Annie Ieong’s YCIS Pudong experience began in 2011 when her family moved to Shanghai. Joining in Year 7, Annie spent the entirety of her Secondary education at YCIS Pudong, graduating in 2018 after completing the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. The hustle and bustle of busy city life agrees with Annie, as she went from the sights and sounds of Shanghai to the vibrant English capital, London, where she is studying Philosophy at King’s College London (Class of 2021).
King’s College London is a prestigious British university with a long history and excellent reputation. Can you tell us about your studies?
My major is Philosophy, and my first-year modules include Ethics, Epistemology, Greek Philosophy, Modern Philosophy, Elementary Logic, Metaphysics, Methodology, and Political Philosophy. We have four modules each term, and most of these modules have exams in May and June.
What are you most enjoying learning about?
The modules that I enjoy most are Political Philosophy and Ethics as they require you to express your own philosophical opinion on political or ethical issues. I am motivated by these issues and feel that this expression is an essential outcome of education.
Why did you decide to study at King’s College London and choose your particular major?
Simply put, I think Philosophy explores the most fundamental questions that society faces, and it is fantastic for people who want to solve problems. There are a multitude of reasons behind choosing Philosophy as my major, but as most Philosophy students would say, “I just love it!”
Living in an exciting, metropolitan city is important to me, and I find it very inspiring. I think this is true for quite a lot of Humanities majors, actually, because it provides opportunities to be exposed to the different values and opinions from a diverse group of people in the larger society. King’s also has one of the strongest Philosophy departments in the world.
What do your day-to-day studies entail?
For the current semester (UK second term), I have Mondays off and have classes from Tuesday through Friday. Usually, my week entails 12 hours of total teaching time, which includes a two-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar for each of the four modules. As Arts and Humanities courses require a lot of reading and self-motivated studies, for the rest of the week I can usually be found studying in either the common room in my accommodation or the library. When I need a break, I busily traverse London on the hunt for delicious food!
How did your experience at YCIS help prepare you for the transition to university both academically and beyond the academics?
I have found that studying at the University level requires a great deal of self-motivation, and it is advantageous if you learn how to develop a strong focus and curiosity in order to work in a fast-paced and challenging academic environment. YCIS Pudong prepared me well in terms of these skills; thus, transitioning from Secondary school to university was not as challenging as I expected.
One of the essential skills I took away from doing the IBDP at YCIS Pudong was the ability to prioritise tasks. Another vital skill that I am still adapting is the ability to cope with stress, whilst remaining dedicated to things you have to get done. The last two years of Secondary school certainly helped train me for this.
Do your current studies connect to what you learned at YCIS?
Learning requires accumulative knowledge from all the studies I have done in the past, so my current studies definitely connect to what I learned at YCIS over the years.
What are some of challenges you have faced in moving to a new city?
Getting to know new people has required some careful attention. Being part of a broader community means that you may encounter people from significantly different backgrounds who may hold values with which you do not necessarily agree. Making the right kind of friends can make a huge difference in your adjustment.
How did your past experiences at YCIS help you cope with these challenges?
Being part of a diverse community at YCIS Pudong taught me how to respect others’ cultural backgrounds and values.
What are the most significant differences you have found between living and studying in Shanghai and London?
As both are large and culturally diverse cities, I think the social environments are quite similar. I think the everyday lifestyle you want really depends on you and your preferences. For me, there are few lifestyle differences between living in Shanghai and London.
In terms of my studies, there is an abundance of academic resources in London, allowing you to meet people who are at the top of their fields and giving you the chance to attend different talks every evening if you wish! Personally, I think the overall educational atmosphere is excellent in London.
Where are your classmates from?
I would say that around half of the student body studying Philosophy are from the UK. There is also a large number of international students from all over Europe, the US, and different countries in Asia. The cultural diversity is quite vast.
What do you plan on doing after you graduate?
I am planning on doing a Law conversion course and will hopefully continue my master’s study in Law at King’s College. I am also thinking of doing a PhD in a Philosophy-related field such as Philosophy of Law. However, plans are flexible, and I will have to see what happens in the coming two years.
Are you doing any summer internships, or have you had any other experiences you’d like to share?
I completed a programme at JP Morgan, Hong Kong the summer before university started and it was the first summer programme I’d done. Such programmes are definitely recommended, as aside from being able to witness the everyday functioning of such an esteemed investment bank, it was an excellent opportunity to talk with professional bankers, and to meet a bunch of exciting and brilliant people participating in the programme. No matter if you are interested in the financial field or not, this summer programme provided an outstanding opportunity to learn and to enhance my social skills.
This summer I will be doing two one-month internships at law firms in both Shanghai and Hong Kong.
What do you miss most about Shanghai?
I miss the family-like community we had at YCIS Pudong. It means a lot to me because it was a special period for me, and my classmates and I experienced so much together.
What do you miss most about YCIS?
Although the final year of Secondary school was challenging as we were concerned about our future and also had to finish IBDP, I am glad I was surrounded by a group of people who understood each other well and were on the same page. We had so many fun memories in the IB lounge at Century Park Campus! And, of course, I also miss all of our lovely teachers and the guided studies we did.
Are you in touch with your YCIS classmates?
Yes, of course! I am currently sharing a flat in London with one of my YCIS friends, and another YCIS friend, who is currently studying at Cambridge, frequently comes down to visit us in London, staying in our tiny flat. The YCIS Pudong Class of 2018 graduates are still best friends even after graduation.
Have you returned to Shanghai since graduation?
I haven’t been back to Shanghai since university started, however, I am looking forward to being there next month. I did have the opportunity to catch up with Mr Lee [YCIS Pudong IGCSE Coordinator] when he visited London in March.
Can you please share any advice/suggestions for this year’s Graduands and our other Secondary students to help them prepare for the transition to university?
Get to know yourself better, as knowing where you stand on specific issues is vital. Work as hard as you can – you will never regret this in the future. A final practical tip would be to make sure you apply for your university accommodations sooner rather than later!