"We had no idea of cultures outside of our small world"

Shaun Gibson | Language School at XJTLU | Norwich, UK

People of XJTLU

I grew up in a small market town in the UK where the only foreigners were Vietnamese people running a Chinese restaurant. We had no idea of cultures outside of our small world. So for me, moving to the University of Liverpool (UoL) was like a step to freedom.

While at UoL, besides wanting to learn more about music, I wanted to interact with more people from different places. To me, university is about growing my personality, so I made friends with people from different places across the UK and a few from Europe.

During the first year of completing my masters of Music Industry, while still at UoL, everything changed. Suddenly, many international students, mostly from XJTLU, appeared out of nowhere on campus. I found it very exciting because finally had a chance to get to know people that were completely different from all the people I had known.

Towards the end of my masters, I was working in a local music school where I taught small kids piano and singing. Business was good. Then I suddenly had an epiphany that I could see where my life was heading for the next five years. I was too comfortable and everything was too predictable so I thought what am I going to do?

At that time, I had made many Chinese friends who inspired my interest in Chinese culture and also taught me to sing Chinese songs. I started to perform Chinese songs in local singing competitions. That’s how everything started, musically.”