Kirk McDowall, a member of the NZCFS Wellington Branch, is running a blog to record his adventures while at University in Xiamen, Fujian province, China: adventuresinchina23.wordpress.com.
Kirk, who was born in Christchurch but has spent most of his life in Wellington, worked initially for the government, and in his blog writes about his experiences and insights in China, of learning Mandarin, life on campus, and the rewards and challenges of living in China.
In 2014, he travelled to Guangzhou and Shanghai to do volunteer work for six months. At the time his Mandarin was limited, but he decided that he wanted to continue to learn the language, and liked the idea of working and living in China.
Upon returning to New Zealand, Kirk started taking part time Mandarin classes and joined the NZCFS. Over the years his Mandarin did improve, but it was slow, as his use of the language was limited. During this time, he was to meet his girlfriend, Di, who initially hails from Xiamen and after working in New Zealand for a while she returned to Xiamen to do her Masters degree. Xiamen, located on Southeast coast of China, is also a sister city of Wellington.
Kirk decided that he too would like a change of lifestyle and moved to Xiamen too in February this year. He applied to do a language course for one year at Hua Qiao University, which he has funded himself and hopes to get a part time job there to cover the rest of his expenses, hoping eventually to find work in China afterwards.
Kirk says living with a couple of Chinese guys close to Xiamen University (and Di living on campus) will improve his mastery of Chinese in leaps and bounds.