Nguyen - SWUFE Global Academy

B Arts/International Hotel & Tourism Management
July 2019

My experience

I was very lucky to have come across the post on the SWUFE Global Academy on UQSEC Facebook page just a few days before the deadline. I have always been very interested in Chinese culture and economy, and the theme "Dialogue on Chinese and Foreign Enterprises Management" of 2019 was a perfect match, so I jumped right at the opportunity. The program was a mix of lectures, company visits, and cultural immersive activities such as Chinese language class or cooking workshop, which were super fun and eye-opening with lots of new insights into the culture, the people and the current economic trends of China.

How has the experience changed you?

I find the SWUFE Global Academy such a transformative experience. I learned so much more about Chinese culture and economy, from a completely different perspective to what I expected. The locals, including SWUFE students, lecturers and even strangers on the street, are valuable sources of interesting insights into how things work in China and how the Chinese people view its interactions with the rest of the world.

I also met and made friends with so many other students from all over the world. We spent 2 weeks together experiencing a new culture, new food and finding our way around the city everyday, through which we built up great bonds and friendships

The experience also helped me grow as an independent person. I learned so many things while I was in Chengdu: how to navigate the metro system myself, how to start the conversations with complete strangers or how to make myself understood beyond language barriers, which really forced me out of my comfort zone and to become more independent and self-assured

Favourite memory

It is really hard to pick out one favorite from the many things I experienced and enjoyed in Chengdu, like the cooking class, museum trips or the SWUFE ceremonies. But if I really have to pick one, it must be the night market that we keep going to every single night in Wenjiang. It had tons of things to try: alleys full of local restaurants and food vendors, stores of all kinds: stationery, grocery, pet stores, beauty and makeup, etc. and street performers and so on. 

My favorite thing to do there was to try all the street food vendors, which offered a variety of local food, such as fried noodles, cheese sticks, BBQ skewers and fruit bowls. The street food could be intimidating at first, especially for the local peculiar spiciness, but definitely give it a try. Then after dinner, a karaoke session, for which you get your own karaoke room, local drinks and snacks and sing the night away, will be the perfect end to the day.

Top tips

- Spare enough time to sort out your visa and other travel paperwork. Some students from other countries missed out on the program due to visa issues.
- Prepare enough cash. Unless you have a Chinese bank account and link it to Wechat, every transaction is going to be cash-based. There were a lot of people who had troubles finding ATMs that accepted foreign cards and it might incur extra costs. I will say for a 2 week stay about 2000 - 3000 CNY will be good (as they already cover accommodation, canteen food and provide a metro card)
- Buy VPN before you come to China. It's not only for getting connected to social media, but also for using survival apps like Google Map or Translation
- Bring some personal medicine, especially some for your stomach as the new kind of food you experience could be a bit unsettling for your stomach (and again you will be eating a lot of spicy food, and street food)
- Make sure you got enough luggage room beforehand, as you might end up buying too many things in Chengdu and exceed the baggage limit (like I did).
- Go around the city and get to see and learn as much as you could. 2 weeks will go by a lot quicker than you think and you will want to make the most out of it. Making friends with your local volunteers is the best way to learn about the culture here.