Daisy (Shuang) Wu
MSc (Research) in Social Work 2018
Before coming to Edinburgh University, I was studying as an undergraduate student in Chengdu University of Technology, China. I worked hard and hard, ranked second among 76 students, then I had the chance to come here. I thought I was so lucky!
When I was an undergraduate student, my major was Public Administration, which is a mix of Management and Social Science. We had so many different courses and it also meant that we had more choices when pursue a further studying. Some of my classmates continued studying like me, but in Business or Management. I can image that I would be unhappy if I chose Business, which is indeed popular currently. I just wanted to follow my heart - social work!
Coming to Edinburgh, I found that Edinburgh is a quiet city, not like big cities such as London and Manchester. I think personally it is a good place to study, but I did not expect that it would be so cold during the winter … my Chinese classmates liked to say that Edinburgh just has two seasons - one is winter, the other feels like winter!
The most unforgettable things for me were the people here - my supervisor, my classmates. It was all absolutely meaningful. I learned so many new things, both academic and day-to-day. I now realise how much I don’t know; I am anxious that there is a much bigger social science world than I have never seen.
The most interesting course I studied this year was a course on the subject of ‘reflexivity’ in qualitative research. I had never heard this word when I was in China, and there is little information about how to translate it into Chinese. I initially found it hard to understand reflexivity because it is embedded in different cultures. I also learned a lot at Edinburgh about qualitative research. In China, we are taught how to conduct social research, but almost all the research courses are quantitative, such as learning how to design a valid questionnaire, or how to choose your sample using a quantitative approach. So when I came to Edinburgh, my impressions of qualitative research were that it was not a good research method, because too much time would have to be spent conducting an interview or a focus group, as compared with quantitative methods which can be completed in a short time. But later I realized that – wow! - qualitative research can be so vivid! I have used the word ‘vivid’ deliberately, because it is not just a stiff procedure (i.e. collect and then analyse data), but a more complex way to find out from your informants, to really get to the heart of what matters most to them. In my opinion, what happens is an interaction between the researcher and the respondents….it is not only the data itself….more importantly, it is about the further details behind the original data.
I have to say the most important person in my life this year was my supervisor. I could tell so many stories! Initially, I was shy because she was my supervisor - you know, it would be impossible in China that your supervisor might become your friend, but I think we did it. I respect Viv because of her rich experience, both academic and daily life, and Viv told me she also learned something from me through sharing stories with each other. Anyway, it was an enjoyable process, I had the chance to enter into Viv’s world. The most important thing that I learned from her is that no matter who you are, you can learn something from others and also others can learn something from you – so it is important to be modest, and at the same time be confident.
I will continue study in the field of child social work and I am intent on becoming a social worker. I am sure I will meet new people, listen to new stories and help each other; one thing I can expect now is continuing to study and learn from others until you are older and older…….
I’d like to end by saying something about the situation here in China. China has developed greatly in recent years, so it is now time that the whole country should pay more attention to disadvantaged groups, which means that China needs more professional social workers in the future. But the situation is terrible: in universities, at least in my university, there are no professional people with a social work background, and it is difficult for us to gain the relevant reading materials. Also in society as a whole, there are few professional social workers and no-one really knows who or what social workers are. This is a changing world now and this is absolutely a turning point for China. I hope more and more Chinese young people can join us, and change social work in China!
Source: Own contribution, 1st October 2018