My name is Xiangtao Meng, a current second year Economics major student at Queen’s University. Time flies, but memories about the summer I spent in Kingston during the QBridge program, my first year and the first half of my second year at Queen’s are so vivid, and it seems as if they just happened yesterday.
What is QBridge? QBridge is a university preparation program for students who have received a conditional offer of acceptance to an undergraduate program at Queen’sUniversity.
Part 1: The transition
If you can dream it, you can do it. By Walt Disney
Before I came to Canada, I had been living in a city called Qinhuangdao, China, since I was born. Different from those who pursue a higher education abroad and study in international schools, I had my education from Grade 1 to Grade 13 in public schools and had never thought about going abroad until the second to last year in my high school. I was facing two choices: attend a great university in China and do excellent there or go abroad and try something new. Even though I was excellent in my high school, I was bored with the rote study and the rigid daily routine without any flexibility, and I really wanted to make my every endeavor on doing what I am interested in and what is new to me. Finally, I chose to study in Canada and at Queen’s University. In order to strengthen my weaknesses before the full time study, I enrolled in the QBridge program during the summer and spent the best summer ever in my life.
Although I spend most of my time on improving English during my first summer in Canada, I was ecstatic about grasping new English skills, and the process of learning English was not dry or monotonous at all. During the class in the day, I was in a really small study group with only seven students and an excellent instructor. Different from my perspective of how a language course is taught, the course was designed in a scheme based more on discussion, guided by the instructor and driven by students’ interests. At the beginning of this course, we were required to choose what we are interested in, and then read and write about it before class and discuss it in class. Before class, I learned new vocabularies, reading skills and writing skills by reading and writing; during the class, I enhanced what I learned by myself and found out new weaknesses. In this way, not only did I become an expert in the field of what I am interested in, but I also improved my English on vocabularies, reading, writing and speaking skills. On the other hand, due to the fact that I only had six hour classes in the day, three hours in the morning and in the afternoon respectively, I had plenty of time for myself after the class at 4:30PM. Personally, I spent most of the time after class on doing homework and exploring Kingston. It was during a walk that I met some compassionate and talkative seniors who I could talk to when I felt bored or homesick. Besides my QBridge classmates, I really treated them as my friends, sharing my stories with them and also listening to their life paths and stories. Gradually, my English improved from classes, self-learning and most importantly from emerging myself into Canada and using English daily.
At the end of the summer, I was glad to see a big improvement of my English, but I was also much more delighted to see was that I gained more confidence on talking to others and accomplishing my undergraduate in a foreign country.
The early bird catches the worm.
Besides the improvement of English, the other thing I really benefited from was the familiarity with the new city and the university campus. When the Residence Move In Day came, and every one was familiarizing with the new campus, I have already known which restaurant is the best in Kingston, where I should go for grocery shopping and most importantly, have bought my first year books and gotten all my first year courses arranged perfectly. When everyone else got lost in the new city and even the new campus, I became a guide for other students and acquainted many people in this way. Without the transition during that summer, I would had been overwhelmed and even had spent a longer time on adapting to the new city, new culture as well as the English-speaking environment.
For me, I armed myself physically by learning Canadian culture, improving English, acquainting with the new city and obtaining confidence. On the other hand, I also armed myself mentally by learning how to think critically. I still remember there was one class in QBridge, when students and the instructor discussed what the traditional Chinese wedding was. When referring to it, I would describe it without any hesitation: bride and groom are wearing the traditional Chinese wedding clothes, the bride is covered with a piece of red cloth and has to cross a basin full of firing charcoal etc. However, I now know I was wrong as I think more critically. Saying traditional Chinese wedding is implicit. There are more than fifty peoples and several dynasties in China, and without clarification of them, traditional Chinese wedding does not refer to any specific wedding at all. In my first year, I start to realize the importance of critical thinking, no matter on reading, writing or even watching news. It helps me to realize the bias of the author or the scene behind the screen and the discrepancy between the fact and what is said.
It was only in these two months in the summer that I transited from an Eastern country to a Western country, and that I improved my English, adapted to the new city, learned about the new culture and got everything prepared for September.
Part 2: The Foundation and Part 3: The Acceleration of this story are coming soon. Follow our blog to get notices of new posts!