It started off as a regular day, just checking my emails, when I opened one about a study tour to China; two and a half weeks of studying in Beijing, Tianjin and Hong Kong. It sounded amazing, so I instantly registered my interest. Two months and a $2000 Flinders scholarship later, I was on my way to China with 18 other students who I was meeting for the first time. I had the time of my life over the next two weeks. The tour allowed me to immerse myself in Chinese culture, start learning a language, and begin a professional network overseas.
So if the opportunity comes up for a study tour overseas, should you go? Here are some of my highlights:
Getting out of your comfort zone and travelling overseas is great for broadening your life experiences and knowledge of other cultures. This is beneficial no matter your future study or career area.
China’s already large economy continues to grow, and Australia is in a prime location to leverage this economic growth, so it’s likely I’ll be working with people and companies from a Chinese background throughout my career. When I do, I want to have an understanding of their culture and customs. For example, did you know it’s rude to give a Chinese person a clock as a gift; it represents their ‘time running out’. I also learnt a lot about how the Chinese government system works and commonly used Chinese business models. But of most interest to me, I saw how young people in China communicate. I knew that services like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Google were limited to the local population, but I had no idea what they used instead. They use tools like “Wechat” (the Chinese Facebook), and “Baidu” (the Chinese Google). This is essential to understanding how businesses and people connect.
Since returning from the study tour, I have already seen the benefits. The trip provided me with invaluable skills and experience for my future career where I can begin future relationships with my Chinese counterparts with an understanding of the culture that they’ve come from, and a common ground. This has expanded my professional network greatly and would never have happened if Flinders did not offer me this opportunity.