Alumni Spotlight: Rachel Wells


Why did you choose this program?

I chose TravelGrad because I had a friend who had already worked with them, and because they were so easy to communicate with. Every question I had was answered really quickly, and they helped with literally every step of the process, from choosing where I wanted to go to getting my visa.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I honestly barely organized anything on my own. TravelGrad found several options that suited me so that I had choices, and kept me updated on next steps throughout the whole process. It was great having them stay in contact even despite the time difference.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Go explore as much as you can!! Do anything that sounds like it might be even remotely interesting, and invite people to come with you (or go with them whenever they have ideas)! Honestly China is such an amazing place and there are more amazing things there than you would even know to look for - you really have to just go wherever you can and find them as you go.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Where I was, we worked basically from 9-5, although our lunch breaks were 2-3 hours every day. Breakfast and lunch were both provided by the school (the breakfast was pretty good, but the lunch varied a lot, so usually I would have something in my flat & then take a nap, or go explore the city and get something while I was out).

After work, I would almost always go out and meet up with friends and do something fun. There are a lot of expat bars in Nanning, as well as public parks, night markets, and absolutely amazing restaurants.

Over weekends I would try to travel a little further afield, which I'd really recommend doing too! Genuinely, you will see things you can't see anywhere else.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was that I wouldn't be able to handle culture shock, and basically just feel lost and overwhelmed the whole time I was in China.

I got over this by (luckily) making friends really quickly, and constantly staying on the look out for things that I was excited to try. When you have a bucket list with a million things on it, there basically isn't time to feel overwhelmed, so I got over that pretty quickly, and also got to try a lot of great food and meet people I would never have met without this program.

Any additional advice for future travelers?

- Get on wechat as soon as you can!
- Also download papago - it's really convenient for translation
- Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes
- Practice using chopsticks (I was really bad at them when I first got there, and I had a very hungry first week)
- Get a VPN ahead of time
- Bring hand sanitizer/ tissues with you to the restroom
- Don't be afraid to talk to people! Genuinely almost everyone is so nice and helpful