"As Surrey caters for international students and offers this programme by distance learning, this was a perfect fit."
Why did you choose to come to Surrey?
My undergraduate degree was in Tourism and Hotel Management which I took at Arizona State University in the US. I discovered that the University of Surrey has the best Hospitality Management programme in the UK so I decided to choose Surrey as my first choice for postgraduate study.
However, the pandemic then happened and my parents were concerned about my health if I went to the UK to study on a campus. They wanted me to find an online course and, as Surrey caters for international students and offers this programme by distance learning, this was a perfect fit.
Distance learning at Surrey
The atmosphere of learning at Surrey is very inspiring. From the point of view of distance learning, the professors and staff were very enthusiastic and friendly. They are quick to respond to emails and patiently answer my questions, for example, on how to construct my essays.
On this masters there are many guest speakers from the hospitality sector who share their experience with us. I really loved this kind of practical interaction as it gives you a further insight of the industry, especially as you can’t learn this from a textbook. One of the most impressive guest speakers was Rob Liddiard, who is the co-founder CEO of Yapster, the chat app for retail and hospitality teams. He told us about how he started his business and how to capture investors. Rob also explained how he developed Yapster and why he believes its function is useful. He inspired me to think from the user's point of view.
Why are you passionate about your subject?
"The masters in International Hospitality Management with Digital Innovation is a creative one and the programme helps industry practitioners overcome the hardest times as well as improve customer experience"
Hospitality management is a hot topic in the world, at least in China. China is a big tourism destination and many Chinese tourists travel both abroad and within China every year. However, due to the pandemic, the industry collapsed. The masters in International Hospitality Management with Digital Innovation is a creative one and the programme helps industry practitioners overcome the hardest times as well as improve customer experience.
What do you like about your course?
All the professors and guest speakers are friendly and interesting. Although distance learning is different from being taught face-to-face, I still feel I have gained a lot of knowledge. For example, the digital marketing module gave me an insight into the impact of digital media on consumer behaviour. The technology innovation module explained the life cycle of digital innovation in the industry and how digital initiatives help the industry respond to external forces, such as the pandemic.
A particularly interesting module was the one on hotel operations which provided us with a hotel-simulation program. This let us operate our own hotel and make decisions for each week, just like a hotel manager would.
Do you feel supported at university?
"Although I was not on campus, I still feel the university provided all I needed for my study and I feel that I am a member of the University community"
Yes, I always get help! We use Zoom for online seminars and email for communication. The online textbook system on surreylearn gave me the chance to read both text books and books recommended by the academic staff. The online library allows me to research all the information I need. There were also online tutorials to help us on study skills, such as English language or writing skills.
Given the difference in time zones we live in, the online tutorials are recorded and uploaded to surreylearn for international students to view. Although I was not on campus, I still feel the university provided all I needed for my study and I feel that I am a member of the University community.
What has been your best moment at Surrey so far?
Every moment I was learning at Surrey was great! But the best moment was the virtual Christmas party! The leader of the programme, professors, my classmates and I met via Zoom and we had a Christmas party! We shared our holiday plans and daily life. What’s more, we played an online escape room together which was very interesting!
Do you have any advice for students thinking about online postgraduate study?
"On a practical level, my advice would be to communicate frequently with your professors"
Do not be afraid. Postgraduate study is a process to improve your thinking and your knowledge. It does not matter what you are going to do in your future career, the improvement and knowledge you gain will accompany you all your life. It’s not easy, but it was worth it.
On a practical level, my advice would be to communicate frequently with your professors. You can either send an email to ask questions or make an appointment for an online meeting.
Finally, do you have any other comments you’d like to offer about your time at Surrey?
Although it’s great to study online, I still want to visit Surrey campus one day so I can thank all the Surrey staff and professors who provided a such wonderful learning environment for us students. As an international student, I feel Surrey was concerned about us, and willing to provide extra help. My learning experience was wonderful!