VET Chinese language students had the opportunity to hear from one of BSSC’s successful graduates today, when former student and scholarship recipient, Caroline Pollock (Class of 2017), returned to the college to share her experiences.

Caroline graduated in 2017 after securing a CSC Scholarship to study at Shanghai Normal University for 12 months.

Her journey with the Chinese language began as a Year 7 student at Weeroona College. Back then she remembers it taking the best part of a year to learn one Chinese character. Now, after a year studying China, she knows more than a thousand and is a confident Chinese speaker.

“In Shanghai I was learning Chinese language ‘in Chinese’. For the first three months I was almost dying,” she laughs. “I was studying 4 to 5 hours a day, totally immersed in Chinese. By the end of the year I just wanted to speak Chinese all the time… English felt almost boring.”

Caroline says one of the most life-changing aspects of her year in China was the people she met.

“I lived in a dorm with people from all over the world and we became really close,” she says. “We studied together; ate together; went out together. By the end of the year we were like family.

“Shanghai is a very cool city and has a great lifestyle. I miss the people—and the food—so much. I can’t wait to get back there.”

And she won’t have to wait long. After being back in Australia since January, Caroline is heading back to Shanghai at the end of the week to take up a job teaching drama and English to young Chinese students, and to tutor students in English at an International school.

“I have all kinds of options open to me now because of the connections I’ve made in China as a result of the scholarship,” she says. “I’m not sure where it will all lead, but my next goal is to complete my HSK5 level in Chinese language and eventually become a ‘native speaker’.

Caroline urged BSSC’s VET Chinese students to seriously consider applying for a scholarship to China and gave some tips for preparing to study overseas.

“Keep pushing yourself to learn more Chinese before you go,” she said. “Watch Chinese videos, listen to Chinese music, practice your tones… or enrol in the free community classes. It’ll make  such a difference.”

And though Caroline isn’t planning more than six months ahead, she’s very excited to be heading back to China.

“I can’t wait to get back to Shanghai and see my friends,” she says. “In a strange way it will be like going home.”