" I was ready to step into something new, a place that wasn’t so close to home, a place that always seemed distant and unreachable."
Our Powerbase members never fail to amaze, there is always something new to pull out of the hat and exciting opportunities to look forward to.
How many of us can say we spent our second year of university in a country far away from your continent? In 2016 Daniela embarked on her China adventure,
read on to discover China in the eyes of Daniela.
How did you stumble upon this opportunity?
I studied International Business at university and an exchange year abroad was compulsory. The application process was challenging, I personally loved it as it made the experience more worthwhile although I shed many tears during the visa process but I fought my way in and made it.
Of all places, why China?
This a question I actually get asked frequently and understandably so. Of all the 20+ options, I chose China as it was the one that would undeniably yank me out of my comfort zone. I was ready to step into something new, a place that wasn’t so close to home, a place that always seemed distant and unreachable.
Did you experience culture shock or home sickness?
Well, I would say yes, but compared to the rest of my peers I think it's safe to say I was fine. I was privileged to be surrounded by individuals that were equally as curious as me, we dared to explore and immerse ourselves completely in the experience.
I came to the UK from Angola when I was seven and I come from a "colourful" background, no two people are the same. Adaptation has become instinctual to me so I'm not afraid of change. Still, I'll be honest and say there were a few things that left me blinking profusely in confusion. For example, spitting is a normal thing over there regardless of the surface, whether it's in the restaurant or supermarket. My curly hair was also a massive attraction, the stares were something I found difficult to ignore.
Not forgetting the constant use of mobile phones on the metro. Naturally I'd find myself reaching for my mobile phone more often than usual, this habit was frustratingly hard to break when I returned to the UK.
On a grander scale however, I learnt a lot about family.
What were some of the most memorable moments?
There are too many great moments to encapsulate into a few simple words. The beauty of being a curious individual is that I am always open to different opportunities. I was asked by a friend to participate in the Miss Tourism pageant in Inner Mongolia, I shrugged away and said, “why not?”.
On the way to the hotel in Inner Mongolia I was astounded by my hazy view of the Inner Mongolian “Ordos Kangbashi” ghost city. Stretches of abandoned land, jam packed with uninhabited apartment complexes. It was an adventurous weekend filled with free food, Chinese etiquette lessons from professionals and endless Qipao dress try-ons. I left Inner Mongolia three days later with two awards and unforgettable memories.
The Summer Palace is phenomenal, to think that such a place can exist inside Beijing is crazy. At the top looking ahead, metropolitan Beijing is not far behind, we got a wide view of the Longevity Hill, then over the 17 Arch Bridge bundled with tourists, workers tipping through the sides and a peaceful kite flyer candidly doing his thing.
I went backpacking around Southeast Asia with a friend during Chinese new year, that was pretty cool. We toured Vietnam from North to South, took a coach to Cambodia for a few days then a train to Thailand. I met so many incredible people along the way, nothing beats exploring other cultures first hand.
Would you do this again?
Oh yes! Most definitely