I would like to share my story because my decision to study in Bristol has totally changed my life. It started five years ago, in 2007, after I spent a summer month in the UK for a short visit and educational exchange together with a group of Chinese teachers from Beijing.
The beautiful green countryside; the quiet, relaxing and enjoyable lifestyle in the town; the worldwide famous universities, all of these attracted me to come again. So finally, with some friends’ encouragement, I made a decision to come to England to study for a Master’s degree. At that time I was 30 years old and my parents thought I was too old to study more and should not quit my good job for it. They wanted me to settle down and get married. I had also not spoken English for 9 years since leaving university. I knew it was going to be a big challenge, so I spent about 8 months on improving my English language skills while I was still working. 10 months after I made the decision to come to the UK, I boarded the flight to Bristol in September 2008. Thankfully my parents were very supportive.
The University of Bristol is not only a very good university, but also has a good reputation for educational courses, so I knew I was making a good choice. I had been an ICT teacher for 7 years since graduating from university in Beijing. I was very lucky for the opportunity to study for the MSc in Education, Technology and Society at Bristol. I will always appreciate Dr Federica Olivero’s approval of my study at the Graduate School of Education. That was really a good start to my life in the UK.
After having travelled almost all over the UK and to 19 other European countries, I would say that Bristol is one of my favourite cities. It is easy to get to shops, library, parks, and bus and train stations. There are so many good memories for me, such as a lovely walk along Park Street, a cup of tea by the beautiful fountain in the city centre, or at College Green, a picnic at Brandon Hill, a walk along the magnificent Suspension Bridge, and a day out at Ashton Court Park. But my favourite place is always the beautiful harbourside, especially after finishing assignments. It was always the best place for me to relax.
I particularly liked two courses on my MSc: Communication Representation and ICT, and Design Development for Learning. CR&ICT helped me understand representation can be achieved in a variety of ways. DDL also helped me believe that I can design my own projects. I owe many thanks to all the tutors on the course who are world class academics with excellent research records in education, technology and society. I was truly honoured to be one of their students at the University of Bristol.
Without their guidance and help, I would not have achieved my MSc in ETS. Most importantly, I was lucky to have Dr Sue Timmis as my supervisor for my research and dissertation. She was so supportive and gave me the right direction for my research and Dr Federica Olivero also helped me understand research methods. Besides, all the staff who work in GSOE were very friendly and helpful as well. All in all, the whole year of studying in Bristol was significant for me. I was really proud of myself for completing the course successfully and I felt lucky to have all the best tutors’ help.
I have to mention another wonderful place in Bristol apart from our school. That is BISC – Bristol International Student Centre. I basically spent most of my free time there, mixing with all the international people and wonderful volunteer staff. It is a great place to make friends, to know more about Bristol and Britain and to experience international culture. The activities and events there made my spare time full of happy memories.
I returned to Beijing in January 2012. My British MSc degree helped me find a good job as a programme coordinator at AIEP (Australian International Education Program Management Centre) in Beijing. My main duty was recruiting and training foreign EFL teachers for the UEI (Universal English Intensive) program both from China and English speaking countries. I benefited from what I learnt at the University of Bristol about how to teach by using ICT in UEI program lesson planning to represent English vocabulary and grammar in a way that is easy to understand.