Xinyuan Xu moved from Kunming, China, the “City of Eternal Spring” to the “Bush capital” to study at ANU, and so far she’s had a phenomenal experience.
“This new life in a totally strange environment has been exhilarating, intimidating, sometimes even discouraging, but always challenging – in a good way,” she says.
Xinyuan, who is completing a Master of Digital Humanities and Public Culture (Advanced), describes quiet Canberra, free of distractions, as the most ideal place for diving into study or research. She also affirms the characteristics that she feels makes ANU Australia’s top university.
“With its reputation, academic atmosphere, teaching quality, and the acceptance of multiculturalism – ANU ticked all these boxes for me,” she says.
She has high praise for all her lecturers, but especially her thesis supervisor, Dr Terhi Nurmikko-Fuller, whom she calls “one of the most important people in my life”. Xinyuan worked with Dr Nurmikko-Fuller and an academic from Rio on a research project looking into why people mourn celebrities on social media. She says she “never would have thought I could construct anything like this during my 2 year Master studies”.
Digital humanities is interested in the intersection of technology and humans. It’s a new field, but for a variety of reasons, Xinyuan thinks it can shape the future.
“I am ambitious. I believe digital humanities will equip me with the skills, experiences, and knowledge to be an academic pioneer, and to rise above the rest.”
Already Xinyuan has picked up many diverse skills, from learning methodologies such as Linked Data, using RStudio to collect Twitter data through an API, and much more. Next, she’ll tackle digital mapping in the humanities, and produce 3D digital objects.
Xinyuan is hoping to do a PhD at ANU when she finishes her Masters degree in July 2018, and continue her digital humanities academic life with her supervisor.
“Working on this PhD will provide me with more time and many new opportunities to contribute to this area,” she says.
“When I am old and grey, and look back on my life, I want to be proud of what I have done.”