This week’s guest blog comes from Tariq Ashraf, a third year Chemical Engineering Student and one of our Career Ambassadors, who is sharing his experience of visiting China in summer last year…
This past summer, I had the opportunity to visit China for 3 weeks on the Nanjing International Youth Exchange Programme. It is no exaggeration to say this trip is one that I will surely remember for a long time!
Around the beginning of 2018, I received an email from the University in regards to an opportunity to complete an internship in Nanjing. The email mentioned that this programme, organised by the Nanjing Foreign Affairs Office, would allow students from various fields such as engineering, business and finance to visit Nanjing and intern at local companies within the Jiangsu province whilst engaging in cultural exchange activities.
I decided to go ahead with application and completed my application form. Whilst waiting for a response, I also applied for the short-term travel award available to students at University of Bradford which I was told about by the International Opportunities’ Coordinator, Carlos Santos e Sousa. After a two-month wait, I received an email telling me that I have been accepted onto the programme and that I should begin making arrangements. With the help of Carlos and Professor Alistair Wood, who has a strong involvement with China, we were able to meet the other students who had been accepted onto the same programme from University of Bradford. Together we made plans for our journey and arranged for our visas to be sorted. The visa cost £175(!) but…. all expenses other than the flight cost and visa cost was paid for by the Nanjing Foreign Affairs Office so I couldn’t really complain!
On the 4th July, Mohammed, Ayesha and Karolina (the others from University of Bradford participating on the programme) and I took a flight from Manchester to Nanjing with a stopover in Hong Kong. The total journey time was around 18 hours!
Upon arrival at Nanjing Lukou International Airport, we were greeted by a few of the Chinese students from Nanjing University who were also taking part on the programme. We then took a one-hour coach ride to arrive at our hotel which we would be staying at.
In total there were around 70 students, 30 Chinese students and 40 foreign students, participating on the programme. There were people from all over the globe from places such as Europe, America, Australia, Malaysia and Canada! It was an amazing experience to meet so many people from different backgrounds!
We spent our weekdays with the companies that we were assigned to. I completed my internship at Arc International, a French glass manufacturing company which specialises in producing glassware and dinnerware sets. It was really interesting seeing the production process of how glass is produced from its raw material. I also got to learn more about the company and how different departments work closely with each other in order to keep the business running. I even had the opportunity to deliver a presentation to department heads on practical solutions to increase sales of their ‘Opal’ product range. At the end of the internship we were given certificates and gifted dinnerware sets. Other well-known internship companies participating on the programme were Samsung and Fujitsu.
Outside of work we visited many places of interest in the Nanjing area. I have listed some of the places we had the chance of visiting below:
- Purple Mountain
- Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s Masoleum
- Tomb Relics of Ming Dynasty
- Nanjing City Wall
- Nanjing Museum
- Gan’s Residence
- Nanjing University
- Confucius Temple
- Yangtze River Boat Cruise
- Nanjing Smart City Centre
- Nanjing Youth Olympic Museum
- Memorial Nanjing Massacre
Learning about the history of the area and meeting locals was an amazing experience! I got to try lots of different types of food and had the chance do some shopping in the free time we had. I even had the chance to visit a Chinese cinema and watch a full Chinese movie (with English subtitles).
We ended our time in Nanjing with a bonfire party and a BBQ. A closing ceremony with local government officials at the famous Jinling Hotel was also held to conclude the programme and wish all the participants goodbye.
Any students who have an interest in China, I would highly recommend applying for the programme as it is an amazing experience to develop your skillset and for you to gain valuable international work experience. My top tips would be to apply early as possible and express your interest in China in your application as much as you can. Also, if you have any prior connection or links to China then make sure to mention it in your application.
Thanks Tariq! If you’re interested in the Nanjing International Youth Exchange Programme or any other international opportunities, come to an Opportunities Abroad drop-in session every weekday from 13.00-14.00 in Careers, Student Central.