Having graduated from BEng Architecture of Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in 2019, Yang Di praises XJTLU for providing her with valuable learning experience with its lively academic atmosphere, diverse academic staff, and excellent facilities. Currently, she is an architectural assistant at Foster+Partners in London.

Yang has conducted research in the countryside, been to Italy for exchange studies, assisted publishing a book, and published academic papers in international journals. How could she gain such rich experience at XJTLU? Let's hear her answers.

Exhibition of Norman Foster at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, 2022

Q: Why did you choose to study at XJTLU? What are the advantages of studying architecture here?

A: Among all the institutions I've studied at, XJTLU has the best facilities. Each student has plenty study space belongs to themselves. We have a lot of different workshops supported by professional technicians.

The academic staff of the Department of Architecture is very international and diverse, which allows the graduates adjust to international architecture institutions smoothly if they choose further study. Besides, not only could the teachers calm me down when I felt anxious, their passion for architecture often impressed me and motivated me to study.

XJTLU has an active learning atmosphere and abundant resources related to the real industry. I was exposed to many architecture-related social activities, such as research projects, lectures and so on, which benefited me a lot.

Final review of final year project, 2019

Q: How did you explore your interests and find your future study or career path at XJTLU?

A: In my Year 1 and 2, I joined the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) projects with Dr Yiping Dong. It was the first time for me to experience what it was like to participate in an academic project on cultural heritage preservation and conduct field research in the countryside.

During the two summer holidays, I went to Dongyang Village in Zhejiang Province to see the records of rural conservation and construction. I learned cave-dwelling construction in Datong, Shanxi Province, and went to Dongshan Village in Suzhou to study the living conditions of the local villagers. Through these interesting experiences, I was exposed to the way of doing architectural academics at the early stage of my study.

In Year 3, I was one of the first batch of students to exchange to the Politecnico di Torino in Italy. I had the chance to experience the Italian style of teaching which puts more emphasis on lectures and group collaboration. In my opinion, this teaching style is more suitable for science and engineering disciplines, whereas the design courses at XJTLU under the British education system highlights the cultivation of individual qualities. This is also why I chose the UK for my postgraduate studies later on.  

Yang Di as an exchange student in Italy, 2017

After returning to China from Italy, I assisted my teacher as a student editor in publishing the book New Chinese Architecture: 20 women building the future, published by Thames & Hudson.

After graduation, I participated in the Architecture Across the Boundaries Academic Conference organised by the Department of Architecture, and published my first academic paper. The same year, by the recommendation from teachers at the Department, I published a paper on building surfaces based on my final year project in Urban Corpolis, an Italian architecture magazine. At the same time, my final year project was recommended by the Department to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to compete for the Bronze Award.

To me, the Department of Architecture at XJTLU offered a variety of activities that I have not experienced anywhere else, which nourished me hugely. Architecture is a discipline that requires a lot of experience. I am always grateful for the opportunities offered by XJTLU, and I’m continuously exploring the directions that I’m interested in.

Q: How is your experience of further study or career after graduating from XJTLU? What skills or abilities you acquired at XJTLU are the most helpful?

A: After graduation, I went to work at TM STUDIO in Shanghai and STUDIO QI in Hangzhou for a year, where I experienced the working atmosphere of the domestic architecture industry. In the same year, I applied for the master’s programme at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. After graduating in 2022, I joined Foster+Partners in London as an architectural assistant, which has been over a year now.

Foster+Partners is a large international architecture company with a very competitive working environment. Nevertheless, XJTLU has prepared me well for the abilities of doing presentations and working independently.

XJTLU offered me the opportunity to truly become a global citizen. It is the reason that I’m able to study and work in a foreign country, as well as have an open mindset both in life and career.

Di Yang in University College London

Q: What advice would you like to give to the current students?

A: First, take advantage of the state-of-the-art facilities as much as possible and explore the different ways of creating your own design. Second, participate in the activities and social practice opportunities provided by the Department, which are tailored for us.

Besides, learn to deal with stress and resist unnecessary anxiety. Take care of your physical and mental health, because the way you deal with stress will continue to your future study and career life.

By Yi Qian

Translated by Xiaoke Li

Edited by Yi Qian

Photos courtesy of Yang Di

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