Monday, September 25, 2017

Meet Anna: HNC Student Blogger

大家好!My name is Anna Woods and I am a second year HNC Certificate/SAIS MA student, so I just spent a year at the Hopkins Nanjing Center and have now started classes in Washington DC. 

A sunny blue sky day on the 5th floor 阳台 (deck)
My year at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center was a profoundly special period of my life: within a couple of weeks we were all the best of friends, with relationships on fast forward due to the combination of living, eating and studying in the same place, bonding over the delights and frustrations that living in China provided and of course the shared worry of being in over our heads with graduate level classes in Chinese.

My background, with an undergraduate degree in Economics and Chinese, is pretty ordinary for a typical HNC student, with one exception: I’m from New Zealand and am one of the very few Kiwi students who have attended the HNC.  I actually have this very blog to thank for that- since I didn’t have any friends or classmates to describe the HNC to me, I relied on blog posts and chats with the admissions team to ascertain whether the HNC would be a good fit for me – and evidently it turned out it was.

I was born in Dunedin, New Zealand and moved around a lot as a child with a father in the military. We settled in Christchurch in 2005 and I stayed there until 2013 when I moved back to Dunedin to pursue university studies. After three years I graduated with my BA in Chinese and Economics and a Diploma in French (in New Zealand a Bachelor degree is only three years long). I worked at a translation company in Christchurch before arriving at the HNC in September 2016.

Walking on the Nanjing city wall with a bunch on friends our first week
I’ll never forget the first batch of readings I did, where I had to look up unfamiliar characters constantly and read through the same paragraph multiple times with no added comprehension – but we soon found ourselves, if not exactly skipping through the readings, building up a core vocabulary that served us well both in decoding the academic readings and speaking up in class.

Meeting the former US Ambassador to China, Max Baucus
From one HNCer to another, my top piece of academic advice would be to start contributing in class from the first week- it holds you accountable for doing the readings, allows the professor to get to know you, and builds your ability to share an opinion in Chinese. It took me several weeks to gather the confidence to do so and I wished I’d done so sooner.

Eating Christmas dinner with my roommate Shirley and friend Natalie
One of the most special things about the HNC is the mixed roommate system of one international student paired with one Chinese student to a room. My roommate, 宁心源 or Shirley, became like a sister to me over the year, always presenting me with new Chinese foods and fruits to try, helping me phrase my emails to faculty, providing comfort when I wasn’t feeling well and enthusiasm when it was celebration time, and so much more. I also became close with my American friends’ roommates, and I live with one of them here in Washington DC.

I’m excited to share with you more about the HNC as well as HNCers experiences at SAIS DC – we’ve already had one of many luncheons, complete with Chinese food, and I’m looking forward to our Mid-Autumn Festival celebration that’s coming up.


Written by Anna Woods, HNC Certificate/SAIS MA Student