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Augustine Onafeko

BEng Mechanical Engineering

Augustine Onafeko

Studied in Beijing, China

I studied abroad for three weeks in Beijing as part of the Study China Easter programme. It was easily one of the best decisions I have made, the trip gave me memories that I will hold for the rest of my life!

My study abroad experience

From day one we threw ourselves into the chaotic rush of Beijing, travelling to the famous Wangfujing street market (getting lost several times on the way). The cuisine was an experiment but an enjoyable one, consisting of the favoured dumplings as well as the more ambitious Donkey Burger and Jellyfish.

Within three weeks we experienced elements of the Chinese culture which ranged from an amazing, Chinese acrobatics show to a trip to the great wall - my personal highlight. As well as several networking opportunities and classes such tai-chi, calligraphy and Chinese painting. These all served the purpose of building our impression of China and also helped us build contacts for a possible return trip (which I definitely will!).

One of my key experiences was the excitement our daily journeys, they would normally consist of practicing language skills with locals and joining in on street games and dance sessions whenever possible!

For me, one of beneficial aspects of studying abroad is the other students that accompany you. The environment we were all thrown into was very hectic and fast paced, with opportunities for new experiences everywhere. During my time in Beijing I was challenged by people around me and myself, to take part in any of these opportunities which led to several street dance sessions, including one on a train!

One of the most interesting elements of the programme was the host family visit. Where we spent the day with a Chinese family, getting the chance to prepare and share a meal with our hosts and gain an insight into life in a Chinese household. This was one of the unique experiences that studying abroad allowed me to have. There are a lot of assumptions made about Chinese society and these aspects of the programme were very good in giving me a well-rounded view of life in China.

What I gained from the experience

The environment threw me far out of my comfort zone, and from it I feel like I identified how I want to travel in the future. Beyond this, I feel as though I have become more able to take opportunities of all kinds that I come across, which has been beneficial for me several times since my return.

Being based at a large University I had a lot of exposure to Chinese students, I really wanted to spend time with locals rather than exclusively with people from our programme. Doing this led to me becoming very able to integrate quickly into new groups even with the presence of a very large language barrier, the experience humbled me by letting me realise how much I took for granted being able to effortlessly communicate with those around me in my normal day-to-day life.

Struggling to order food and ask for directions on a day to day basis was occasionally frustrating but I found that it developed my patience and adaptability.

Why you should consider studying abroad

China was a challenge, ordering food was rarely straightforward, getting lost was a frequent event and adapting to the hectic pace of Beijing took some time.

Despite this, I would highly recommend studying abroad, it gives you exposure to a new culture in a way that you would not experience on a regular journey. The interactions you have and the language skills you can build will also be an asset in your future career in a world where having an international mind-set is becoming more and more valuable.