From taking part in tea ceremonies to getting up close with pandas, nine Edge Hill students had the opportunity to broaden their horizons and practice their Mandarin on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to China – made possible by the new Student Opportunity Fund.

The trip to Chongqing, organised by the University’s Confucius Institute, gave students the chance to immerse themselves in Chinese culture while taking classes alongside Chinese students at Chongqing Normal University. As well as Mandarin sessions to improve their language skills, the students visited local schools to observe lessons and help the children practise their English. The trip also gave students the opportunity to experience traditional cultural activities, including tea ceremonies, painting and calligraphy, martial arts and folk dancing, and enjoy local attractions such as the Chongqing Zoo, the ancient town of Ci Qi Kou and the Dazu rock carvings, a World Heritage Site.

2nd year Television Production Management student, Hana Diaa, who took part in the trip, said:

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Chongqing and it is an experience I will never forget. I was quite worried about being in a different country by myself but the students we met were so kind and welcoming. I have made lifetime friends in China that I will always stay in contact with no matter what.”

The 12-day trip in June was part-funded by the newly-launched Student Opportunity Fund, which provides financial support to enable students to access career-enhancing projects or activities.

Shaun Watson, a 2nd year studying Computing (Games Programming), believes the trip has definitely improved his employability:

“I think the trip is a great stamp on your CV as it shows commitment and responsibility. Chinese being the first language of most people we spoke to, there’s experience with dealing with language barriers and other communication skills that I think would be attractive to international businesses.”

Elaine Jones, Confucius Institute Manager, helped to organise the trip. She said:

“This trip provided unique experiences for students to engage and understand Chinese traditions and culture and have contributed to their personal and social development.”

Dr Lei Yong, Director of the Office of International Education, Chongqing Normal University, added:

“It was a really successful trip. The students from Edge Hill University demonstrated their passion for Chinese language and culture. As ambassadors of EHU, I believe their visit definitely deepened the friendship between two universities.”