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November 24, 2020

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Finding a university to fit your best interests

I’m originally from Montreal and moved to Shanghai when I was little. I studied at Chinese local schools until I transferred to Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong in Year 10. It was a big challenge for me to adapt to such a different environment at first, learning everything in English and making friends from all around the world.

Luckily, people at Dulwich were very welcoming and embracing. The EAL program, dedicated to students like me, was really helpful and made the transition a lot smoother.

I didn’t consider applying to Chinese universities until the summer before Year 13. I was aiming for universities in the UK and Canada at first, but when I visited the UK I didn’t get a sense of belonging there.

The cities were great, but it got me thinking: “Is this the place where I want to spend my uni life and get my first job?” That’s when I realized how much I love Shanghai and how much I want to pursue a future in China. So, I started my university research on Chinese universities and narrowed my targets down to three Chinese universities — Tsinghua, Peking and Fudan.

I chose Tsinghua as my “best fit” mostly because of its great curriculum system. Different from the other two, you only need to choose your department of study for freshman year and decide your major during your sophomore year. It’s great for students who aren’t 100 percent sure about what major they want to study. I have taken classes in both Chinese and English and there are also full-English courses for students who aren’t very fluent in Chinese. Each year, there are about 3,000 local and 300 international freshmen. Quite a large number of international students have a similar background of studying in an international school. The location is great too, Beijing being the capital of China is super convenient, modern and diverse. I would strongly recommend it to students.

I was worried about keeping up my Mandarin ability in Dulwich before attending. The worry soon disappeared. There are classes designed for students with different Mandarin levels. I was in the first-language class, where the level of difficulty was close to what I was learning in my local school. The Chinese literature class, which I took in International General Certificate of Secondary Education, allowed me to study a lot of classic Chinese books.

I took Chinese Standard Level in the International Baccalaureate, which trains the abilities of reading, writing and public speaking. There is a lot of extra-curricular activities where students can further improve their Mandarin skills.

I worked for Dexin Magazine for two years, which is an annual collection of students’ Chinese writing works. Another project I joined, called “Knowing Your Community,” gave me opportunities to interview Chinese workers at Dulwich and in the local community.

The application documents mainly included CV, personal statement (either in Chinese or English), English test score (International English Language Testing System), Mandarin test score, high school transcript, award certificates, two recommendation letters and a three-minute self-introductory video. My university counselor, Mrs Hutchison, was super supportive throughout the entire process. The Chinese University Office Assistant Ms Julia also helped with my Chinese personal statement and communication with the universities.

I’m currently enrolled in the department of social sciences and after studying for the first two months, I’ve discovered a strong interest toward psychology. I will probably choose to major in psychology and minor in business administration.

Curriculum aside, I developed a strong interest toward media-related areas while in Dulwich. I took IB Film Higher Level, which taught me techniques in making short films and analyzing films. Most importantly, I realized the importance and rapid development of modern media.

I knew this was something I wanted to pursue, so I joined the student union at Tsinghua to work for them as a reporter, taking pictures, writing articles and making videos for the school’s social media to continue developing my skills in this area. For my career, I envision doing something media-related, possibly where I can apply my knowledge from psychology.

Do careful research on Chinese universities. Chinese universities aren’t popular choices at Dulwich, so students know very little about them. Maybe after researching you’ll find out how much some programs suit you.

Dulwich’s worldwise education broadens your scope. It encourages you to find out who you are and who you want to be. Dulwich is a place full of opportunities and possibilities. What I appreciate the most about Dulwich is the diversity.

It allowed me to learn things from all kinds of areas and engage with people with different cultures.

I think this was the key for me to find my passion and also realize my career hopes should be based on my passion.


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