Minchao (Cathy) Lin from China loves to travel. So it's no surprise that she chose to study a Bachelor of Applied Management as an international student at CPIT (now Ara Institute of Canterbury).
What is surprising is that her studies took Cathy to yet another interesting international destination. Partway through her degree, she got the opportunity to take a study exchange to a university in Germany.
"I love travel and to experience different cultures," Cathy explains. "I want to do different things while I am young. It is perfect that CPIT has such great chances to go on exchange, it's the best way to study and travel together."
Cathy loves Christchurch and has made many friends here. "I really enjoy the lifestyle, the beautiful landscape and the people here. Kiwi people are very kind and open-minded. They have a positive attitude and make jokes for everything. And they have initiative to say hi, even though they don't know you."
The learning style also appealed to Cathy. "CPIT is well known for its practical education style. We spend more time in group discussions and doing group assignments. The focus is on how to apply the theory to real-life. Students are very active in the class and the tutors are very knowledgeable and helpful."
During her German exchange, Cathy travelled to 10 other European countries. She particularly liked Turkey. "I didn't plan too much before I went but I very much enjoyed sharing the time with other exchange students and building lifelong friendships."
Language has been Cathy's biggest challenge while on exchange, especially in Germany. "I could not speak German at all, so it was very hard at the beginning. I struggled to buy meals in the dining hall and to go shopping." The university provided her with free German courses which she found very helpful. "At the end of my exchange, I could speak basic German."
Despite the challenges, Cathy says an exchange is the best thing you can do in your life. "I became more confident and independent. I met so many people on exchange and travelling. All of these people I met are from different countries with different backgrounds which shape my personality and refresh my ideas."