Lin Li, a postgraduate student at the School of Social Sciences has found ambition and friendship and discovered ballroom dancing during his time at Cardiff
The Universityís School of Social Sciences has offered me the chance to thrive in my study of sociology. Without this I could never have made progress in transforming myself, a merchant navy engineering officer, into a sociologist in learning.
I had heard of the city of Cardiff before I was introduced to my current Seafarers International Research Centre Nippon Foundation postgraduate programme. A company I worked for in China assigned me to work on board a small cargo ship for a Cardiff-based operator. I was told the post would be in the field of engineering, and was frustrated when this didnít turn out to be the case. I quit in less than ten days and went to Newcastle in order to continue my training on a programme in shipping management. Since then, Cardiff has been a mysterious place to me.
Despite this, I did not hesitate to apply for the Seafarers Nippon Foundation postgraduate fellowship in Cardiff. I still remember the first time I actually came to Cardiff. It was about midnight when a taxi dropped me off in front of the University accommodation building I was to live in. As I did not have a mobile phone to call security to collect my key, I walked back onto the pavement and found a helpful student who offered me his mobile. The security guard arrived in a car in a few minutes. His welcoming gesture coupled with the help from the first student I met in Cardiff helped my previous negative thoughts about the city to fade.
I settled into Cardiff life, and my confidence grew in my studies and social activities - I started liking the city. I could enjoy tranquillity in Bute Park with one or two of my new friends or visit the modern city centre. I also attended several of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution meetings in the city to help organise fundraising events. As well as helping out at these events, I took part in a sleep-out in 2006, organised by Cardiff Action for Single Homeless where I raised money for the charity.
As part of my first year of study, I was required to attend taught courses. These could have been obstacles in my ambition to gain postgraduate education if I had not received adequate support from the School and colleagues at the research centre. I am deeply indebted to my supervisors for their scholarly guidance, which has contributed to the success of my studies.
In my spare time, I take lessons in modern jive and ballroom dancing, where Iíve met wonderful people. I get on well with them, and by meeting new people Iím learning more about British culture. The dance lessons are also a way to help me relax after studying.
My wish now is to get the maximum fulfilment from the rest of my time here and to prepare myself for the next chapter in my life after Cardiff University.