I have always found foreign languages to be fascinating so I decided that I wanted to study both Chinese and French at university. Since this course is relatively uncommon in the UK, there were only a handful of universities that offered this combination of languages.
Leeds was one of the most prestigious Russell Group universities that provided the opportunity of studying a joint honours degree in Chinese and French and also has one of the biggest Chinese departments in England. This was definitely one of the reasons that influenced me to come to visit the University of Leeds for an open day, but as soon as I explored the campus and met some of the staff and students, I knew that it was going to be my first choice of university. The campus was so beautiful and had a relaxed atmosphere, as well as the Chinese staff members being friendly and motivated by their students. I immediately applied and was accepted to being my studies in September 2018!
Since then, I have loved being a student in Leeds and getting stuck into my degree; most notably, my year abroad in Shanghai was one of the best experiences of my life and I am so grateful that Leeds provided me with this opportunity that I would never have had otherwise. However, coming back to the UK was difficult in many ways, especially since I had to take my language classes online for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. I have found this experience to be challenging in many ways due to the fact that learning languages is all about communication, and this has become so much harder in an online environment. Finding the motivation to get into a routine and relearning how to self-study was certainly difficult, but throughout the year my teachers always went the extra mile to engage their students in the online courses. I was also able to make use of the language exchange and language groups at the university which did help me to feel more comfortable with speaking Chinese and French in an informal setting. Although this past year at Leeds hasn’t gone the way I was expecting, I still feel like I have learned so much in such a short space of time and looking forward, I will be taking part in the summer activities that the University provides to all students that are remaining in the city. I am definitely looking forward to a summer in Leeds!