In April 2014 when I was an exchange student my Stage Management teacher asked me what my plans were for further study, and I told him I was applying for a Masters at the University of Leeds. We went to the School of Performance and Cultural Industries (PCI) admissions office as soon as the class ended to check my application had arrived. In May, I checked my email inbox and found my offer. All my team members came to me, hugged me and said congratulations. People in this university are always nice and warm and this was the first reason that I wanted to return.
When I was in my home country I had wanted to take my Masters abroad, but I was nervous about the language skills, teaching differences, homesickness and many other factors. However, that semester exchange totally changed my mind and gave me all the courage to move forward.
The way British theatre groups work inspired me in many ways. During my time studying abroad in PCI teachers introduced us to many excellent groups and companies based in Leeds. During my masters programme, I continued to follow their productions and I successfully made contact with two of them. Thanks to these experiences, I completed my dissertation with a good mark.
Leeds has changed a lot during the two years of my stay. A Chinese supermarket opened 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 recall a feeling of home for Asian students.
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 highly recommend Turkey for travelling with friends.
In December 2015, I came back for graduation and travelled with my parents around the UK. Our favourite tourist attraction in UK was Portsmouth Dockyard. We enjoyed the whole day walking through ships of different ages. I also went to Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2015 and 2016, viewing more than 40 shows in total.
Two years in Leeds allowed 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 back in China now studying a PhD in Theatre and Film and a new world awaits me to explore. I will always appreciate that very first opportunity, which pushed me to this magic journey and let all these fantastic things happen.