'A great journey and an opportunity to explore, to learn, to grow'

Two India-based students offer their reflections about studying at the LSE-Peking University Summer School
Current student Awleen Chawla
"Walking into Peking University building qualified as a definite ‘wow’ moment for me": Awleen Chawla
Standing at Beijing airport, the feeling of excitement of exploring the city, meeting new people and learning new things was inexplicable

Exploring important issues relevant to contemporary China with world-class academics from LSE and Peking University, the 2014 LSE-PKU Summer School attracted 285 participants – including both students and professionals – from 43 different nationalities.

Two students studying at the Indian School of Business and Finance, Awleen Chawla and Sarthak Gupta, share their experiences.

Awleen Chawla

“Attention! Flight no. MU 563 from New Delhi to Beijing is now ready for departure. All passengers are requested to board through gate number 16A.” And the journey begins...

I was pleasantly surprised when I was one of the chosen candidates for the London School of Economics and Political Science Summer School Scholarship, considering the many deserving candidates who had applied for the same. There I was, standing still in absolute disbelief as Shreeja ma’am and Shiven Nagrath, the Student Body president (2012-2013) gave me the news. It only took a moment for them to give away the secret as their stern and serious expressions turned into smiles and mine into tears, happy ones of course. Elated and excited after confirming the announcement, I was overjoyed to discover that I was indeed the chosen one!

Standing at Beijing airport, the feeling of excitement of exploring the city, meeting new people and learning new things was inexplicable. I felt like a child excited to open her presents on an early Christmas morning. Having reached Beijing two days before the start of the summer school programme, I had a reasonable amount of time to explore and travel around. Hence, without any second thought I rushed to discover the city; starting from the very famous (and a must visit) to Tiananmen Square in ‘The Forbidden City’. This historic place was a piece of art and symbolic to China’s culture. In addition, I was lucky to see the sights of an Art exhibition by students of a local school. Visiting downtown, I experienced the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of Beijing. Having discussed the night life at length for the past month with my fellow attendees, I finally had the chance to witness it and it was definitely worth the hype!

After an eventful couple of days, it was finally time for me to visit the University. Walking into Peking University building qualified as a definite ‘wow’ moment for me. The welcoming smile on each face gave me a feeling of acceptance. The formalities and collection of course material was followed by a campus tour of the beautiful and massive institution, which we were told is now also a tourist spot.

Our classes began the day after the Orientation Ceremony. It’s funny how as a student I have never been as excited for my classes as I was on that day. The feeling of being a child was proven right, when I discovered I was the youngest candidate of the lot! An 18 year old sitting in a class with people in their 20s, 30s and some even in their early 40s, it was a different experience.

"The rush of an excited young student brought out the best in me, which made me win the class debate competition as the Best Debater."

Our schedule included four hours of lectures in the morning and two hours of tutorials in the afternoon. The course that I had chosen was all about China’s economy: its past trends and future prospects. It was quite intensive and challenging, to be honest, but an exciting process at the same time. In a period of two weeks, we had two presentations, a mid-term essay followed by a final exam. The rush of an excited young student brought out the best in me, which made me win the class debate competition as the Best Debater. At the end of two weeks, I felt I knew China more than India!   

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and it most certainly did. With the blink of an eye, it was time to bid goodbye to the country that I had already made my own.

As I sat in the aircraft and closed my eyes, I realized how much I would miss walking down those now familiar streets. From attending new exciting lectures each day to talking in gibberish (English) in front of the Chinese. I’d miss it all.

While 18 days ago, I was on the very same flight to a city where I was certain I’d be close to an alien, here I was reminiscing the wonderful memories of my Beijing summer. 

Sarthak Gupta

“Try to learn something about everything and everything about something”. This quote from Thomas Henry says it all about my experience and learning attitude in the 2014 LSE-PKU Summer School. Summer School was a great journey and an opportunity to explore, to learn, to grow and to develop.

The span of 14 days gave me a lifetime experience for which, firstly, I would like to thank ISBF and the University of London for the London School of Economics and Political Science’s Summer School Programme 2014 scholarship. It was a great honour to be among 13 scholarship students worldwide.

"Interacting and studying with people from industry, and from various countries, was a great opportunity to learn about different approaches to a task."

Sarthak Gupta

I took the 'Global Leadership, Management and Entrepreneurship' course which was taught by LSE faculty. It focused mainly on venture creation and subsequent steps for its growth and sustenance at different levels and different time periods. There were close to 50 students in my course from 19 different countries. It was an academically intense course with pretty long study hours. The main area of study was the increase in the number of entrepreneurs worldwide in the past three to four decades.

We had very interesting case studies like Google vs. Baidu in the Chinese Internet industry, the TA Energy case of Turkey, the rise of “Mamma Mia!” musical show and Alibaba Group. Most of the course content was based on a global context of Management and Leadership skills. I had to prepare a business plan with three more people as a part of my course, and my team had people from the UK, the Netherlands and Bolivia.

'Business Plan development' was the best part of my course as the approach of all the members to think and complete the tasks was very different from each other. We all had our own strengths and my work was basically market research, the marketing plan and product development. It was great to work with them on a business plan as I could learn about many other dimensions to look and analyse situations and formulate solutions.

There were highly qualified individuals and professionals in my course as students, who made my learning experience even better. Interacting and studying with people from industry, and from various countries, was a great opportunity to learn about different approaches to a task. We also had guest lectures from distinguished entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, lawyers and investors. The whole study of the economic boom in China in the past 50 years which was primarily based on new policy making and the rise of new businesses was very appealing and interesting.

My overall experience at the LSE-Peking University Summer School was extremely challenging and rewarding.  

Apart from the academic study, managing everything on my own was a whole new experience. I explored the streets and famous markets of China, which was not just fun but also helped me to be more independent. My overall experience at the LSE-Peking University Summer School was extremely challenging and rewarding.