A guest post written by Firzanah Firdaus, undergraduate student in the Department of Statistics

My terrible teenage crises (think boys, puberty and mean girls) were slightly more bearable thanks to YouTube. Every time I had what was then seen as a ‘first world problem’ I would type: ‘how to get over your first heartbreak’ on the search bar and 15 minutes later my frown would turn upside down. Therefore a huge chunk of my life became very much influenced by what I saw on screen.

After being an avid YouTube viewer for almost a decade of my life, I decided that it was time to turn the tables. In March 2017 I decided to jump on the YouTube bandwagon and uploaded my first ever Vlog (video blog). It was relatively simple and spontaneous, and focused on a day in London as an international LSE student.

Much to my surprise the video gained quite an audience and best of all, I received a lot of positive feedback, especially from students in my home country. It seemed that they, just like myself, really enjoyed viewing what was beyond the land of eternal sunshine- also known as Malaysia.

Since then I have continued ‘documenting’ my student life and now find myself recording from a completely new place: China.

As I write this I am currently in my third week of eight, studying Mandarin at Fudan University in Shanghai. This opportunity was provided by LSE – find out how to apply next summer for the language exchange programme.

Although surrounded by other LSE students (there are seven of us) at Fudan, I was horribly homesick during my first week. It took a while to adjust to the weather, which is pretty ironic since Shanghai and Malaysia share the same tropical climate, and it was my first time travelling alone in a plane. Luckily I had my camera with me so all these moments, among other events, were captured in this vlog….

However the highlight from that episode was my trip to a nearby Walmart with fellow student Karvin Luong, who was the first amongst us to arrive. Neither Karvin nor I had been to Walmart before, so we both found the experience rather amusing!

Two days after I landed, it was time to register at the University campus called Guang Hua Tower (apparently buildings are called towers here). Karvin and I met up with fellow LSE students Hannah Bailey and Juliette Anyway, before we all walked the 20 mins from the international students’ dorm to the tower.

In this second video you can get a glimpse of what our room in Fudan looks like!

Our first official Mandarin lesson commenced on July 3rd. Before we opened chapter one of our Mandarin textbook we carried out conventional first day procedures such as ice breaking, purchasing text books and finding out about the syllabus. At noon we went to Family Mart- China’s leading convenience store- for lunch. All of these activities can be viewed in this short six minutes vlog…

The length of our classes varies each day. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays we have five contact hours: two and a half hours in the morning, followed by the remaining hours after lunch. Wednesdays and Fridays are what I call the ‘fun days’. The afternoon session of Fridays are reserved for visits, while Chinese cultural activities are scheduled for Wednesdays. On our first Wednesday we channelled our inner Jackie Chan during a Kung Fu lesson. Martial arts, along with a shopping trip, are the core content of this next video…

Apart from just studying Mandarin we all wanted to travel as much as possible while in China. During the first weekend we day-visited SuZhou, a place known to be the Venice of the East and alleged to house the most beautiful Chinese Women. On the Sunday we went to Shanghai Disneyland, which was coincidentally celebrating its first year anniversary. Everything and anything Disney can be viewed on this vlog episode.

Documenting my student experience in China doesn’t stop after these five videos. In fact I will keep vlogging while studying at Fudan University because as clichéd as it sounds, this really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’d like to treasure all these experiences in the form of videos. This way they will forever remain as solid evidence of my life and something I am sure I can not only tell, but also show my grandchildren.