Mathew Birt

Mathew has been interested in Chinese culture since high school. Last year, he had the opportunity to go to the prestigious Peking University and explore Beijing for three weeks.

Why did you choose your subject?

I've been studying Chinese since high school. I'm really fascinated by the language and culture. I’m also studying commerce, which goes hand-in-hand with studying Chinese.

Have you had a chance to go to China?

Last December I went with nine other students to Peking University. It's one of the most prestigious universities in China. We had language, history and culture classes, and also helped collect market research for Canterbury Mayoral Forum.

What’s Peking University like?

The sheer size is incredible. It's like something from a movie. They have supermarkets, gyms and art galleries all on campus. China is so fast-paced and full of surprises. Every day you discover something new. You come home with so many stories to tell.

Did you get to see the sights too?

We went to the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and the Olympic Stadium. We went to one of their biggest shopping districts and tried deep-fried scorpions. They weren't too bad. Crunchy!

Tell us about Global China Connection?

It's a worldwide student run organisation. We're all about inspiring UC students with China related opportunities. Our main thing is the Shanghai Shout Internship Challenge. Last year we sent three students to Shanghai, all expenses paid, to intern with either Tourism NZ or Westland Milk. I’m fortunate enough to be President of GCC this year!

You sound really focused!

I've always been the type of person who wants to follow a clear path. But since Beijing I’ve realised that there are so many different things to do in life. It’s good to follow your passion, but it's also important to keep your options open.

How is UC helping you thrive?

At UC you get the best overall experience. You get world-class academics, travel opportunities and a great social life. It puts you in a position to take advantage of everything that’s out there.

What's next for you?

In September I’m off on a one-year exchange to Zhejiang Gongshang University in Hangzhou. I'm looking forward to immersing myself in the Chinese culture again. My Peking trip just made me hungry for more!