KEEP IT UP, XIE LEI
Chinese student fitting in well
Six months ago Xie Lei said goodbye to her family and friends in China and boarded a plane for London. It was
the first time she had ever left her motherland. “After gettingmy visa I was very excited because I had dreamed
of this day for so long. But I was also very nervous as I didn’t know what to expect,” Xie Lei told me when
I saw her waiting in a queue at the student cafeteria between lectures.
Xie Lei, who is 21 years old, has come to our university to study for a business qualification. She is halfway
through the preparation year, which most foreign students complete before applying for a degree course. Xie Lei
highly recommends it. “The preparation course is most beneficial,” she said. “Studying here is quite different
from studying in China, so you need some preparation first.”
“It’s not just study that’s difficult. You have to get used to a whole new way of life, which can take up
all your concentration in the beginning,” explained Xie Lei, who had lived all her life in the same city in
China. She told me that she had had to learn almost everything again. “Sometimes I felt like a child,” she
said. “I had to learn how to use the phone, how to pay bus fare, and how to ask a shopkeeper for things I didn’t
know the English for. When I got lost and had to ask a passer-by for directions, I didn’t always understand.
They don’t talk like they do on our listening tapes,” she said,laughing.
Xie Lei lives with a host family who give her lots of good advice. Although some foreign students live in student
accommodation or apartments, some choose to board with English families. Living with host family, in which there
many be other college students, gives her the chance to learn more about the new culture. “When I hear an idiom
that I don’t understand, I can ask my host family for help,” explains Xie Lei. “Also, when I miss my family,
it’s a great comfort to have a substitute family to be with.”...