IST-China (Future Leaders Program) Blog Story by Charlotte Bray

Industry Study Tours Blog Post – written by Charlotte Bray

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copyright owned by author (2016)

I was beyond thrilled when I found out that I’d been accepted into the Future Leaders Program Study Tour to China. Travel of any kind always presents an incomparable opportunity for learning and personal growth. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Beijing before, though not since 2005, and Shanghai would be a whole new experience.

Once the initial shock and excitement wore off though, the nerves started to set in. I would be travelling with twenty-three other students from various disciplines. Bunking together, working on assessment tasks, exploring the cities, facing all the inevitable challenges of being thrown into another culture. As a textbook introvert, and someone with a history of social anxiety, I began to question my decision to apply for the program in the first place. We’re all in the same boat, I reassured myself. Perhaps everyone’s got the same concerns.

So I threw myself into the elements I could control: payments, visas, making sure all the right boxes were ticked, and all the right pages were signed. With all those jobs done, I focused on exams, although apprehension about the social side of the trip was always at the back of my mind. What would the other people be like? Would we have anything in common? Would I even slightly fit in with the group? And hang on, shouldn’t I be meeting them soon? The trip’s only a couple of weeks away!

Then I found out that there’d been some technical glitch in the Blackboard system that had failed to enrol me in the site properly, and that I’d missed out on several weeks of announcements, preparation, and – oh no! – the pre-departure workshop! The information, I could catch up on. The academic stuff? I’d get it done. But the thought of everyone meeting for the first time at that all-important workshop was excruciating. We were no longer in the same boat. I’d been left behind on the dock.

I knew that this trip would present me with challenges, but I had no idea that they’d begin before I’d even left.