Tag Archives: student experience

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My experience in Beijing

Applications are now open for the 2017 Peking University Programme! If you are an undergraduate student studying at UC and interested in spending five weeks in vibrant Beijing, China find application details and more information here>

Commerce and Law student Elise Wilson shares her experience in Beijing as part the Peking University Summer Programme.

No textbook or echo recording could have come close to teaching me what I learned whilst in Beijing on the Peking University Summer Programme. The Chinese culture is acutely ingrained in its deep and tumultuous, yet highly magnificent history. Every corner you turn there is a new story, every history book you open recalls a different account, and each person you talk to has an imperative insight.

170712-EliseWilson-IntlExchange2Our visit to the Forbidden City was one of the many experiences on this trip that by seeing it first hand, taught me so much. The construction of the Forbidden City began in 1406, with over 100,000 artisans and 1 million workers involved. It was home to many emperors over the years of 1420-1911, and the palace officially contains 9,999 rooms! The history and the stories that this place could tell is mind blowing, and exploring it was truly something else.

170712-EliseWilson-IntlExchange4Along with this experience, we also got to walk on the Great Wall of China, visit Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace, and attend a number of culture and history lectures at Peking University. All of these experiences opened my mind, challenged my perspectives, and left me with something amazing.


As a Commerce and Law student at UC, I found our visit to the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing very insightful. We discussed politics, business, international relations, technology, and entrepreneurship with a table of diplomats for a couple of hours over cheese scones and New Zealand butter – a great time!

Entrepreneur and billionaire Sir Richard Branson once said: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” For me, I was in my first year of study at UC, I knew no Chinese and very little about China, and I also had no international travel experience before going on this trip. Logically, I could have let this stop me from taking up this amazing opportunity – but instead, my uncertainties made me like a sponge ready to absorb and learn every single new thing around me. So, take up this amazing opportunity in front of you! #noexcuses

170712-EliseWilson-IntlExchange1If you want to learn about the world, yourself, and everything else in between… All while having a great time, meeting amazing people, and doing some Karaoke on the side – I would highly recommend this trip!

I wrote a blog while I was in Beijing, read more about my adventures here!

Plastic Free July – one week in

Juliet and Poppy are embarking on Plastic Free July. Watch their vlog and read about what they have found out and achieved during week one.

Our first week of July found us actively avoiding all single-use disposable plastic as well as the big four (disposable coffee cups, straws, plastic cutlery and supermarket bags). A shopping trip to Bin Inn on Lincoln Road, checking out Eco Shop (Blenheim Road), making our own crackers and hummus, and discovering a butchery that wraps all products in paper were just some of our adventures!

Reusable coffee cups came in handy to help us jump start one of our days out shopping – we find them perfect for buying coffee at uni or refilling with boiling water for a cuppa!

Poppy brought along home baking for the adventure in a tiffin box. These can be found online, in Indian stores (where this one came from) or other stores in Christchurch and are relatively inexpensive.

Picture3I found a cracker recipe online that doesn’t need very many ingredients and could be experimented with to add other flavours. Great with hummus, pesto or a hunk of cheese! Some great flavours to sprinkle on top are: lemon pepper, garlic salt, sea salt and smoked paprika. See the recipe here> It took half an hour (including sitting time and cooking time), is a fraction of the cost of bought crackers like Peckish or corn thins and don’t involve buying any extra plastic!

P.S. after two failed attempts where the crackers burnt to a crisp, we advise not leaving them in the oven for the extra hour or two – we found opening the oven and leaving them for another minute or two gave them extra crispiness.

Picture4For the meat-eaters out there, meat almost always comes in plastic packaging – students know that Pak’n’Save does cheap bulk meat but we wanted to see if there are plastic free alternatives out there. For a slight extra cost through word of mouth I found that Lisa and Barry of Everybody’s Butchery, 372 Selwyn Street, wrap everything they sell in paper. Lisa even avoids sellotape and opted for a rubber band for my sausages.

Picture5Our trip to Bin Inn on Lincoln Road was our favourite stop because we realised they sell lots of pantry goods such as pasta, rice and chickpeas. We discovered that if you take your own bottle you can put oils, dish washing liquid and golden syrup straight in it and avoid using any single use plastic!

We didn’t take note of individual pricing but we would guess that it was cheaper than Pak’n’Save!

A fortnightly trip is on the cards so we can refill our jars and bottles.

Upon realising we would be buying loose bulk foods we popped into the EcoShop on Blenheim Road for some jars as an alternative storage option. We didn’t find very many so we will be looking in Kmart and The Warehouse next time. Sterilising them in the oven is a good idea but first remove any rubber or labels, and boil the metal lids.

One last thing – plastic supermarket bags are handy for lining rubbish bins in your kitchen but they are not essential! Newspaper is a great alternative because it soaks up any smells and will breakdown in landfill. Having three or four layers at the bottom of your bin, plus two or three layers around the sides, should mean your bin is squeaky clean once it’s been emptied.