On April 22, 2019, the first batch of graduate students from Peking University HSBC Business School’s (PHBS) UK Campus moved to the Shenzhen campus to complete the remainder of their Master’s Degree studies. The small cohort crossed oceans and cultures to make this exciting new connection between the UK and China, both places unmatched throughout the world in the richness of their educational heritage.
In early 2017, PHBS announced the purchase of an estate in a suburb of Oxford, England along with the intention to have the first intake of students in 2018. The gorgeous property was built over 100 years ago and since converted into grounds for higher learning.
The first overseas branch campus of Peking University was established to provide a unique, world-class international educational experience. Though the inaugural cohort is small, they clearly exemplify the international vision.
The seven students from the UK campus come from six different countries, including South Korea, Germany, the Czech Republic, and more. There is great diversity of backgrounds among them. However, a strong cultural interest in China led each to pursue studies at PKU.
Sydney Chu said, “The UK/China cross border program was the perfect opportunity to live in Europe as one of my bucket list items.” But, even more, as someone who grew up in the US and Canada, she is “most excited about experiencing a new culture and lifestyle in SZ.”
Another student, Giovanni Tuccari from Italy, explained that “China has seen impressive growth in the past 40 years. It is arguably the only economy that is experiencing a real transition from a developing to developed country.” Therefore, he feels “learning more about Chinese culture will definitely enhance [his] future career prospects.”
Something that binds the group is Chinese language learning. A few started at a young age. Others began relatively recently but are eager to make continued progress in China. Sydney Chu and Leonard Weise both began learning Chinese in America over a decade ago. Cheok Kim picked up the language while earning his Bachelor’s degree in Beijing. All their paths crossed in the UK where they began the pursuit of MBAs in either finance or management.
Each knew that completing their degree would mean an initial set of modules at the new UK campus. During that time, they lived and studied together in Oxford as the pioneers of this program. Now, they have relocated to Shenzhen to become part of the larger PHBS community, take their final modules, and compose a Master’s thesis.
Arrival in Shenzhen
The diverse group set foot in Shenzhen midway through the spring semester. They will begin classes here for PHBS’s fourth module. By chance, the arrival day fell on the first day of summer heat in the city. The combination of humidity and the finals testing PHBS students were undergoing kept everyone except the new students indoors. They had little time to waste settling in and getting everything prepared for the start of the next module’s courses.
It didn’t take long to sense the differences in store for them at this new campus. In just the first few days, bank staff assisted with setting up WeChat Pay; a University Town tour pointed out the ways to nearby subway stops; a China Apps Workshop taught how to get a Didi and a late night McDonald’s delivery; and any Chinese language skills felt worth whatever effort it took to gain them. Making China your new home and getting familiar with campus takes some work. But there are bound to be rewarding surprises.
Also, the International Student Union (ISU) arranged a meet and greet dinner for them to get to know a few classmates once the final exams had wrapped up.
Perhaps the most exciting circumstance surrounding arrival at the Shenzhen campus for the UK students is the week-long Labour Day holiday after their first two days of classes. It will be the perfect time to fully enjoy their new home and leave the city to explore other sides of China as well.
The rest and exploration will help the big transition. As Leonard Weise, from Germany, summed it up, “Oxford is one of the most traditional uni towns, Shenzhen is a fast-moving mega-city.” Soon, their studies in this fast-moving city will start flying by.
By Nathan Faber
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