The sound of the cheering crowd rang in my ears as I shakily crossed the stage, blinded by the bright lights. So much time and effort had been put in to make this moment perfect, and then almost as quickly as it began, it was all over.
My name is Rachael, and I am a current second year student at the University of Queensland. I come from very humble beginnings, in a little suburb in Brisbane.
As I entered University for the first time, I have to say, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was so used to being told what to do in high school, that when we entered university, I did not know where to begin! I went to a few open days, and eventually found my calling. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Science and Arts, majoring in Psychology, International Relations and Chinese (Mandarin).
In 2007 I joined a group at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), to go on an English teaching trip to Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. During that trip, I fell madly in love with this amazing country, and I decided I was going to do whatever I could to be intertwined with her language and culture.
This year, the Confucius Institute at the University of Queensland held the preliminary finals for the Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition at UQ for the first time. My Chinese teacher basically forced half our class to enter the competition, and for that I am eternally grateful. Not only did I win the preliminary finals, but I was sent to China to compete in the world Semi- finals!
The competition was an amazing experience, and I would not have traded it for anything in the world. I made friends with 120 amazing students from around the world who were also learning the Chinese language! The competition was aired on National Chinese television, and we were given the celebrity treatment not unlike starlettes receive in Hollywood. Massages, drinks, amazing food, posh hotels…when the competition was over, we were sad to leave!
When I returned from China, I soon got a job at one of Australia’s leading training centres, and I also became the Vice President of the Australia China Youth Association at UQ!
The good news didn’t end there. The Confucius Institute headquarters awarded me with a 6 month scholarship to a university of my choice, anywhere in mainland China. I have decided to go to Peking University next year, so watch this space for more updates!