In Living Abroad – Felix Yau, we interviewed the marketing manager of ISD about his study and travel in and around England.
There was a chilled out vibe at Murray’s on Tuesday evening. I arrived early and jotted down a few questions in my notebook for the interview. Knowing that it’s the marketing manager of the international school ISD, as well as a master’s graduate from England, that I was to meet I thought I’d better be prepared.
A young man, neatly attired, smart looking and gentleman like, walked in, looked me in the eye, ‘Echo? I’m Felix.’ and said with a warm smile. We shook hands and after some small talk I knew it’s going to be a pleasant conversation rather than a serious interview.
‘Why England?’ I enquired. “I studied international marketing and project management at the University of Leeds from 2014 to 2015. There are mainly two reasons why I chose England. One is that I finished my bachelor’s degree in Hongkong and I find that the education in HK is rather similar to that in the UK. The other reason is that it only takes one year to finish master’s in the UK.’ Before I threw in my next question, Felix continued with enthusiasm, ‘Actually, I intentionally planned to get to Europe a month before school started because I wanted to try travelling independently. So I planned on my own, arranged everything by myself and flew to Spain. I stayed there for two weeks, hanging out with locals, learning their language.’ This journey was a successful start for Felix and more travel adventures soon followed.
Every holiday was a chance for Felix to explore. ‘I made good use of my holidays and travelled as much as I could.’ Felix has “trampled” on William Wordsworth’s claimed territory, the Lake District in England; he has once encountered a robber in a dark alley in Hamburg while looking for his way to the hostel late at night. Frightened, he screamed ‘help’ and unexpectedly yet fortunately, the robber was shocked by his reaction and escaped. Thinking back, Felix was half amused and half regretted “I should have given him my stuff. I could have lost my life. I mean it was in the news that some tourists got stabbed by a robber for fighting back. I was lucky.” He has also spent Christmas at a friend’s in Sweden and learned that the Swedes share a lovely tradition, which is Christmas must be spent with the company of Donald Duck. “On Christmas Day, every one watches Donald Duck, one of the Disney cartoon classics.” In Sweden, Felix has seen beautiful snowflakes for the very first time, marveled at the glorious northern light… He spoke with passion and gestured with excitement.
Felix managed to keep a good balance between travel and study. When asked about the education in England, Felix said with immediate approval “What’s really different and positive in the class is that it’s very interactive. We do a lot of case studies and debates in class. Students are always encouraged to voice themselves. I believe that it was through interaction and presentation that I’ve learned leadership, gained confidence and critical thinking. Also, we have classmates from different countries and cultural backgrounds. From them, you learn new perspectives and different work styles. For instance, I have noticed that Spanish people are very detail oriented.”
Though important it is to study and learn, Felix insists that instead of spending all your time studying for the sake of the First-class Honours, ‘to experience is what matters more’. Hence, outside classes, he also enjoyed an active social life. “At Leeds, there are a lot of Indians. I learned that if you like dancing, you can be friends with them. I made some good Indian friends through dancing.” Interestingly, it was in England that Felix learned about the food and drinking culture of northern China. “Leeds is nicknamed Little London and drinking is a big part of their culture. Long drinking sessions start every Friday. I have six roommates from northern China and I was heavily influenced by them. I fell in love with spicy food and I even downloaded an app to learn how to cook. People from the north, when they drink, they drink. Once, we were going to a party and we had a pre-drinking session in our flat before going out. We ended up emptying all the bottles in the kitchen cupboard, all drunk before the party even started.”
Apart from drinking, which is possibly one of the most important parts to learn about English culture, Felix has also learned other aspects of the English. “English people are very polite. Once we were driving to another hiking trip and I was greeted by a driver in a car passing by, saying “Hello. How are you?” I was stunned, looked around and realized it was me that he was speaking to. As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, I later learned their politeness and it became natural. If you say hello to a stranger here in Dongguan, people will probably think there’s something wrong with you. Another thing I really like about the English is their accent. It sounds very elegant.’ ‘Have you ever tried to learn their accent then?’ I asked. ‘I sound very American’ Felix answered in English with an American accent and we both laughed.
More regulars gradually filled the pub as night
slowly approached. At the end of the interview, Felix offered some suggestions for people thinking of studying abroad. ‘It’s better work one or two years to have some work experience before doing your master’s degree. You will find how helpful it is especially with case studies. When choosing a university, think about where your inter
ests lie and at the same time what’s a practical major, do a little research about the curriculum and its alumni network. If you have a chance to stay and work after graduation, you will learn about the local life to a much greater extent. The last suggestion is always get the best out of your holidays, take part in events, experience more.’
I thanked Felix for an enjoyable chat, said goodbye, ordered a house red with chicken tikka masala and pondered upon my upcoming journey to the west.
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