Alumni of the Month November 2007

Andy Janz (2001 International Relations)

1. How did you get to where you are now?

aom_Andy Janz By taking the road less travelled and grabbing opportunities where they arose. Generally being a curious person also may have helped. I came to China three years ago and until this summer worked in a big 4 star Hotel in Xi'an (pronounced She-An), the home city of the Terracotta Warriors. At the same time I studied Chinese at Xi'an Jiaotong University. This summer I left the hotel in order to intensify my studies, particularly to improve my Chinese reading and writing. In addition to studying I am currently teaching part-time in the Xi'an Jiaotong University School of Management.

2. What has been your biggest achievement so far?

Living and thriving in a culture (China) that in its values and lifestyle is in many ways completely different to the 'western' way of life. By having worked and studied here for the last few years I feel I have gained a pretty unique insight into a very unique and fascinating place. Speaking Chinese has opened many doors that would have remained closed otherwise.

3. And your biggest mistake?

I don't tend to look back a lot but I do somewhat regret that I didn't learn to speak more Chinese before I got here. On the other hand, I have since had the opportunity to really immerse myself in the language, both at work and at university.

4. What are your ambitions now?

I am planning to return to Britain within the next two years and want to share my insights, experience and skills with people who themselves are professionally dealing with or are planning to deal with China.

5. What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?

Be patient and try to experience culture shock as something positive.
Understanding takes time and open eyes.

6. What made you choose Keele University?

I came to Keele on Open Day in March 1998 and was impressed by the diversity of students as well as the warm welcome that Dr Mathew Paterson (who unfortunately has since left SPIRE) gave us. The campus had an intimate and welcoming, yet somewhat unconventional feel about it. I liked that a lot.

7. How has Keele influenced your life?

It was a very formative experience in terms of developing my own view of the world. The School of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy is an excellent place to study. Despite their high profile, the teachers always remained accessible and interested in their students' work and academic progress. On the non-academic side, I made some very, very good friends at Keele.

8. What is your favourite memory of Keele?

Spending graduation day with my parents. And a very merry pre-Christmas dinner with my flatmate and some other friends. We still talk about this dinner today.

9. And your worst?

Arriving back at Stoke-on-Trent bus-station on a wintry rainy Sunday night after holidaying abroad.

10. Anything else you would like to add?

I haven't been back to Keele since I graduated and am looking forward to a visit next spring. I wonder how much the place has changed.