7 August

OV Gap Year experiences in China

We are delighted that OV Miles Maley (Cl 12-19) has agreed to share his gap year story with us which took place in China in the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic. Miles was driven by the desire to learn a new language but gained much more than that. Here is his story;

‘What does it take to succeed: education, determination, talent, skill, luck? Is it any, none or all these virtues which guarantees it and how can you be sure you possess it? Perhaps it is best to assume you have none and find a way to gain some.

Let’s start with education, of all the things I know nothing about where should I start? You might choose to learn a language, the harder the better, so mandarin may be a logical choice. Then, go somewhere you can learn what it means to be driven. China can easily offer this lesson while freeing you from the bubble of Kings or indeed childhood itself. This was my plan. Needless to say, it was hard to predict a global pandemic.

Initially, I flew to Hong Kong and saw the protests unravelling before landing in Beijing to study at PKU. Sadly, I was born in Hong Kong only to be raised overseas. Given that China has historically had to concern itself with its university student body I was not allowed to enter the campus, any campus. This turn of events gave me a couple of days to find somewhere to live and learn. Through a stroke of luck, I found a language school and shared a flat with two other international students.

Among the walks on the Great Wall, tourist visits and World rugby games, lessons were intense and friendships were made. The people I met came from one end of the world to the other and we helped each other through the uncomfortable process of living in China. Often the help was small in the form of some guidance opening a bank account. Other times, it required more time, organising Gala Balls for chambers of commerce or planning rugby games outside the city.

By the time Christmas had come and some of us had flown back to our homelands, the rest of us were running away from the rapidly spreading virus Covid-19. The new year brought a new challenge and new plans were required to tackle it. I thought it was time to find a job and be constructive during the world’s lockdown until universities start again.

Now, with the summer coming to an end, I can speak another language, visit some newly made friends and almost afford paying for beer at university. So, if you had a year spare, what would you do?’