By Charlotte Sexton
My experience in China was amazing! Before the Gala funding was awarded to me, I never imagined that I would have the chance to travel to China and experience its culture, heritage and history, particularly in Qufu and Beijing. My overriding memory, however, is seeing how different cultures define and promote their heritage. Being a mature student, the funding was particularly beneficial as I have a child and other commitments and would not have been able to afford the trip without the sponsorship.
One of the best things that I gained from this trip were the friendships I made, both with the Chinese students and with the Bath Spa students and staff who I travelled with. The picture above was taken at the top of Mount Taishan near Qufu and shows just some of the new friends I met. It was interesting to see the number of temples located on the mountain and I can definitely understand why it was granted UNESCO world heritage site in 2006. This particular trip was really enjoyable and I found it beneficial to compare how the UK treat places of outstanding beauty.
In Beijing I had the chance to embrace other cultures and try new food. One of the most exotic meals I tried were duck brains (see above image), which tastes really nice, like a liver pate. This dish was served to me when we went a famous duck resturant in Beijing; it was a unique experience, particularly as the waiting staff calved and served the meat directly at our table.
I found the organisation by the Chinese government both really strict and super organised. For example, in comparrison to the UK, travel in China is extremely well-organised. I found it strange being asked to produce my passport to get into museums and to board trains, but on reflection, I think this adds to the national security of the country. I have never travelled outside the European Union before but through my visit to a communist country, I now view the way we run our country differently.
Another amazing experience was learning to write in Chinese calligraphy; this was really good day and, as you can see in the picture, we had great fun. I think this was a valuable experience and it’s a both a skill and memory that will last forever.
Overall, I can not thank the university enough for selecting me to go on the programme and of course the Gala fund for giving me the money towards the trip, enabling my travel to China. I learnt so much about China’s heritage, culture, traditions and philosophy and loved the whole experience. If I had the chance to go again I would with out a shadow of a doubt! I hope to go again one day with my family to let them embrace what I have seen, done and enjoyed. I would highly recommend anyone thinking of going to China to just go and do it! It’s not what you imagine, it’s 100% more, even when considering some of the challenges we faced; these all just added to the experience. I would do it all again without a shadow of doubt! Thank You Bath Spa and the Gala fund.