Chinese students’ travel behaviour: interview with two Chinese students in Dublin
In the context of the EU-China tourism year, B-sm@rk recently has been focusing its attention on young Chinese tourists as an interesting category of visitors in Europe. A particular segment of these tourists is represented by Chinese students in Europe. In fact, China in recent decades has led the global growth in students mobility, becoming the country that sends more students abroad in the world (544,500 in 2016). Furthermore, it is estimated that the Belt and Road Initiative will boost the mobility opportunities.
According to recent statistics the most popular destinations among Chinese students in Europe are the U.K., France, Germany and Italy, but also Ireland welcomes every year an important share of these young Chinese people (1,745 in 2014-2015). Here Chinese students are about 13% of the total number of international students.
Why Europe is so attractive for Chinese university students? What are their favourite tourist destinations here? We asked two 24-year-old Chinese girls, Manning and Xiaoyu, living in Dublin about their experience as students and tourists in Europe.
Where are you from?
Manning: Changchun, in the north-eastern part of China.
How long have you been here?
Manning and Xiaoyu: 2 years.
What are you studying here?
Manning: I am a recent graduate at UCD (University College Dublin), I have a Master’s degree in Applied Economics and I am currently looking for a job.
Xiaoyu: I have recently graduated at UCD Smurfit Business School, I have a Digital Marketing Master’s Degree, and I am looking for a job in Digital Marketing, sales or business in general.
Why did you choose Ireland? And what do you like about it?
Manning: I chose it because my university in China had an exchange programme with Ireland and I wanted to study in an English speaking country. Ireland is a peaceful and welcoming country, and it is easier to live here from the language point of view, being an English speaking country.
Xiaoyu: My university had an exchange program with Ireland. Moreover, life is easier here in Ireland and it is a cosy country. That is why I decided to stay here after the end of the period of the exchange programme.
Since arriving here to attend university have you travelled a lot in Europe?
Manning: Yes, I went for a few trips.
Xiaoyu: I have been to almost all the European countries.
Which destinations in Europe have you already visited?
Manning: Austria, Budapest, Slovakia, Poland and the UK.
Xiaoyu: Italy for 16 days, France, the Scandinavian countries among others. I visited almost every country in Europe except the Netherlands and Austria. In Italy I arrived in Rome, from there I went to Naples, Pompei, Civita di Bagnoregio, Florence, Pisa, Bologna, Venice, Milan, Turin.
Why did you choose these destinations?
Manning: Because UCD International Students’ Society organised these trips, for example the one to Cracow in Poland. But I organised the trips to Budapest, Vienna and Bratislava with a friend of mine that lives in the UK.
Xiaoyu: I just wanted to visit as many places as possible during my spare time. From my point of view, for understanding or living in a different country you have to visit more than just a city. I like feeling the cultural differences.
Which destination did you like the most?
Manning: Budapest because the scenery is beautiful and different. It’s also cheap as a city.
Xiaoyu: Florence, for food, people and weather. I also liked a lot the southern part of France. I usually like clean and organised places.
Are you planning other trips, and if yes where?
Manning: I am planning to go to the Netherlands, because the embassy of the Netherlands grants half-year or three-months visas, which allow you to visit many different places in the Schengen area. The appointments at the embassy are always all booked, so you need to plan your travel at least 3 months before your departure.
Xiaoyu: I also would like to go to the Netherlands.
What were your favourite activities during these trips?
Manning: Visiting museums and shopping.
Xiaoyu: Visiting museums, sightseeing and trying different types of food. I don’t always go shopping, because I am a student so I don’t have much money. But I usually shop for my friends, because they ask me to buy bags and other luxury goods for them. I generally like visiting ancient places.
With whom do you usually travel?
Manning: Friends or with my parents, when they come to visit me.
Xiaoyu: I also travel with my friends and parents.
How do you usually book your trips?
Manning: Usually trough the UCD International Students’ Society. When I organise it myself I use Booking.com, Airbnb and Skyscanner for flights.
Xiaoyu: I prefer to organize trips by myself. I use websites like Booking.com, Hostelworld or Skyscanner. I sometimes book some tours in advance, before getting to the destination.
What do you like about Europe in general?
Manning: I had generally good experiences. People are nice here in Dublin, the lifestyle is good, slow-paced. I also like that the sky is clear and the air is pure.
Xiaoyu: I like that the lifestyle is slow paced, I like the different architecture and art styles and I like trying different food. I like sunny places, because clear skies makes me very happy.
What were your expectations about Europe before your arrival?
Manning: I think that Europe respected my expectations, but I also had bad experiences, for example in London, the accommodation was expensive and didn’t meet my expectations.
Xiaoyu: High standard, generally fulfilled. I didn’t expect to have bad experiences, but I had some and actually sometimes I don’t think there are so many differences from China, at least form the accommodation point of view. Hostels and hotel here are expensive, but I gradually got used to it.
Was it difficult to adjust to a different culture?
Manning: You need time, but it is not so difficult for young people.
Xiaoyu: I agree.
How would you describe Europe to your friends?
Manning: A nice place to live and rest. The air is pure.
Xiaoyu: I would advise my friends to come here. It is a place where you can relax.
Chinese young people make up an important part of the growing flow of visitors from China. Hence, the travel experience of students like Manning and Xiaoyu can really help European tourism industry operators understand the expectations and desires of this category of tourists. Thank you Xiaoyu and Manning for sharing your experience with us!
Get in touch with us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to share your travel experience and be featured in this blog!
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