When and what did you study in Leeds?
I studied Theatre and Performance as an Exchange student from January – June 2014, and then returned to Leeds to study a Masters in Performance, Culture and Context from September 2014 – December 2015.
What made you return to Leeds for your postgraduate studies?
In 2014 April when I was an exchange student my Stage Management teacher spoke to me to ask about my further studying plans, and I told him I was applying for a Masters course in University of Leeds. He led me to the PCI admission office as soon as the class ended to check my application had arrived at the PG office. In May, the day I completed a presentation with six teammates, I got off the stage, checked the email box and found my offer. All my team members hugged me and said congratulations. People in this university are always nice and warm, and this was the first reason that I considered returning. When in my home country I desired an opportunity to continue my postgraduate studies abroad, though I was nervous about the language skills, teaching differences, homesickness and many other factors. That five months exchange however totally changed my mind and gave me all the courage to move forward.
What were your favourite aspects of academic life in Leeds?
British theatre groups’ approaches of performance have inspired me in many ways. During the time studying abroad in PCI, teachers introduced us to many excellent groups and companies based in Leeds. In the master courses, I continue tracing their productions and I successfully made contact with two of them. Thanks to these experiences, I completed my dissertation with good mark.
What were your favourite places to visit in Leeds?
Leeds changed a lot during the two years of my stay. For Chinese students in particular there is a new Chinese market opening next to Morrisons. My Thai Restaurant at the back of Morrisons and PHO in the Trinity Kitchen on the 1st floor of Trinity Shopping Centre could recall a home feeling for Asian students.
Did you visit any other areas of the UK during your studies at Leeds?
After the study abroad programme I visited Oxford, the Lake District and Belfast. I travelled to Europe a few times in the next year: France, Spain, Switzerland, Holland and Turkey. I will highly recommend Turkey if travelling with friends. In December 2015, I came back for my graduation ceremony and with my parents, I travelled around UK within 20 days. Our favourite tourist attraction in the UK was Portsmouth Dockyard. I paid less than 30 pounds with my student ID card, and I could enjoy the whole day walking through ships of different ages. I also went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2015 and 2016, viewing more than 40 shows in total.
How do you reflect on your time studying abroad?
Two years in Leeds allow me to be involved in this country for a long while. The unique culture and history here unfolds a bigger picture to me about the world and myself. I am right now in China studying for a PhD degree in Theatre and Film, and I know that a new world awaits me to explore. I will always appreciate that very first opportunity, which pushed me to this magic journey, that let all these fantastic things happen.
by Xinyan Hu – Shanghai Theatre Academy – China