COVID-19 Ruined my Year’s Plans; a lesson in uncertainty and seeking opportunities.

It was early February and I had practiced packing my suitcase and decided exactly what to take and what to leave. I had an excel document outlining what I had spent my money on, I had my passport and visa ready to go and it was even packed in my bumbag with a bit of yuan. I had photocopied and scanned all my documents to USB, left an emergency folder of information for my parents and I was just about to leave my internship in two weeks.

But I had been watching closely on the statistics around a thing they called corona virus and I was becoming more and more anxious. I wanted someone to tell me not to go so that it wasn’t my decision to ruin a year’s worth of planning, a years plan and a scholarship. Mum and Dad still wouldn’t tell me what to do, then one morning I got into work and jumped on to look at the stats only to see that a 28 year old with no pre-existing medical conditions known of had died. As a 22 year old with a medical condition, that scared the shit out of me. That is when I decided to cancel my trip but the issue was, the Australian Government did not update their travel advice yet.

I began contacting my airline, the hotels I booked and my travel insurance for refunds. Thankfully, I got just about all my money back. I emailed my university and thankfully I could defer my placement to September. I told my boss that I cancelled my plans and thankfully she really liked my work so my contract got extended for a couple more months.

Between then and now little did I know that this virus would spread to all the corners of the world and reek havoc, even in Australia. So now its May and I am now unemployed but lucky for me I am very good at saving money and I have parents that are willing to let me live with them for three months.

I was feeling very lost for a little while there but now I have re-grouped and instead of dwelling on the fact that my plans were on hold I started thinking about what achievements I could make between now and then instead of wasting my time.

I set a few goals for myself:

  • Study my butt off and get back into the swing of writing Chinese
  • Go get my HSK 3 and achieve a score above 95% (something I should have done a while ago)
  • Study for the HSK 4 and my goal that I have set right now without knowing where my level is really at is to achieve 85% plus so hopefully I will grab a High Distinction.
  • Revise the books I completed three years ago while in Shanghai as I assume they will be using the same books. I will need to really concentrate on all the grammar points they cover off.
    (my English grammar is not spectacular either!)
  • I want to do all of this to guarantee that I will be placed in an intermediate level class when I take the placement tests in SH.
  • Complete one of my marketing classes between June and September. Fingers crossed exams don’t interfere with flights.
  • Get a part-time internship at one of the wineries that export to China nearby so that I can still have professional experience while studying. (I have landed an interview at one of them!)

This is how my brain needs to deal with uncertainty (post-melt-down because my brain thinks that is necessary), I make lists. Lots of them! I need an entire new plan and I need to set new goals because otherwise I would feel totally lost and like I am achieving nothing. I think that this will actually benefit me in the long run because now I have time to study up and make sure I can make the most of being in China. If my goals are achieved, I will finish my Chinese proficiency level at the highest level of intermediate going onto advance. After that, who knows what will happen after July 2021!

I might stay in China even longer for study or work! I haven’t thought that far ahead which can be a little nerve wracking at times for me but the investment I am making for my education should stand out on a resume right? Surely, I can land a job in marketing or sustainability following my China en-devours. I dare say the world is going to change drastically in the next ten years towards a more sustainable future as I form the foundations of my professional career. I’m excited!

Applying for Chinese Government Scholarship

If you want to study overseas in Feb 2021, you need to have all your stuff together in Feb/March 2020! I found the process very confusing and long so here is a step by step guide:
https://www.csc.edu.cn/laihua/
Vital info for applying:
• You can apply if you just want to study the language, nothing else.
• Book a doctor’s appointment – you will be required to have a blood test, ECG, and a chest X-Ray. The cost adds up to about $400 AUD. Make sure you allow enough time for this all to happen.
• You can apply if you do not have a passport
• You must be very well organised!
• You should (optional) scout out someone you know who is a justice of the peace.
• I hope you know at least two professors (that actually like you).

Ellyse’s head at Tianzifang – One of my favourite places in Shanghai. It is filled with nice pubs, signature dumpling places, foreign food, and the main attraction – Art.

1) Using above link Scroll down slightly on the home page and click “Scholarship application for students”.
2) You will come to a login page. In the top right hand side, there is a red button with says “CREATE AN ACCOUNT”
3) Enter all your details as normal and proceed. NOTE: “”Creating an account with Gmail or Yahoo email address may cause failure of receiving verification email from the application system. Thus, you are suggested to use other email address for the registration.”” HOWEVER I did not see this at the time and used gmail and did not experience any issues – up to you.
4) You will have to confirm email address etc.
5) Go back to the home page using above link again. Scroll down slightly and click the same link “Scholarship application for students”.
6) Follow the login prompts and proceed. You will come to the home page with instructions on how to apply but I found them a little confusing. Still use their information tho!
7) Click on “online application”. THE MOST IMPORTANT part of your application is ‘program category’ and ‘agency number’. Program category is to do with the type of study you will be doing so there is a guide to help you – make sure it is correct! I cannot stress the importance of agency number enough. You must call the Chinese embassy relevant to your country and speak with several different people to finally a) get someone who knows what you’re talking about, b) forward you onto someone who knows the number and c) you understand each other! Call the embassy well in advance because the different types of workers work on different days. Communication – they may not understand what you are saying in English, so I and one man explained ourselves in both English and Chinese back and forth. Now do not get frustrated, just be calm and by the tone of the voice and picking up parts of the words you will eventually understand each other. If you cannot speak Chinese, ask if you can email them directly or they can email you. The agency number is make or break. If you guess, make it up, get last year’s etc. your application will not even be read
8) Filling out your application – tip: do not do autofill just because it is quicker. I accidentally submitted that my religion was the area I lived in. They do not ask you anything difficult – ensure you have your passport number ready to go.
9) They will ask you three preferences for your university. Do not pick any university in Shanghai or Beijing just because you want to be in a major city. Pick your university wisely and do your research on the surrounding area of the University and town! I regret having picked SHISU because I have already studied there for 5 months. I wish I had picked elsewhere to challenge myself more.
10) If you just want to do the Mandarin language course study over in China select “Literature” for “discipline applying for” and “Chinese Language and Literature”.
11) Last part: Supporting documents aka “pain in my ass” – TIPS: you will be asked to upload pics and files to the supporting documents part and they have to be under a certain size. So for your passport pic (which must be scanned!) open it up in Paint.net or other free app on your PC and shrink it like by 10. As for your medical reports just upload the foreigner medical examination document – don’t bother putting the rest in. Instead you can try put it in “other supporting documents”.
12) Supporting document #1: Chinese VISA photo (compulsory). I recommend getting this done at a camera house place – not the post office because: no appointment required, quicker and cheaper. Scan the photo, shrink and upload. If its too big just keep shrinking and try again.
13) Supporting document #2: Your degree, High School certificate, etc (compulsory). I uploaded this just as is, but the man I did my interview with suggested I get it signed by a JP/Justice of the Peace in order to improve my application.
14) Supporting Document #3: Transcript of highest education (compulsory):
15) Supporting Document #4: Study plan (compulsory): This is the most important aspect of your application! Do not take this part lightly!
16) Supporting Document #5: Two Recommendation letters (compulsory): These must be in one document, so I suggest you print them then scan them back to your computer in one document unless you are a super smart tech wiz and have some other way. These can be both in English or Chinese and must be issued by professors.
17) Supporting Document #6: Passport Wallet (optional): You may have to shrink this image too.
18) Supporting Document #7: Foreigner physical examination Exam document (compulsory). Now this is the most difficult part. you will be required to have a blood test, ECG, and a chest X-Ray. The cost adds up to about $400 AUD. Make sure you allow enough time for this all to happen. You must keep all the weird attachments for future reference if you are asked to provide them. It was pretty awkward going to get a blood test for syphilis but anyway gotta make sure I am healthy! Make sure that if you do now know your blood type, you ask for it to be done in the blood test.
19) Supporting document #8: Language qualifications (optional): upload your HSK test results/certificate.
20) Other optional document: If you are going over for honors or post-grad study I think you have to upload heaps of other stuff plus your study plan must be very detailed and much longer. You can also upload music pieces or art if you are applying for something in that field. But I am not the person to ask about these ones!
21) Proofread & submit. Download your application by pressing “print the application” to proofread again. Sit back and wait for a phone call in about one to two weeks after submission deadline. Good Luck!

If successful you will be asked to have a face to face interview in Sydney. This was very difficult for me living 6 hours away but I got there. They were understanding and offered to adjust the interview day because I lived so far away and working full time. Due to delays I was 2 hours late! What a nightmare. But my interviewer was aware and was very understanding. The interview is a mere formality so do not be nervous! They will ask you about why you want to go to China, what you like about China, what your career aspirations are, what you have studied/studying and where you work. Very Basic. At the end they might tell you straight away if you are successful and they will tell you what improvements you can make to your application.

The result about whether or not you have actually received the scholarship will be received in July. If successful you will receive paperwork from Beijing. – Visit back here as I update this post with my experience with the Scholarship.

http://www.campuschina.org/content/details3_74776.html
This link will show you which degrees cover what kind of scholarships in Yuan.

Feel free to leave any comments if this was helpful. If it was confusing or overwhelming and you need some clarification on some things – I am happy to help, I am your laowai guide to China.

About SAZCUD

I will be writing about cultural takes from China, travel destinations, applying for scholarships, exchange experience, life in Shanghai, entering Chinese competitions etc. I want this blog to be an informative guide to prepare future laowais for China.

About me: My name is Sarah and I am originally from Griffith, NSW a country town of 25 thousand people with amazing diverse agriculture. I might also do some occasional posts about agriculture, farm life and the amazing town I call home. I moved away, 6 hours to study my degree at the University of Wollongong where I began learning Mandarin. After one year I found myself on exchange at the Shanghai International Studies University. I learned, made friends, partied, traveled and had so many experiences. I have learned culture in the classroom and I have learned culture while traveling China. My blog will be focused on learning cultural differences so that you can be more at ease in China and do not grow frustration towards your host. I do not encourage you to learn culture in a classroom. The best way to learn culture is to put yourself on a plane and go!

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started