cinema Society, a small but enthusiastic group
interested in showcasing what the region has to offer in terms of film. I first joined the society in my first year, not really knowing much about films from China, Korea or Japan besides a few mainstream hits and ended up finding a real treasure trove of good movies.
I spent my year abroad in Beijing, China. I studied at Capital Normal University, on the city’s third ring road. Studying abroad is a real opportunity to expand horizons. Just picking up a new hobby can mean a new social group comes with it, filled with chances to practice your language and possibly pick up useful networking contacts should you wish to return after graduation. I found studying abroad really formed the core of my degree experience - I spent the first year studying in preparation, and the final two years preparing to return! I did a little travelling whilst in Beijing, mostly to see friends and show visiting relative the tourist trail. I would advise all study abroad students to make the most of all opportunities - in your studies, in your social life, and in terms of work. Find Chinese friends who don’t speak English, and find English-speaking friends who don’t speak Chinese. As well as giving you windows into how various people in the city really live, both will give you opportunities to practice your language!
Coming back to Leeds after my year abroad felt like being a fresher all over again! After only one year away I was surprised for how nostalgic it was to return. As for help with transitioning back to university life, I felt that since the course was designed that way, and all my peers were going through the same thing, I had support from all sides.
Since graduating in the summer I have plans to move to Beijing for a few job interviews, mostly in translation. I took a Chinese translation training course in London over the summer (taught by a Leeds graduate!), and
hope to transfer the skills I picked up over the last four years into a job in the field.