Student Experience

Communication University of China, Beijing

In July, 2015 a group of Bath Spa Students were given the opportunity to attend a media summer school at The Communication University of China in Beijing. This fantastic experience incorporated a summer school alongside a series of conferences run by the GALA Network. The Global Academy of Liberal Arts (GALA) is an organisation founded by Bath Spa University’s Vice Chancellor, Christina Slade, to connect creative universities around the world, to exchange ideas, build opportunities and cultural knowledge. The 14 students who took part in this educational exchange gained a valuable insight into Chinese culture, made long lasting friendships and experienced first-hand the differences between university education in the United Kingdom and across the world.

Here are a few of their experiences:

Jacob Leeson

BA English and Creative Writing

I applied for GALA Beijing because I was keen to discover the Chinese culture and what it had to offer. My most memorable moment was climbing the Great Wall of China with the friends I had made on the trip. Another great experience was when we went on an overnight diversion to see the Hanging Temple. I learnt that travelling abroad with a group of people could be far more enjoyable than on your own or with just a couple of friends. There are great dynamics to a large group of people. Going to Beijing also made me aware of the poverty that could be found just a couple of miles outside of the CBD (centre) and how people were only just managing to exist; something I wasn’t aware existed in China. I would definitely encourage people to go abroad with GALA, they are bound to have an incredible trip and meet some fantastic new people that turn into good friendships too.

Annaliese Micallef Grimaud

MA Creative Sound and Media Technology

I applied for GALA Beijing as I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for a Music and Media student like myself to attend seminars at the Communications University of China. I had never been to Beijing, or anywhere in China for that matter, before. The experience would be enriching education-wise and also from a cultural aspect. There were so many memorable moments! The incredible Hanging Temple, the never-ending walk up to the Great Wall and the slide back down and our night out at Club Latte, which I will definitely never forget. I learnt a lot about China – what I knew about China before I actually went, was only what I had read, seen on TV and heard about from other people and the media. Being there gave me a whole new perspective on China; meeting the locals, trying their food and absorbing the culture. I would recommend anyone who has the opportunity to go abroad with Gala to do so, as personally, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Apart from learning a lot during the seminars, one has the chance to discover a great city (in my case Beijing) and also meet new people and make new friends. Gala Beijing was a wonderful experience, one which I would do again in a heartbeat!

Amber Robinson

BA English Literature


I Initially I applied to go to Beijing to take part in the GALA conference because I believed this to be a once in a life opportunity that without the help from Bath Spa University, I would never be able to achieve on my own. I found it very important to represent our university because of the various and interesting art-based and creative courses that our university offers its students. I also wanted the chance to meet new people and I stand by the fact that without this trip I would never have met some of the interesting and lovely people that I did whilst visiting Beijing. There were many amazing things that we got to do in our free time away from the GALA conference. My favourite and most memorable moments include climbing the Great Wall of China and having a drink 84 floors up! Our ears popped in the lift and we celebrated Sarah’s birthday which was all very exciting. My favourite day trip would have to be to the Summer Palace as it was beautiful and some of the photos I took look like paintings because of the picturesque landscapes. Finally, I also really enjoyed the local street markets with locally cooked food and stalls of clothes and shoes. We visited these markets at night which made the atmosphere even more vibrant.


When I first arrived in Beijing I was really nervous. I can remember walking around the local streets and feeling so out of place because the culture is such an extreme opposite to what we have back home in England. I think I have learned to appreciate and admire other cultures and even if it is not something I could personally do/agree with, I should respect that other cultures believe different things. I also observed that Chinese people are very loyal and protective of their government and country. When asked about China’s input to Global Warming, one of the seminar leaders claimed that they didn’t know or think about this as it was not important! I found this to be very shocking. I would definitely encourage others to go abroad and take part in the GALA conference. It was very interesting and other universities from all across the world came and took part. It really showed a sense of unity for the passion towards creative arts.