Samuel WEJCHERT FS2017-18, The University of Oxford | to China
My year abroad in Beijing was both an exciting and rewarding learning experience. During the second year of my Oxford University undergraduate course, I had the opportunity to study at Peking University for an entire academic year. This long stretch of time, coupled with the generous financial help from the Victor and William Fung Foundation, allowed me to take part in a variety of activities. Here are a few of the most memorable:
The language partner arrangement allowed me to quickly develop a close relationship with one of the local Chinese students. I have fond memories of our many weekend outings, including watching an opera at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, visiting the Rate Gate Gallery and exploring the countless rooftop bars in the Sanlitun nightlife district! A trip to my language partner’s home in Hunan during the Chinese New Year was particularly memorable as it opened my eyes to life outside China’s big, cosmopolitan cities.
Acting as class representative for my Oxford classmates provided me with many opportunities to develop my leadership skills. Apart from delivering the opening speech in Chinese for the launch of our year abroad programme, I had the responsibility of liaising with teachers on behalf of my classmates if they had any issues or complaints. I also compiled a year abroad handbook for future Oxford students before our programme ended; this task made me realise how familiar I had become with living in China after just a year.
Throughout the year abroad, I completed an internship at the Beijing International Society, a non-profit organization that organizes two to three lectures per month at various embassies across Beijing. This work gave me unique access to prominent China-related scholars and Beijing-based diplomats. My top highlights include attending a formal dinner with the American ambassador, as well as organizing a one-to-one afternoon chat with the Irish ambassador to better understand the world of diplomacy.
The Fung Scholarship played an important role during my year abroad. Indeed, it helped me make the best of my time in China. Instead of worrying about financing my interests, I could focus more on enjoying the activities I took part in. I feel extremely grateful towards the Victor and William Fung Foundation for giving me the opportunity to experience different cultures and environments early in my student career. In the future, I hope to fulfil the foundation’s aim of nurturing world leaders by better connecting China with the rest of the world—in whatever field that may be.
Samuel and his language partner