Jennifer Doherty - Experience China, Huangshi, China

Written by Jennifer Doherty, BSc (Hons) Biomedical Sciences DPP, Experience China, 2023.

7 Aug 2023   3 min read

Jennifer Doherty - Experience China, Huangshi, China

Experience China, 2023

“An amazing opportunity that I was so lucky to be a part of, giving me memories and experiences of a lifetime!”

Moments to share

On arriving to Hubei Normal University on our first day, I was amazed at how welcoming the staff and students were, and how excited they were to meet us. Throughout our week in Huang Shi, the students and teachers of HBNU showcased their culture through music, dance, art, martial arts and language and I made a lot of new friends.

We visited so many beautiful places in China. My favourite was the summer palace - it was really colourful and had so many unique pieces of artwork with so much history which I loved learning about. I also really enjoyed the sights of the Yangtze river, the large mountains was a really beautiful sight.

The most memorable moment of my trip was going on the Great Wall of China, in person it was bigger than I had imagined. I found it very rewarding making it up all the steps to get onto it. The sights from the Wall were amazing and I was able to take many beautiful photographs.

Another memorable moment from the trip was KTV! The karaoke was so fun and it was nice to spend time with the students from HBNU. I really hope we can get places like that in Ireland!

Experiencing a new culture

One of the biggest differences I noticed was the culture around food. Lunch was the biggest and most important meal of the day and it always had an array of different flavours.

One thing that amazed me was the artistic differences in China, particularly in the way this was displayed. We were able to see multiple times groups of people dancing in public and we were able to see many landmarks with very intricate designs and coloured in red and gold.

The most notable thing about the Hubei Normal University to me is that it contained a science museum with research on animals and plants. Campus was very beautiful and displayed the Chinese culture.

Challenges and how to tackle them

The weather got very warm at times, which made it hard to focus when outside for too long. Thankfully, all inside areas were air conditioned and both manual and electronic fans were available in most stores. I'd like to give a big shout out to our guides who always made sure we had water to cool ourselves down and who were very patient with us.

I was not great with my Mandarin skills when arriving to China, so there were moments when the language barrier made it difficult to communicate. I tried to teach myself as many useful phrases as possible and asked guides for help and guidance when needed. A translation app was available and everyone was so patient with us.

My biggest challenge throughout the trip was learning how to use chopsticks properly. Although I was able to practice every day with our meals, it still took me almost the entire trip to become confident in it. Many of our new friends helped me along the way and I'm glad to say I am able to use them now.

Making friends

Everyone we met in China were so friendly. The students from Hubei Normal University were very accommodating and were all just as interested in getting to know us as we were. I have made quite a few friends from this trip who I still keep in touch with. I feel like I have made lifelong friends.


Try everything, keep challenging yourself and overall enjoy the experience. Don’t be afraid to immerse yourself in the culture and to ask questions about everything, keep a diary or a vlog of all your experiences.

My last piece of advice is to bring a piece of your own culture with you. The locals were just as exited to learn about us as we were to learn all about them. Take some souvenirs and items that display your own culture with you to give as gifts to new friends as it will mean a lot to them.