Xiaotong Zhang, postgraduate Masters student in MA Social and Public Policy.

Xiaotong Zhang

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

In 2011, I enrolled onto the History of the Chinese Communist Party Major in Renmin University of China. I obtained a gradaute certificate and Bachelor of Law degree in 2015. During my undergraduate studies I won the Second Prize Scholarship in Basic Subjects. I published two articles, one in a first class national journal in China and online. I was an intern for both the Communications and Health & Environment Departments in the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) China Program and I was also a former editor in the People's Daily Press.

What motivated you to apply for your course at Leeds?

My undergraduate degree and work experience were closely linked to social and public policy so I had background knowledge and practical experience to support my further studies. Although I received five conditional offers from different universities in the UK, I chose the University of Leeds because of the high course ranking and its good reputation in the UK. Therefore I believed that I could receive better education and tutorials at the University of Leeds.

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

My career plan to work in an NGO is my main motivation for studying. The course has equipped me with sufficient knowledge and skills to achieve my career plan.

What do you think of your course so far?

I have been very satisfied with the frequent interaction between academic staff and students. We usually receive useful information for lectures, seminars, voluntary and working opportunities. The academic staff even organised sessions on writing dissertations efficiently. It is obvious that the academic staff in the school are very considerate and give priority to students’ needs.

What do you think of the facilities?

The libraries all provide silent study area and equipment (you can even borrow a laptop). The newest and most popular Laidlaw Library also contains group meeting areas and provides lectures and tutorials to support your studies. The Language Centre for international students provides various kinds of assistance with academic writing, reading, note-taking, discussion and presentation skills. It also provides a large range of materials covering more than 45 languages.

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

Leeds has a perfect combination of traditional and modern buildings, and no matter what you want to obtain, a modern entertainment experience or a visit to historic places, Leeds can meet your expectation.  For food lovers, you can taste various kinds of international food in city centre. Most importantly, the average living costs in Leeds are significantly lower than many cities in the UK, so investing your education in Leeds is worthwhile.

What do you like to do outside of studying?

I really enjoy the Give it a Go (GIAG) sessions organized by Leeds University Students' Union every term. It’s a good way to try something new and decide whether to join clubs and societies or not after experiencing these activities. I have already taken part in a tea cocktails master class, champagne master class, fencing, wakeboarding, canoeing, skiing, squash GIAG sessions last two semesters. And I have joined in horse riding and fencing clubs and go training on a week basis. I also have joined in O2 Touch Rugby which set up by England RFU, it’s a new way to have fun and make friends.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

As an international student, the most important advice I can give is that the studying and living qualities in the UK are all dependent on your English capacity, so keep improving your English even if you’ve already passed the IELTS test.

What are your plans for the future?

I wish to study further in the UK for either PHD program or another master degree (I have received the conditional offer but need to retake IELTS test to achieve the overall score of 7.5) relevant to social and public policy area.