Asia, the birthplace of some of the oldest civilizations, is the fastest growing economic centre in the world and home to half the world's population. Following the rise of Japan and the 'Tiger Economies' of South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong, today it is China and India with their economies and drive towards modernisation that catch global attention.
The current economy crisis is highlighting the importance of understanding economic developments, cultural backgrounds and political implications of a major shift towards Asia. All European economies are increasing their engagement with Asian countries to preserve and improve their own ways of living. There is no way of escaping the impact of Asia's rise in a globalised world.
For Irish and European business, Asian represents the most promising growth market. The areas of R&D innovation particularly within the fields of food, dairy and science industries, present Irish companies with a substantial range of opportunity. Already Irish political and industrial leaders are well placed within this market. The Irish government has acknowledged the significance of Asia by implementing its Asia Strategy through the support of commercial, political, social and educational exchange between Ireland and its Asian partners.
The need for people to acquire a deep understanding of Asian societies, languages, politics and economy is increasingly important.
Asia offers students a vast array of social and cultural diversity that concerns hundreds of distinct languages, dialects and cultural traditions. Understanding an Asian language is of massive benefit to anyone intending to build a relationship with an understanding of the region. Studying Asia opens doors to magnificent new worlds and is a major step in preparing oneself for the challenges of the 21st century.
Studying Asia provides more than just a means of communication. it is the starting point for a long, personal journey and an acknowledgement of a potentially life-long commitment to new opportunities
After graduating from University College Cork in 2013 with a first class honours degree in Chinese Studies and Sociology, I decided to continue on to the next leg of my academic adventures at Leiden University, The Netherlands. There, I pursued a MA in East Asian Studies (China specialization). Studying at Leiden was an incredible experience. Though initially quite daunting, I quickly came to see that my studies at the School of Asian Studies had left me very well-prepared to take on the challenges of this new exciting learning environment and to study with top students from around the world. I continued working on many interests and ideas that had caught my attention at UCC, learning to approach them in increasingly critical and sophisticated ways. My MA thesis on Tibetan identity constructions, for instance, was an area I had begun working on while studying an elective course on Gender, Class and Ethnicity in China during my final year at UCC, and has indeed proved to be of pivotal importance in my academic journey so far. Indeed, I have just finished putting the final touches to an edited version of this thesis for an article which is due to be published in an internationally recognised academic journal next year.
I graduated with honours from Leiden University in 2014, and now prepare to begin a PhD in Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham, fully-funded under the Economic and Social Research Council, the Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship for Research Excellence and also the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham. My PhD research will continue to build upon my MA thesis, seeking to explore Tibetan identity constructions as articulated by Tibetan netizens throughout China.
I am very grateful for the continued support, encouragement and advice I receive from lecturers at the School of Asian Studies at UCC. The dynamic learning environment, wide-ranging expertise and multi-disciplinary approach offered me excellent opportunities to develop my understanding of contemporary China. Without a doubt, my time at the School of Asian Studies at UCC has played such a crucial role in shaping the path I have embarked on since, helping me pave my way towards what I hope will one day be a career in academia.