My fascination with China began when I was fortunate to win a local competition in my hometown of Wagga Wagga to be an ambassador of the city for one year. During this time, I travelled to China for the first time as part of a local government delegation. The two weeks I spent travelling around this vibrant and culturally rich country was such an eye opening experience that when I was presented with the opportunity to visit again as part of a CSU Global Short Term International Program, I couldn’t pack my suitcase fast enough! Both of these experiences enabled me to gain an understanding and appreciation for Chinese culture and the Chinese way of life, however the most authentic Chinese experience that I have gained has been during my time a an international exchange student.
From September 2015 through to January 2016 I took part in an international student exchange program at Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics (JUFE) and the knowledge, experience, friendships and attributes I gained during this time were so valuable that I decided to extend my exchanged for a second semester. This came as quiet a surprise to my friends and family who frequently asked the question “China? Again? Why?”
One of the many benefits in taking part in a CSU Global program as a Distance Education student is that it allows you to fast track your degree by either direct subject credits or completion of elective subjects at a full-time study rate. As I have been fortunate to participate in two such programs, my graduation date has been brought forward by two years which has started the process of researching graduate jobs that I would like to apply for upon completion of my degree. One such graduate program that I am extremely interested in is the National Australia Bank Financial Planning Graduate Program and as part of this program, proficiency in an Asian language is highly desirable. Upon realising this, I decided that I would need to increase my skills in Mandarin and what better place to do this than in the country where it is the mother language and I can read, hear and speak this language on a daily basis.
I remember when I first arrived in Nanchang at the beginning of my first semester of exchange I struggled with the language barrier, the very different food available and being so far away from my family, friends and familiar surroundings, however, arriving for my second semester was rather contrast to my first experience. Arriving at the international students residence at JUFE was like coming home after a long vacation, seeing all of the wonderful friends I met last semester was like being reunited with family and the language, food and surroundings were less daunting and I felt as though I have made the city of Nanchang my second home.
While returning to JUFE brings familiarity, it also provides a similar level of excitement equal to my first arrival through a new intake of exchange students, giving me the opportunity to extend my China family (pictured above) by meeting new people and making new friends. This semester I am joined by new students from Brazil, USA, Peru, Mexico, Germany, Czech Republic, Finland and the Netherlands.
We all had a wonderful time getting to know one another during the first few days and it was refreshing to see my new friends settle into life in China by exploring the city and being adventurous with the local cuisine. It was also wonderful to be able to offer a helping hand and some advice to make this transition a little more comfortable for all.
After our first week at JUFE we are all beginning to settle in and I look forward to the many adventures that we will have and the memories we will create together.