Tiananmen Square

Two Edge Hill students have expanded their horizons – and their CVs – thanks to a once-in-a-lifetime trip to China, funded by the University’s Student Opportunity Fund.

Launched last year, the Student Opportunity Fund (SOF) enables students to take advantage of career enhancing and life changing opportunities through a grant of up to £2,000. This can help towards the cost of activities designed to prepare them for the future and enhance their employability skills.

After successfully applying for SOF funding, first year trainee teacher Charlotte Cropper and Business student James McGarrie, who is in his final year, spent three weeks immersing themselves in Chinese culture and gaining vital employability skills as part of the Study China programme, run by the University of Manchester and funded by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

They had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with a Chinese family

The pair joined students at Beijing Normal University to study an intensive Chinese Mandarin course, while enjoying the local culture. As well as excursions to world-famous attractions, including the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square and the Bird’s Nest Stadium, the iconic centrepiece of the 2008 Olympics, the students were welcomed into a Chinese family’s home to experience Chinese life and traditions. They also tried their hand at Thai Chi, Chinese calligraphy and karaoke during the action-packed trip.

James said:

“I had a fantastic time studying in China. How many of your friends can say they have walked the Great Wall of China or had Peking Duck cooked by acclaimed Chinese chefs?

“I feel very fortunate to have been able to utilise the Student Opportunity Fund which covered the entirety of my expenses including flights, visa, insurance and spends.”

They booked a private cooking class with a 5* chef and were shown how to fold dumplings, cut shiitake mushrooms and make dishes such as sweet and sour chicken

As well as boosting their personal development, both James and Charlotte feel the trip has enhanced their skills and made them more attractive to future employers.

“Being involved in Study China has given me a unique life experience that will enrich me as a teacher and help me stand out from other candidates when I am interviewed for a job,” said Charlotte. “Good teaching positions are competitive and this could put me in a really strong position for entering my career.”

James added:

“As a business undergraduate, having experience of Mandarin is an exceptional advantage. Already this is proving a great conversation starter and a good CV enhancer. I have been offered graduate interviews with the intention of starting full-time employment as soon as I finish my last module, and I believe studying in China has helped.”

Find out more about the SOF here.