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Halfway mark at The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China

I am currently sitting at the halfway point here on my semester at Nottingham University in Ningbo, China. From the moment stepping off the plane in Shanghai on the 7th of February 2017 till now, its been such a jam packed and amazing experience.

Before coming to China, I was unsure and quite unaware of what I was going to face as I had never visited China before nor been exposed to much of the Chinese culture. Reasons for me coming to China included thinking it would be a challenge, something different and given it is a significant trading partner going forward for Australia. All of these reasons though, whether they were right or not I am so thankful for, as they have given me this experience so far.

The past 8 weeks have been filled with meeting people from all over the globe, eating heaps of Chinese food, travelling and experiencing parts of China, as well as studying. There are over 200 international students at the University. They all come from countries such as Russia, Germany, Canada, Korea, Kazakstan, USA, UK etc. This is something which I did not expect. Not only that but its been great to meet so many local Chinese students who have been so friendly and generous, allowing me to better understand their culture.

On my first weekend I received an offer to go on a camping trip to Donquian Lake in Ningbo, with my class which consisted of mainly local Chinese students. This was a really interesting experience as I got to appreciate what it felt like to be the only westerner in a Chinese environment and was taken back by how hospitable and accommodating they all were to me.

The other weekend trips and experiences I have had so far include trips to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Yellow mountains, Hot springs in the mountains and exploring parts of Ningbo. Throughout the week though there have been many events and things to do, and so much good food to eat. I have also been introduced to this thing called KTV.

KTV is nuts here, the locals absolutely love it. It is basically a small room jammed packed with people singing karaoke and really is a full night out. At first I was quite reserved from this idea as usually I’m not into karaoke, but for some reason this KTV really is quite addictive and everyone seems to get really into it. Ive been 4 times already and I’m sure will be many more times ahead.

I have had such a blast so far on this exchange and have loved every moment of it. There have been challenges though such as I don’t speak Chinese, which makes it quite interesting trying to buy things or travel to places. Also the lack of internet access and cold weather, can also sometimes get to me, but all in all this experience has been amazing and something i know will learn a lot from. I cant wait for the second half of this China experience!

Thomas O’Brien
Bachelor of Design in Integrated Product Design
University of Nottingham Ningbo, China

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