Emily Maguire - Experience China, Huangshi, China

Written by Emily Maguire, Business Studies, Experience China, 2023.

14 Mar 2024   2 min read

Emily Maguire  - Experience China, Huangshi, China

Experience China, 2023

“A once in a lifetime experience!”

Memorable moments

There were lots of unforgettable experiences whilst on the trip. One of my favourite moments during our week at the Hubei Normal University was going to KTV with all the new friends and teachers we met. The students brought us some new snacks to try, we talked, sang and danced together. The best part was when the whole room got up to dance to Gangnam style together!

My highlight of our sightseeing was most definitely the Great Wall of China. It was a once in a lifetime experience, it felt surreal. Although it was a tough walk with a lot of steps, it felt like an accomplishment when we reached the top of the watch towers and we were rewarded with spectacular views.

Learning about a different culture

When eating at restaurants you would not order your own individual meal but instead order a range of larger dishes for the entire table to share. They would be placed in the centre of the table on a lazy Susan so they could easily be rotated and shared. I really enjoyed this way of eating as you got to try a bit of everything! The round tables also felt more sociable in large groups, compared to our long rectangle tables at home.

Challenges and how to deal with them

Language barrier was the main challenge we had to face, especially with only having basic Mandarin skills. I tried my best to learn some key phrases that helped me to order and shop in stores. It improved my Mandarin a lot after visiting.

The heat was also something that we are not used to in Ireland! I found it quite tiring to walk around in high temperatures for a long time. Thankfully, everywhere we visited had air conditioning. We also came well prepared with electric and handheld fans. After a few days it became easier as my body began to adjust and get used to the higher temperature.

Making friends while abroad

Everyone at Hubei Normal University was so welcoming and kind. I have definitely made some lifelong friends! Even strangers in public were extremely friendly and I found it easy to make friends as everyone was so lovely.

WeChat is a popular app in China and people would ask you for your WeChat! I have continued to use this app to stay in contact with my friends.

Travelling and sightseeing

The Great Wall and the Forbidden City are probably the most famous tourist attractions in China and definitely a must see. The Summer Palace is also a beautiful place I would recommend to visit. These are all historic landmarks that are a beautiful insight to Chinas history showcasing traditional architecture and art.

If you love shopping, Wuhan is a great city with busy streets full of lots of shops and restaurants. Pearl market in Beijing are also a must do if you like to bargain, this is a great place to pick up some unique souvenirs!


I would say just go for it! It is an amazing opportunity that you will not regret. It is an amazing way to explore a new country, make new friends, and experience a different culture. Immersion also really helps to improve your language and communication skills.

I would recommend researching and learning about cultural differences, traditions and food. This way you know what to expect and are less likely to experience a culture shock.