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Feb 09 2023

From BCIS to Cambridge

Student learning journeys begin at BCIS and take them all over the world! One of our outstanding alumni, Qinglan (Class of 2022) recently finished her first semester at the prestigious University of Cambridge in the UK. BCIS recently welcomed her back to visit with friends and faculty, and to hear her story of life in one of the top-ranking global universities. How did BCIS prepare her for Cambridge, what inspiration did she take with her from her time in high school and what is her university life like – we were excited to hear the answers to all these questions and more! 


During her time at BCIS, Qinglan was an active student, and could often be found engaging in animated discussions about all sorts of topics with her peers, teachers and counselors. She frequently took to the stage to inspire audiences through her passion for music. Her hard work in the classroom and the myriad of ways she gave back to the community earned her a BCIS Founder’s Scholarship. It is no surprise that she was able to continue her studies at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. 


“When I was in Beijing I joined a dragon boat team, and, when I got to Cambridge, I realized rowing was a big thing, so I joined the rowing team,” Qinglan explains one of the new activities she jumped into upon arriving at Cambridge. Although being on the rowing team means getting up at 6:00 am to rush down to the river before the sun rises carrying a heavy boat, it has been one of many rewarding new activities Qinglan has enjoyed during her first semester in university. In addition to picking up rowing and also joining the scuba diving society, Qinglan has continued sharing her passion for music and singing with the Cambridge community. Balancing social activities with studies comes naturally to her, as this was also a focus during her time at BCIS. “In BCIS I felt like there was a very good balance of academics, social life and extracurriculars, and Cambridge tries to do that as well,” she explains.  


Although this balance comes naturally to Qinglan, the law degree she is pursuing at Cambridge is quite the challenge. Supervision – a twice a week meeting with a few other students and a professor where you are tasked to prepare for questions on specific material – has been the most challenging part of her studies. “It’s very helpful, because they talk you through things, but they also ask you a lot of questions and you’re expected to respond, so you know what you don’t understand and where to look later. It can be quite intimidating at first, because you’re sitting in a room with some of the biggest people in their field,” she describes the supervisions. Along with her classes, the supervisions require considerable preparation, so Qinglan must manage her time wisely. 


Although the coursework at Cambridge is quite demanding, Qinglan feels that BCIS prepared her well for this challenge. She believes that critical thinking, one of the four learning impacts of BCIS Secondary School (SS), has helped her transition to her legal studies at Cambridge. Additionally, the research, writing and presentation skills she developed through the IB Programmes in SS have made her challenging coursework more manageable. While her workload has increased, balancing the many essays and projects required at BCIS with the wonderful array of BCIS Enrichment Activities (EAs) gave her a strong foundation for university life.  


Qinglan’s outgoing and passionate personality has eased her transition from BCIS to Cambridge. She can often be found with friends around campus enjoying deep discussions on topics from a wide variety of academic fields. “The Community is quite similar in the sense that BCIS is a small, tight-knit community, and I got to know everyone in my grade really well, and I feel the same way at Cambridge,” she says. Qinglan has quickly made friends from her college and activities and appreciates the welcoming environment of both Cambridge and BCIS. 


As someone who has always shared her interests with the people around her, Qinglan now has something unique to share with the Cambridge community. Having lived internationally in several countries already, she believes that coming back to BCIS to spend her high school years in China helped her solidify her own personal and cultural identity. She is now eager to share this identity with others. “Now that I’ve consolidated my cultural identity, going abroad again, this time for university, I am able to represent my cultural identity there. I’ve noticed that a lot of people in university don’t understand or see China the way I do. I’m really glad that I have been able to come back [to China] so that I’m prepared to answer their questions and tell them what is actually going on in China,” she explains. Qinglan left a strong and lasting impact on the BCIS community during her time here, and she will continue to inspire her peers now that she is at Cambridge.