1. What aspect(s) of Yenching Academy fascinates you the most since enrolling?
I love the sense of community at YCA. Even though I haven’t set foot on campus due to the pandemic restrictions, I have always felt very welcome. Some of that is due to the effort the office and students in Beijing put into hosting online events for everyone, and a lot comes from YCA being a great connector. In the past year, I’ve met current Scholars and alumni from all over the world, many online and almost as many in person in Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and South Korea. All Yenchingers have such interesting backgrounds, stories, and goals that I’m super excited whenever I meet someone new.
2. You recently completed your first year at the Academy. How would you describe the experience so far compared with the expectations you had in mind when you started the last session?
Since I was expecting the year to be fully online from the start, I had a great time. I moved to a city I’ve always wanted to live in and absolutely adore (Berlin) and worked part-time in a role that I really enjoyed. Another tremendous upside to living in Berlin was that many Yenchingers are located there, and more would come for reunions. On top of that, I had some fun classes at YCA; I especially enjoyed the very discussion-based ones. Talking about situations and ideas (e.g., education in different countries or Western companies’ business decisions in China) with people of diverse backgrounds was super interesting. It was generally amazing to be able to choose courses freely from a variety of fields and schools at PKU. This way, I shaped my learning experience to best fit my interests (mainly management and education). I don’t know whether there are other programs where I would have had similar freedom.
3. How did you spend the last summer holiday? What indoor or outdoor activity did you enjoy the most in the summer?
In the last week of the holidays, I moved to Seoul. Before that, I took full advantage of the summer in Berlin: lots of great concerts, parties, and people (and more work, of course, which was also fun). I especially loved the indie rock parties at small concert venues like Lido (shout-out to Josh from the 6th cohort, who joined me for my first one before his graduation party the next day!).
4. What are your plans and/or expectations for the second year at Yenching Academy?
I’m now in Seoul for my exchange semester at Yonsei University, so my plans are as follows: academically, taking some fascinating courses and working on my thesis; professionally, diving into the startup scene here and getting to know lots of interesting people and their stories; and of course, fun-wise, exploring the city and all its facets. What comes after Seoul? I’m still figuring that out (Berlin, China, somewhere else?) and looking forward to it!
5. Would you say you’ve noticed some personal and/or professional improvements since joining YCA? How would you describe those improvements and how they make you feel overall?
With working a super exciting job in people experience (a fancy way of describing particular aspects of HR) at an international innovation consultancy and studying very relevant content at YCA, I grew a lot over the past year. It was great to apply many of the theoretical learnings in a practical setting immediately. I’ve also never written as many papers before as I’ve done for YCA, so I’ve definitely sharpened my academic research and writing skills. Since research-based practices are key today in any people-related function (and I’m looking to continue my career in that general area after completing the program), I’m glad to have further developed in this regard.