LSE is committed to producing global citizens and providing students with opportunities to enhance their degrees. This is why we have been sending students to spend two to three months to one of our institutional partners, like PKU in China.
Read about Yan's time in Beijing, and see whether this opportunity might be for you too.
Why did you apply to the Partnerships PhD Mobility Scheme?
My dissertation focuses on China and one chapter of my project required some fieldwork. I applied for the mobility scheme as it was a perfect fit with my fieldwork plan. Visiting the host partner institution in Beijing helped me to assess the resources and networks for planning and conduct interviews and surveys–it’s always easier to win people’s trust with some affiliations from local institutions. I also got access to the localized datasets provided by the local university library, which was useful for some other parts of my project.
What was the best part of your time abroad/What were the best moments of your visit?
Having conversations with local scholars. They were very brilliant and vigorous. It was quite amazing to see such a lively and sustainable academic community, and to witness how they are developing their own field in spite of the potential uncertainties and challenges in the big socio-economic environment.
How will you use what you learned there?
As a quantitative researcher, one of my weaknesses is to reach out and talk to people, listen to them about their individualized experience and I enjoy those talks. My experience of some pre-research interviews with people I’m interested in was quite inspiring. It’s hard to image how much people would like to share with you once you win their trust. More importantly, such individualized interactions actually bring more hidden facts and mechanisms you won’t see in large-scale datasets. Maybe in the future, I will find some better ways of combing information from different approaches.
How was life at PKU compared to the experience you have had in London?
Life in Beijing is very intense and energetic. I had been to Beijing before and was familiar with the environment there. But I was still kind of surprised by the energy and the information I experienced there every single day. It’s too common to hear some big names (in my field) giving a talk here and there, and conferences/workshops ongoing now and then. It’s really likes an information centre that everyone comes and goes quickly, and exchanges their ideas in a very efficient way. Life in London is comparatively more routine-like, and life in Beijing is a bit like an adventure in the jungle: surprises and shocks arrive unexpectedly.
What are your top tips for potential applicants?
Plan in advance, and make the most use of your time there;
Be brave, talk to people (when they wish the same); you may find advice from people outside the academic world sometimes quite useful;
Enjoy life wherever you are; visiting other places always give you fresh views on your life and your work.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with others?
My planned work of interviews and survey all went a little bit slow at the beginning. It was not easy to find proper interviewees and a reliable company which could distribute the survey. Both of these problems got solved when I had (separate) meals with some friends. After I explained my situations and troubles, they offered to help me with the source of interviewees, and to source survey companies, and even some small funds to cover parts of the expenses. So, talk about your project whenever you can (in an appropriate way of course), you may find some surprises.