My time at Harbin has been one of the most enjoyable years of my life – not only have I learnt so much about the language and culture of China, but also met some incredible people and travelled to fantastic places.
Particular travel highlights for me must be travelling around northern China with fellow GenUK scholars back in October, celebrating Chinese New Year with family in Hong Kong, and going to Tianjin with my almost-adopted Chinese family. Study-wise, I’ve emerged victorious from the seemingly endless struggle of Physical Chemistry, passed Chinese with flying colours, and sat the HSK 4 exam. Yes, there have been moments when I’ve felt down, missed home or battled against Chinese bureaucracy, but overall I think my year abroad has been a very positive experience.
I also feel I’ve developed a lot as a person, becoming more independent, confident and adaptable. At the start of the year I was nervous about just taking a train alone, I struggled with the inflexibility of the university system here and having a roommate just did my head in. But by the end, I’ve been travelling both with new friends and alone, persevered against all the paperwork/ timetabling/ visa issues and made new friends in my fellow students – many of whom come from very different cultures and backgrounds to myself.
It will be sad to say goodbye to this cold, grey city in the frozen north of China, but most of all I will miss all my classmates, roommates, fellow GenUK scholars, teachers, and friends.