Andrea AUERBACH FS2018-19, The University of Oxford | from UK to China
When asked to summarize how I have benefitted from my experiences in Beijing, I am faced with an incredibly challenging task. I have gained confidence in a language that I hope to pursue throughout my life both in a social and professional context. I have acquired a sense of resilience and adaptability that will equip me with the tools I may need to live and work anywhere in the future. I see a direction for my future career with much more clarity than I once did.
I have seen a blistering winter, a vibrant spring, a scorching summer and a golden fall. The list goes on. My Mandarin has improved dramatically over the past year, something that I truly believe I would not have achieved without this fully immersive experience. There were moments of sheer embarrassment when unable to decipher a local taxi driver’s speech, and deep satisfaction when able to converse with a kind waitress. These conflicting moments which occurred throughout the entire year taught me the perseverance and commitment required to master a foreign language. I had read stories of China’s difficult history in the context of its more recent economic resurgence, but had yet to witness, with my own eyes, the ways in which China is a visionary and a pioneer on a global scale. One of my favourite moments from the year was when a chatty taxi driver said to me “Are you Western? Wow, the West is so amazing, and so smart, I truly hope to go there one day”, and I replied, “You may not know this, but your country is leaps and bounds ahead of the West, just remember that”.
After this year, it is clear to me that I would like to work alongside and be witness to China’s brilliant minds as the nation leads the West and the rest of the world into the fourth industrial revolution. In my travels around the mainland, I came to appreciate the beauty of accessibility in China. In the most rural districts of Guangxi province, locals have access to efficient electricity, lighting, television; they regularly use mobile phones and mobile data and they have access to food in abundance. China’s efficiency and economic prosperity appear to have extended to every corner of the nation in a way that I have not seen in any other country. This is an inspiring marker of the quality of life that many Chinese are now able to live, after the struggles of their elder generations.
I feel truly inspired intellectually, linguistically and artistically, and feel that I am overflowing with entrepreneurial fervour after my year in China. I would like to thank the Victor and William Fung Foundation for granting me these invaluable opportunities that I know will pervade through every aspect of my future.