A Journey of Self Discovery

The Department of Art and Design in Northeastern University’s College of Arts, Media and Design endeavors to deliver an experiential education that transforms its students into multidimensional professionals equipped with the skills to succeed in a world that continues to change and challenge. In the school year of 2018-2019, Catherine Ma, who is currently a G12 BIBS student, will become one of these proud and talented members of the Northeastern University’s student community. We wish Catherine all the best in her future endeavors and continuing journey of self-discovery in a foreign land. She happily shares with us her learning and exploration journey at BIBS and tips for young BIBSers.

Q:You joined our BIBS family with your younger sister three years ago. Why did you change school and why did you choose BIBS?

Catherine:When I was still in middle school, my family had already decided that I would pursue an international undergraduate study in the future.  But my parents thought I was too young to go immediately abroad for a middle school study.  So they considered going to an international school in China a good bridge and preparation.We indeed visited a number of candidate schools.  We finally picked BIBS because it offers a balance international curriculum and programs that focused on our Chinese heritage.  My parents value strongly our history, culture and identity.  They wanted us to remember our cultural identities and values wherever we go in the future.

Q:How did you find your transition at BIBS? Did you have any challenges? 

Catherine :Frankly, BIBS was quite different from my old middle school.  The teachers here never solely pushed us to focus on studies and tests. Instead, they strongly encouraged us to think about whom we want to be and what we love to do.  The whole school and the community encouraged us to try new things and to develop new skills.  In my three BIBS years, I participated and engaged myself in a variety of school activities and learned to work with students and teachers from all over the world. Every single day, I explored about the world around me and discovered more about myself and what I enjoyed learning. This has been of crucial importance in shaping who I am today.

Q:This is wonderful!  Many Chinese people never have the privilege like yours to be able to think independently and actually know what they want at such a young age. 

Catherine:Indeed, I felt I have been extremely lucky.  It was at BIBS that I discovered that visual arts are my true passion and I would never ever get tired in working on visual arts creation. It was at BIBS that I found out that visual arts are so much more than just painting.  It involves intellectual and cultural heritage, uses multiple skills and media, and reveals ideas and thoughts that inspire.  There are so much more out there for us to explore and to express. I am really excited about the prospects and look forward to my new creative journey at the Northeastern University.

Q:We’ve heard that you scored full marks in SAT math and 1,400 in the total SAT score.  Your TOEFL score is 105. Any tips in preparing for these tests? 

Catherine:At BIBS, it is up to us to plan, manage and make decisions about our learning and life. Of course we have the full support of the teachers and school. But we needed to be responsible for our own decisions and actions.  We have been motivated to rise to challenges every day.As for preparing for SAT and TOEFL tests, my advice is “there is no short cut!”

Focus on your practice tests. Read as diligently as possible. Study the vocabulary carefully and write as many practice essays as possible.  If you really want to write and speak like an advanced EAL learner, read a great deal of good English writings and learn from these native speakers about how skillful writers present the information in an impressive way.  It takes time but it is definitely worth the effort.