Monica Luna-Estrada

2nd place winner in the 2015 BC "Chinese Bridge" Mandarin Speech Contest (non-heritage speaker-beginner level group)

What does a day in the life of Dual Degree Program student look like in China?

Every day is an adventure; there’s always something to discover. I like to wake up early to grab some noodles for breakfast, and then head to class. After class, I meet up with some friends for lunch, and spend the rest of the day studying and exploring the city. If there’s class in the afternoon, grab some bubble tea first!

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced when studying abroad? How did you manage to overcome it? 

I think the biggest challenge for me was the language barrier. However, with studying diligently and practicing whenever I can, my Chinese skills have definitely come a long way. Working with the other DDP students and learning from each other has also helped.

What surprised you the most about your Chinese experience, if any? 

How diverse the community is here. There really are people from all over the world, it’s amazing! 

What are some of the most memorable moments of your experience so far? 

For me it was one night where myself and a few friends decided to go to a night market. We ended up going to multiple markets, and tried lots of new food. Afterwards, we walked back home through west lake – the night view is amazing.

What are some must-do things in Hangzhou?

West Lake goes without saying! Going to karaoke is also a must, and tasting some scorpions from the night market.

What is the most valuable lesson you learned from your overseas experience? What were the greatest rewards?

The greatest lesson for me has been independence. I’m far from my home and my family, so I have learned to rely much more on myself. The greatest reward I think is the experience itself.

What advice do you have for future Dual Degree Program students?

Have an open mind, and don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone. Try new things as often as you can and talk to as many people as you can.

How did this international experience shape your outlook about your career and life in general?

This experience has really broadened my worldview. I feel as though the knowledge I’ve acquired in China is applicable regardless of where I am in the world. I also feel as though China offers many possibilities that may not be available in Canada. This experience has also taught me to not take anything for granted.