Here is something I wrote on my Chinese social media back in 2014. I found it was very interesting to re-read two years later…

I haven’t written a diary post in ages and tomorrow is my favourite festival –The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. It’s been a month since I arrived in the UK and I want to write something to record my first impressions of the UK.

Actually, I didn’t have any intention of studying abroad at all in the first place, all I dreamed of was to pass the national postgraduate exams in China and be able to enter into a top university in Shanghai. Unfortunately, I failed that exam. Sometimes things seemed destined, and coincidences happen. I had a friend of a friend who also graduated from my University in Ningbo and was studying for a master’s degree in Hong Kong. She brought me something from Hong Kong that was much cheaper than in the mainland and I randomly asked her how she got the offer from the university in Hong Kong. She recommended an education agency to me which was located inside my campus.

With curiosity, I contacted that agency and briefly talked to them about my grades during my four years in university. Luckily, I hadn’t wasted my studying time in those four years and after checking my grades, the agency told me that according to my performance I was entitled to apply to the top 30 universities in the UK. With the help of their application assistant, I indeed received 5 offers from pretty prestigious universities around the UK.

I am a person who does not really enjoying going out with a group of people. Instead of going out with friends who I don’t particularly get on well with I would rather do things by myself. Considering this, I didn’t join any new student’s union or student groups. On 10th July 2014 I took the flight from Shanghai to London alone. It was the first time I had been abroad and landed in London with two suitcases weighing 50kgs.

Unexpectedly I didn’t experience any jet lag, wasn’t afraid of any language barriers, didn’t feel homesick, the only thing I was not used to was British food. I guessed my ability to adapt to foreign surroundings was really strong. Maybe I look girlish in my appearance but deep down my personality is very manly. On my first day in London I met up with my best friend Yangjing who had been studying there for a year already and she took care of me. She showed me around London and we met some very friendly local people and immediately I fell in love with that land. However, I study in Birmingham which is about a one-hour train journey to London. At that time, I wished my university was located in London. Luckily the UK is very small compared with China and the cities are all close to each other so a one-hour train trip was nothing for me.

London

A picture I took of Oxford Street on my first day in London

As for Birmingham, it is hard to judge if it’s good or not.  In the UK, every place feels rural and small apart from London. No wonder I always hear people saying “I’m so in love with London”.  At least as the second biggest city in the UK, Birmingham is quite big compared with York, Sheffield, Bristol etc.  Birmingham is a city with a convenient transport system and is a place filled with all kinds of shops and services. Much like in China during festival time when people from small towns go to the big cities to go shopping I think many Chinese from small towns around Birmingham come to Birmingham regularly to go shopping. But I am a person who thrives on excitement and living in modern cities.  For example, when I was in China I only liked cities such as Shanghai. You might say I am a shallow girl.  If I was given another chance I would chose London or New York to study without a doubt.

In terms of the University of Birmingham, I am satisfied that I have chance to do an Accounting and Finance masters degree as it is a very well-respected certificate for future job applications. But to put it frankly, these days more and more Chinese chose to study abroad and an overseas degree is not as highly regarded as before.  Lots of Chinese would even think only inadequate students study abroad because they are not competitive enough to enter good domestic universities. They could only choose spending huge amounts of money to get a ‘so-called’ good degree abroad.

But for me, I did very poorly in the national university entrance exam and the university I attended in Ningbo is not a well-respected university at all.  For all those years I always had inferiority complex – I really admired people who studied in prestigious universities, even if their students were not always as good as me in reality, I still looked up to them unconditionally. When I was in China, the people I admired the most were those who work in high-rise buildings in the Shanghai financial districts. I thought even the air they breathe out has a unique vibe compared to others.

The church next to the Bullring in the city center of Birmingham

The church next to the Bullring in the city center of Birmingham

Since I came to the UK, I found good looking guys are everywhere. The UK really lives up to its reputation in terms of the largest population of good looking guys.  For people like me, who are very fussed about appearance, I am totally addicted to appreciating pretty people every day. However, to maintain my ‘restrained’ good image, I don’t allow myself to go out of control, I always wait for others to chat me up. At the same time, I know my aim in the UK is to study. My studies are quite intensive with thousand word reports every three days, hundreds of words case studies to analyse every two days and presentations almost every day.

I am stuck inside doing university work and don’t really have time to think about other things. Sometimes, when I luckily have spare time I spend most of it in the kitchen. When I was in China I hardly knew how to cook but since I found this recipe app I feel up to cooking anything. I think after one year I could become an adequate cook. I am worried that if I become too perfect then no one would be able to marry me in the future (joke!).

As I sit here, typing on my keyboard, with the sun rays shining through the window, I guess that it is night time in China, just a few minutes before the start of the mid-Autumn festival. It is my favourite festival however I will be spending it doing university work as I have my final presentation tomorrow. All of a sudden, some words from the TV Programme ‘Skins’ come to my mind – ‘Life sucks, fuck it’. Well, life does not always happen as you expect, it is a wild world, you can either make the most of it, or waste it. What I want to do at the moment is make my youth time as valuable as I can.

After I graduate, if I have the chance, I would like to stay in the UK. I feel I have literally fallen in love with this country – “the empire on which the sun never sets”.

That’s all I want to say today, hope everyone has a happy mid-autumn festival.