Choen Yin Chan
After finishing my undergraduate degree in 2010 (in Maths) at Manchester, I decided to travel to Beijing, China, to learn Chinese. I spent a year at Tsinghua University learning Mandarin. During this year, I not only improved my language skills but also learnt a lot about different chinese cultures. As a British-born Chinese, with southern Chinese parents, and being raised to speak Cantonese, the Chinese cultures I experienced in Beijing were very different to the ones I knew growing up. I enjoyed my time there and wanted to stay longer, so I started to work as an English teacher. I ended up teaching for 4 years at different schools and universities (Beijing University of Post & Telecommunications, Minzu University of China, Harrow International School) and I also worked as an IELTS examiner. During this time I met many other expatriates from different countries and it was really interesting to see how different people adapted to life in China and how they viewed and dealt with differences in culture. I found that I was becoming more and more interested in such topics, and so in 2015 I came back to Manchester to do my masters in Intercultural Communication. This further increased my interest, and my MA dissertation which looked at relationships in UK-Chinese migrant families has lead me to want to explore further. Now, in 2017, I am about to start my PhD, which will explore the cultural identities within UK-Chinese families. In particular, how cultural identities are formed in both first and second generation migrants and the different enculturative and acculturative experiences of the two generations.
Update: Nov 2020 – 3 years on
I had a great start to the PhD. Like many others, I spent the first year reading and exploring, and redesigning my project. I then went on to do my fieldwork in the second year. During this time, I bonded really well with my cohort in MIE, and I also had support from the Lantern community, (although for some time this group was quite small with many people having graduated). I didn’t feel isolated, and I enjoyed taking part in many activities within the MIE research community and other university events, and also working as a TA. I was also balancing a super busy home life, and towards the end of my 2nd year, I went on maternity leave to have my 3rd child. When I was due to return from mat leave in May 2020, it was during the first Covid lockdown in the UK when all schools were shut. I then took a further interruption… Now I am back and trying to settle back into my PhD. The way people are now balancing their work life and home life has changed a bit since Covid and I am still working out how to work productively from home.