[Sponsored Article] A diverse learning environment, the University of Macau (UMacau) draws about a third of its students from outside the territory and offers a range of exchange options for studying overseas. Non-local students come from mainland China and around the globe, while the academic staff come from a mix of backgrounds, making for a rich culture at the institution. Undergraduate student Candy Ka-kei Wu is majoring in electromechanical engineering, a four-year course that is mostly made up of male students. A Macau resident, Wu wanted to study close to home. “UMacau was my first choice because it’s the best university in Macau and there are a lot of choices in what to study. Actually, it’s also the only place to offer electromechanical engineering,” she says. Wu enjoys the general education courses that she can take to supplement her degree. So far, she has taken courses in Spanish, Portuguese, psychology and art. The perfect example of an inquisitive UMacau student, Wu says the general education courses enable her to meet a lot of international students, which she enjoys as she learns about different ways of thinking and studying. Her own course is mostly made up of Macau residents and Mainland Chinese students. Doctoral graduate Jiao Zhang, who is from the mainland, took a Master’s in Law at UMacau, covering international law, European Union law and comparative law and went on to complete a PhD in European Union Law. “Studying international law, I wanted to study in English as that’s a basic requirement and I thought it would broaden my research horizons,” Zhang explains. The distinguished academic staff were also an attraction. These include Professor Lingliang Zeng, former Dean of the Faculty of Law at Wuhan University, Professor Francis Snyder, a well-known expert in EU law and Professor Peter Wesley Smith, former Dean of the Faculty of Law at Hong Kong University. “UMacau is the best choice in Greater China for studying EU law. “There are lots of great resources to support me,” Zhang says. These include the Jean Monnet Programme, an EU-funded research and teaching project. The University also had good connections for aiding her study and building her personal network. Zhang says she had yearned for global experiences and Macau was perfect for her – hailing from Shanghai, she was close enough to home, yet experienced a more Westernised lifestyle and encountered new cultures, while being taught by international staff. “It is different, but I still felt at home. I loved studying at UMacau and I loved living in Macau,” she says. While a scholarship helped Zhang to complete her degrees, she says it was both her study experience and the good international friends she made that will stay with her for life. Foreign exchange also involves study abroad for local students. Wu says she went to Sweden last year, which broadened her horizons. “In Sweden people like things to be simple, so we had to present things very simply, instead of making a big powerpoint presentation. It was really different,” she recalls. The experience taught her the importance of communicating, which is something that can’t be learnt from a book, Wu adds. She also noticed subtle differences between international and local students. “We do a lot of projects and I find we have a different way of thinking sometimes,” she says. For Zhang, the international mix at UMacau is a great advantage, too. “It’s so internationalised. It embraces professors from all over the world and it makes it a great place for organising international conferences which enrich our knowledge and horizons to a great extent,” she says, adding that UMacau can attract notable figures for such events. “There’s respect for cultural diversity, and it’s nice to experience a world that is culturally diversified. We have to maintain this kind of diversity and increase dialogue and communication, so that we can better understand each other, and have a colourful world,” Zhang adds. For Zhang, the most positive aspect of her study experience was the academic support she received and the access she had to a range of strong academic staff. “The University keeps growing and developing. Every year you can see the creation of new policies for improving the management, service or facilities of the University,” she says, praising the purpose-built campus. It is clear that UMacau gives Zhang just the environment she needs to flourish and excel. “I have been awarded Outstanding Academic Achievements by the EU Studies Association in Macau, and Best Writing and a PhD Scholarship for Students Conducting EU Legal Studies offered by the EU Academic Programme in Macau,” she says. Zhang has also achieved second prize in the Graduate Forum on the EU crisis and the EU-China relationship organised by the Centre for the EU Legal Studies of Guangdong International Studies University, and received an Honorable Mention in the Graduate Forum of Asia-Pacific EU Studies Centres Network. “I can’t imagine I would be the person I am now without studying at UMacau. It made me really enjoy study and research and that is what I decided to pursue – teaching and researching,” Zhang adds. For Wu, there is a slightly longer journey ahead. Now participating in the internship programme, Wu can further define what she wants to do next. “I will have to get a license which requires two years of work experience and later I might study overseas so I have a better understanding of how things are done,” she says. But ultimately, she plans to stay in Macau near her family.