Experiencing the cultural and economic pulse of China

Experiencing the cultural and economic pulse of China

Three Victoria Business School students share their experience of attending an international summer programme in China.

L-R: Madeline Thompson, Hannah Pattullo, and Richard Russell

In July, we flew to Xiamen, China, to participate in the UCSMR (University Consortium of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road) International Summer Programme at the beautiful Xiamen University. This two-week programme involved a series of lectures, workshop activities and cultural experiences aimed at ‘grasping the economic pulse of China’. This was the first ever programme held for the UCMSR and it was a privilege for all of us to be involved. 

Xiamen is a port city on China’s southeast coast, across the strait from Taiwan. It has a population of five million (small by Chinese standards). We stayed on campus in an apartment with the 60 other participants. Xiamen University is renowned as China’s “most beautiful university” and has excellent educational facilities. Campus life was very different to New Zealand. Xiamen University’s campus is the size of a village with supermarkets, canteens, banks, numerous sporting facilities and clothing stores. It houses over 20,000 students and staff.

The programme was a fantastic opportunity to meet and connect with students from a collection of universities worldwide, including China, Thailand, Singapore, Germany, Italy and many more. It helped us gain a global perspective on economic and cultural ideas and issues and create strong friendships with other students. With most of the participants knowing Mandarin, being in the minority was a unique experience. The varying levels of English-speaking ability made for lots of laughs. 

Learning about the rich and historical Chinese culture was fascinating and truly different to anything any of us had experienced. The University arranged activities for us including dumpling making, martial arts, Chinese calligraphy and art, playing golf at a driving range on campus, and Chinese-tea making. Xiamen is home to many famous landmarks and historical sites. We visited Nanputuo Temple, Gulangyu Island, Huli Gardens, a renowned soy sauce factory and many museums. In our own time we went to restaurants, visited the night markets and walked along the beach. We also ate local Chinese cuisine including hot pots, dumplings, steamed buns, offal, Tu Sun Dong (sea worm jelly) and BBQ. Being a seaside city, there was an abundance of seafood on the menu.  

The completion and presentation of a group project in several workshop sessions saw people of many different educational backgrounds come together. It was exciting to see what others could bring to the table. We covered topics such as economic growth and development, entrepreneurship, and gender. The gender group, which Hannah was a part of, won best presentation for the skit they had put together.

Lectures from renowned academics at the university provided insight into Xiamen, the Maritime Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative, Experimental Economics, and Game Theory. These lectures allowed us to advance our knowledge of the region and China’s economic development and growth. With China having one of the largest economies in the world, this insight will prove immensely valuable in our future studies and careers. 

We would like to thank Victoria University of Wellington, specifically the School of Economics and Finance, for providing us with this fantastic opportunity. It was an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, create long-lasting friendships and gain valuable knowledge. We cannot express how amazing this trip has been. 

Hannah Pattullo, Richard Russell, and Madeline Thompson are students at Victoria Business School.

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