My name is Xinyue Zhao and I am from Shenzhen in China. I started my university journey in September 2021 at the University of Winchester studying Musical Theatre.

I thought I would go through the Gaokao system for a long time, ending up with going to a university in China until 2019, my second year of my Senior High School. I had a late self-conscientiousness of what I really wanted to do after watching some musicals, especially Rent (1996). That was the first time in my life, I seriously considered myself being an “artist” for the rest of my life rather than doing other academic stuff which I was trained for 17 years. It was a complete risk for a person who had never properly sung, danced, or acted before, I still think it is very brave to make the decision.

Luckily, I got support from my family after I showed my determination, so I started to think how to achieve my dream. I did think about going through the Yikao which would be an easier choice or going to America where musicals are extremely flourishing. However, the UK became my first choice as I felt we share a more similar culture. I then arrived in the UK to study A-Level before university in order to be more prepared for further studying.

When it came to applying for university, Winchester became my first choice. Not only because the course is amazing, but also the lecturers and students gave me a very welcoming and friendly vibe when I had my interview. Although it was hard since it happened during the pandemic, it was the best interview I had. It was more than an interview, the lecturers gave me a lot of useful singing and acting advice which helped me to improve my skills, and senior students told me about their fabulous time in the university, inside and outside classes.

One of the best things here for me is the friendly, tolerant, and diverse community. You can find people from many different races and cultural backgrounds with different beliefs. My best friends are from Norway, my flat mates are from Portugal, Greece, and South Africa. We have felt welcomed and encouraged to share and embrace our differences and I am fascinated by their experiences, as well as proud to show my culture. I do not feel stressed at all about being different, which is a precious thing of being a student from overseas. 

I love the way we are trained in my course. It combines practical professionalism and academic study which helps us to know the industry better and offers us multiple choices in future careers. We’ve had multiple guest lecturers from the musical theatre industry giving us diverse views about our future career. We are also able to set up our social network in theatre from our lecturers, classmates, and friends from societies. I was lucky to be involved in two professional shows outside the university this year, The Producers in Plaza Theatre and Starling Arts 10+ concert in London Cadogan Hall. These great experiences not only happen in the Faculty of Arts, but also every other course. The University of Winchester is a university that provides current academic study as well as future career advice help which helps us to move forward after uni.  

Although I have only been here for one year, I have had so many awesome memories so far. This is absolutely an excellent choice for international students to consider in terms of university studying or living. I cannot wait for my next two years and hopefully I will be able to meet some lovely fresh faces from all over the world this September! 

By Xinyue our BA (Hons) Musical Theatre student from China.