Skip to content
Yanan Zhao


United Kingdom
I was fortunate that every teacher was very conscientious and responsible, and the lectures were delivered in a way that made me feel at ease.

More about Yanan

About you...

What degree did you take at undergraduate level and where did you study?

Fashion brand management

University of Central Lancashire

Did you take a break in between your undergraduate degree and the postgraduate degree? If so, what did you do in this study break?

Yes, after my undergraduate degree I chose to return to China to start my own business. I opened milk tea and yoghurt shops in three separate cities in China from 2017 to 2018 and transferred these shops after a year in business to work in Singapore. Because in the process of starting my own business I realised my strengths and weaknesses. So I want to correct my weaknesses and improve my personal skills through work experience.

Why did you want to undertake a postgraduate degree, and do you think it has benefitted your career aspirations?

First of all, it was in my original life plan that I would definitely do a Master's degree, but I just wanted to try to be financially independent after my undergraduate degree and use the money I earned to pay for my postgraduate studies. Although my undergraduate studies were in business, my post-graduate studies involved overseas business, both in my own business ventures and in my work experience in Singapore. However, country-to-country relations can have a significant impact on overseas business, which can be both positive and negative. So I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of international relations as a profession through my postgraduate studies.

Why NTU…

Why did you choose NTU and your course?

In 2012, I was 17 years old. My first stop to study abroad was the school NTU, although I was only enrolled in a one-year foundation course at NTIC. But I wanted to return to school in the UK after four years and I still wanted to make NTU and the city of Nottingham a new start in my life.

Could you describe your experience of being a Postgraduate NTU student?

It is quite different from being an undergraduate student, with very few classes per week, which means more time is needed for independent study. It is important to learn to organise your time more wisely. Of course, the difference in my major also made my first semester a struggle, but I was fortunate that every teacher was very conscientious and responsible, and the lectures were delivered in a way that made me feel at ease.

To sum up, there are three points.

1. The degree of active learning is different

As far as I can remember, undergraduate studies tend to be passive, while postgraduate studies are completely independent.

2、Difference in time spent on projects

Undergraduates study and find materials in order to complete their assignments, go to class for attendance, complete various exams for credit, and memorize books carefully.

Postgraduates basically spend a lot of time in the office or library every day, reading literature, reading papers and making reports to prepare for their graduation thesis or their research results.

How would you describe the support from your tutors, university staff and student services?

The professionalism of each tutor was very high, which allowed me to complete each stage of my studies with confidence even though I did not have any relevant professional background.

On Placement...

Have you completed any work placements on your course? If so, tell us about your experience - where did you go, what did you do, what skills have you gained and what have you enjoyed the most?

As I had no previous professional background, I had to put in more time than my classmates in the classroom. I needed to deepen my understanding of the subject through library books, current affairs and politics as well as relevant literature in order to follow the course better. So I simply did business remotely with my previous company in Singapore, and had a three-month internship with a domestic bank. To be honest, I still don't have a clear career plan for the future, but banking is definitely not for me.

Do you have any memorable moments from your placement?

Perhaps because I had four years of work experience after my undergraduate degree, I am a little more calm in dealing with emergencies than my peers. A fellow intern accidentally put a contract that needed to be signed with scrap paper and put it in the shredder the day before it was to be signed, and because we were in the same team, she told me instead of letting the leader know at first. I thought about it and decided to take the initiative and tell her that it was our team's problem and not her fault. That night I asked the group to stay with me and put together the pieces from the shredder. The workload was so heavy that we didn't go home all night, and it wasn't until four in the morning that we were able to put that contract together and reprint and proofread it, finally in time for the signing ceremony scheduled for ten in the morning. I should mention here that even if we had asked for another contract to be sent to China because of the time difference, we would not have been able to do it in time!

Do you have any advice for future students going on?

Be open-minded, talk less and do more, be plain and understandable in your language when talking to colleagues, and prioritise doing what you are capable of doing. There is one more point which, although most people don't quite agree with it, I still want to say: colleagues can never be friends.

Outside of the Lecture Theatre…

What three words would you use to describe Nottingham?

Liveable, relaxed, historical

Where is a good place to eat, drink or visit in the city?

Fox café, The Alchemist, Nottingham castle, the water front, The Wollaton Hall and deep park, The Highfields Park, The Arboretum.

Did you find it easy to make friends and settle in at NTU?

This is probably not a good question for me to answer, as I prefer to be alone. But I guess so, because I know we have the global lounge and many clubs available to students, I used to be part of the photography club and sometimes sign up for the badminton club.

The Next Steps…

Has the employability team helped you plan for life beyond NTU as a postgraduate student?

I haven't contacted the team yet, but I have browsed our university's recruitment website and there are plenty of jobs to choose from, so I hope that I myself will wish all ntu students the best of luck in finding the job of their choice!

What would you say to someone who is thinking of applying to NTU?

Just do it

What is one thing you wish you knew before starting at NTU as a postgraduate student?

It's a very inclusive school where you're sure to learn what you want, lose your lack of confidence, even if it's only one year, even if it's a big task, but believe in yourself, because that's the only way you'll be able to keep moving forward against the pressure! Provided that you really want to come and study

As an International Student...

Why experiences have you had as an international student at NTU?

The coming together of students from all over the world is a very valuable experience

What advice would you give to help new international students get settled in at university?

Try to Join society clubs, and make friends, not just with people from your own country, as long as it doesn't interfere with your studies

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418
Related student profiles
  • Profile icon


    Charles Abe

    International Development


  • Profile icon


    Charlotte Parker

    Security Studies

    United Kingdom

  • Profile icon


    Emmanuel Ibeawuchi Nwamuo

    International Development