“Chinese has overtaken French, Spanish and German to become one of the most lucrative foreign languages for jobseekers in the UK. Research shows graduates in Chinese earn an average yearly salary of ?31,000 or more.”
“Chinese students set themselves up for a different university experience from their peers who are taking traditional essay subjects. While an English student may have as little as six hours of contact time a week, those studying Mandarin are in class for most of the day.”
“The first year was really difficult. Most of my friends admitted at one point to crying in the first week because of the intensity. I was almost told at one point that I might want to reconsider and drop out.”
“I found studying Chinese an incredibly hard slog throughout every year. It was a challenge – there is no way you can bullshit your way through it. If you don’t put the hours in then you will fail. That’s it.”
“You get to China and think you can speak quite well, but when I got to China I couldn’t speak anything. You learn how to get by in class, but when thrown into the deep end it was a struggle. When I got there I couldn’t even order some food. It’s difficult to get used to at first.”
“I remember we arrived in Shanghai and we couldn’t even say the number 100 – the taxi driver didn’t understand it. We had to point to characters. The pronunciation doesn’t sound like anything you know – you can’t compare it to English, French or Spanish. You use your mouth or tongue in a different way.”
So are the evenings in spent learning characters while your friends are at the student bar really worth it? Despite the ups and downs of their degrees, all three graduates think so. They each use Chinese in their chosen careers, and would not be in the jobs they do now without their knowledge of the language.