The Power of CI Workshops

I chose to study at the University of Greenwich because of its openness, diversity and its excellent quality of education and support for student. Also, the campus is one of the most beautiful sights in London! However, as a foreign student, it was quite daunting and scary jumping into student life. 

Through attending a variety of workshops and support from my teachers, I’ve gained the motivation to successfully overcome obstacles and find my place at the University. 

The cultural insight workshops:

They have taught me how to get out of my comfort zone, make new friends and overall made me feel very welcomed.

It was a great help for my personal growth: building my confidence and meeting new people, I otherwise would not have met.

Looking back to the beginning of the term, when these classes were introduced, I was very excited about them, and others in my group were also interested. However, not many people from my course have attended the workshops. Fast forward to where we are now, I can see what a tremendous help these classes have been to me. Now that I know more people at the campus and have the confidence to approach them, it is much easier for me to motivate them to join those types of workshops.

Looking back to the beginning of the term, when these classes were introduced, I was very excited about them, and others in my group were also interested. However, not many people from my course have attended the workshops. Fast forward to where we are now, I can see what a tremendous help these classes have been to me. Now that I know more people at the campus and have the confidence to approach them, it is much easier for me to motivate them to join those types of workshops.

Cultural Insight workshops were the most interactive and fun out of other workshops I have attended. They offered insightful information and tips on group work, building our self-esteem and student life dynamic in general. Also, each lesson came with a fun activity, which helped in remembering the details of the class itself.

Having gained so many new skills from these workshops, especially the interpersonal skills, I feel more prepared for the job market and working environment. The Cultural Insight workshops have helped me understand more about how to anticipate the needs of others. After reflecting on this experience, I noticed that I became more openminded, a better listener, and have more confidence. These skills make it easier for me to communicate with others.

I have also recognised that it is essential to take care of oneself and be mindful of other people. This brings great satisfaction, is very rewarding and can even create new relationships. Therefore, since, I have exercised my mind more in the angle of thoughtfulness and empathy. Sometimes it is harder than I thought it would be, but at the end of the day, it is absolutely worth it to take a moment and reflect.

If I had to describe the Cultural Insight project in just three words, they would be Inclusive, fun and mind-opening.

These workshops have been very educational and a lot of fun, so I would like to thank the Cultural Insight team for putting all of the materials together for us. I am looking forward to next year’s series of Cultural Insight Workshops.

Magdalena Rokosz, a student from a small town in Poland called Rzeszow who has just completed her 1st year of Human Resource Management. She has lived in many big cities but was charmed by London the most! She is excited about the endless opportunities the city has to offer and cannot wait to join the job market and further study a master’s degree. In her free time, she enjoys reading science fiction, watching documentaries and long walks.

Get Involved!

Studying in a country that is not the one where you come from can be both exciting and nervous: the only action of thinking about living in London can build up a lot of expectations in our mind that sometimes are satisfied but, they can also lead to other unexpected roads. In any case, it is good to always have faith on what life brings you up to and be ready with the plan B! (Get ready plan C as well, just to be sure). This is quite normal in a such a big city, as London, where things can constantly change. I would describe what I tended to follow during my first year, as a sort of Mantra: GET INVOLVED! 

Iris says GET INVOLVED has been her Mantra during her first year of study. She adds saying, one of the greatest roads she had taken when trying to GET INVOLVED, was to participate in many workshops, specifically Cultural Insight workshops.

It doesn’t really matter if you are a new or continuing student, I would strongly advice you to take the chance to know more about yourself and about specific topics. 

Especially during the cultural insight workshops, I had the opportunity to make many friends like Kristina, Djeylan, Abed, Magda and Vineeta, just to mention some, share my thoughts with them and get to know their opinions. It has to be underlined that not only first year students attended to the workshops but, all years were welcomed, and this made such a good environment as the plethora of experiences was even more vast!

What I really like of this general atmosphere is that I never ever felt judged by any of the tutors (which were different all the times) or from any of the students; this is something amazing. We build a relationship with individuals we never met before, by embracing each other with our inner versions of the selves. 


And, if you want to know some more benefits, please continue reading!

The first workshop was called ‘Your Voice-Your Community’. I have to admit it, I felt that I had to go just by reading the title and I did not regret my attendance. Via some tests and different types of games, we discovered our learning techniques and so, what we are good at and what we could do to improve ourselves. The only though that YOU matter, as an individual and/or as a friend is a powerful motivation that can actually change your mindset and the way you react to certain life situations. 

The first workshop was called ‘Your Voice-Your Community’. I have to admit it, I felt that I had to go just by reading the title and I did not regret my attendance. Via some tests and different types of games, we discovered our learning techniques and so, what we are good at and what we could do to improve ourselves. The only thought that YOU matter, as an individual and/or as a friend is a powerful motivation that can actually change your mindset and the way you react to certain life situations

I discovered that I am very good at learning via both interpersonal (interacting with others) and through the intrapersonal (own inner states) intelligences.

However, each person has different skills and yet everyone can improve and develop their learning style in different ways!

Moving forward, I remember the workshop that was on the day of my birthday and, yes, I did not care, I wanted to be there!!! It was named ‘Global Dexterity’

In 2020, when people meet others commonly on digital platforms, it is always a great opportunity to make a friend without any research from their Facebook or Instagram profiles but, just by looking and listening to them. This way we do not make opinions of a person from what they look like on their social media. 

After knowing the names of the participants, we were asked to choose a poem in our native language and read it aloud. At first, I could see some who were pretty confident and some other, like me, very scared to read in front of other people. We all made it and we did not even realize it.

Once again, something amazing happened: the choice of the poem, the intonations we gave to it while reading, the explanation we compose in order for others to understand our choice, everything together told others something about ourselves.  

I hope this can encourage everyone to GET INVOLVED! There are many opportunities ready to be taken, we just need a bit of courage to straight our hand and grab them. 

Iris Pirrigheddu is an Italian student doing the 1st year of Marketing Management. She is a very curious person and finds that the opportunity to explore London is amazing! She is delighted to share many more thoughts so she says feel free to dm her on instagram linked below

My Student Life at the University of Greenwich

My name is Xingyu, a sophomore from China. My major is Politics & International Relations. As most Chinese students choose to major in business, there are no other Chinese students in my study circle.

I initially knew little about western singers, movies or food, and so I found it difficult for me to fit in with Europeans because of cultural and language differences.

I do have some other good international friends, but they are not from China. I have realised that they all have their own families and jobs, so we seldom get to communicate with each other except for study purposes. However, as our major has a Mandarin course option, I have been able to make some friends who have chosen to study Mandarin. I’ve also created a Mandarin Group on WhatsApp to assist those wishing to study and improve their Mandarin, and also to help learn about Chinese culture.

In terms of study, when I first entered university, the difference in language and learning methods was a big challenge to me. I found it difficult to take notes, look up materials in the library, and write references and so on, despite my English language skills. However, after a year’s study, I feel I have adapted and relaxed into the British way of learning pretty well.

However, perhaps due to my natural introversion, I still find there are some problems in my communications. For example, I was also quite afraid of creating and participating in presentations. However, these problems have much improved since taking part in the Cultural Insight Workshops.

Cultural Insight Workshops

By chance, I found the project Cultural Insight and decided to participate in their workshops, with the significant purpose of making friends.

The aim of the project is to help foreign students integrate into British culture and improve their personal skills in study, work or social interaction and I have now attended three workshops altogether.

The first workshop was structured to help students understand British culture and life.

After taking part in the first activity, I was able to share this learning with one of my Italian classmates.

She has told me that she also found the workshop both interesting and useful.

The second workshop was designed to help students understand how to fit into a genuinely multicultural community.

It also taught ways to make friends quickly in a multicultural society.

The workshop also taught how to use LinkedIn to create our own social circles.

The third workshop was structured to help students improve their communication skills and how to fully and better express ideas.

These workshops were all interspersed with some interesting activities, such as teamwork with Lego, to make the workshops more interesting and engaging.

The programme of Cultural Insight workshops has been limited, but they have still enabled me to gain a lot of knowledge that I could not easily assimilate. It has definitely helped me improve my interpersonal and personal skills and also equip me to better adapt to and integrate into British culture.

In short, I have enjoyed and benefitted from the workshops on Cultural Insight.

Xingyu Liu is a Chinese international student pursuing an undergraduate degree in Politics and International Relations. She came to London after graduating from high school. She is taking beginners, Spanish classes. During her free time, she likes learning and practising Latin Dance and Ballroom Dance for dance competitions. She is a proud owner of two cats and enjoys taking care of them. She plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Chinese Studies upon graduation.

My experience with Cultural Insight Workshops

If I had to describe Cultural Insight workshops in three words I would definitely choose – interesting, exceptional and valued. I must say I signed-up because my classmates, who later became my good friends suggested that we go all together to get GEP points and meet new people. It was less than a month while I was studying at university, but I’ve heard of GEP points a lot and decided it would be really good for my future to try something like this. I signed up and kinda forgot about it so when I got the reminder, I thought I do not want to go but because of my responsibility I went and was not disappointed at all. 


First things first, when I came into the room where the first workshop took place, it instantly felt so warm, as if I was back home and then it became even better. I must say I love attention and when one of our workshop tutors was talking with me and about me it felt even more better. I believe that the topics for these workshops were amazingly suitable for students and their individualities. The first one called ‘Your voice – Your community’ was one of my favourites. The idea that you matter as an individual just as much as society in whole is really important. Some people forget that they have right and voice and I believe that workshops like that could be provided for more students to show them that they matter. 

My most favourite topic was ‘Global Dexterity’ and that is because of only one thing. We were reading poems in our native languages. This was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. Because I come from a small country, I could not hear many languages in my everyday life and there is it… You are sitting on a chair in a circle and people around you stand up and start reading some gorgeous pieces which are their favourites. You can understand them not even knowing the language.

Emotions, intonation, pauses, softer and louder moments, all this helps you truly understand the person on the whole new spiritual level. You understand that you live in this moment and it is beautiful.


The whole atmosphere of workshops was so good, and I could honestly see the interest of our tutors. It is exceptional when people are so interested in what they do. I want to thank them for making this project because I found a lot of new information and now can better understand myself and those people around me. It will definitely help me in achieving new amazing heights. Thank you!!! 

If I could return to October, I would probably tell everyone to come and join the Cultural Insight family. I found new people who became my friends, new information about different topics and new thoughts and views. If you read till the end, I strongly encourage you to sign up for all CI workshops in a new academic year, you will not regret it!

Kristina Pazekova (Tina) is from a small country Estonia. Her hometown is Tallinn and she always wanted to move to a bigger country.  This is the reason she chose London and the UK overall. Tina finished ballet school so she really enjoys dancing when she is free. Tina also enjoys cooking, reading and watching movies. Cinema world is her passion and this is why she and her classmate created a new society called ’Cinematheque’. Although Tina is studying Marketing management, she attempts to try herself as an actress in short movies. In the near future, she would love to create her personal Instagram blog and also try some modelling.

My thoughts on attending CI workshops

Click to hear Yujia’s experience with CI workshops

I like to say that this project is relaxing, inspiring and friendly. I would like to take my best friend to a workshop to experience the love as she is a really nice person who suffers from low self-esteem and confidence.


This Vlog is authored by Yujia Qian, a final year student studying in BA(Hons) Business with Finance. Yujia is into rap and k-pop music. She also enjoys dancing in her free time. Yujia is ready to pursue a Master’s degree in marketing upon finishing her first degree. 

Cultural Insight 2018-19 project won an award!

The Cultural Insight team’s 18-19 project is highly commended for Paul Webley Award for Innovation in International Education!

Led by Dr Crystal Tsay, Dr Yang Yang, and Dr Jing Luo, and supported by two PhD students Jingwen Qu and Sen Wang, the Cultural Insight project team designed and delivered five bespoke workshops to develop Chinese Direct Entry (CDE) students’ psychological and social capital, enabling them to use personal and social resources to cope with cross-cultural learning challenges, such as learning the UK Higher Education (HE) system, homesickness, isolation, and social integration.

The review panel commented:

“I’d also like to give a highly recommended to the Greenwich project which I think for me was probably the best read but also had some brilliant outcomes and realisations. It challenges sector, and indeed their own, assumptions that Chinese students need ‘different’ support and actually transitioning to HE is difficult for many students, including those from the UK “In retrospect, what the project team offered to CDEs was actually support for learners who attend the UKHE for the first time without sufficient skills and confidence to develop resources to become independent and resilient learners.”

The project funder, UK Council for International Student Affairs said the project and the issues it dealt with is currently extremely relevant in the sector with the OfS, rightly, examining attainment and participation gaps between POLAR/IMD, BAME, disabled students and the importance of transition into HE. They were also delighted to see that the immediate impact of this project. That is, University of Greenwich supported the team this year to continue the bespoke workshop provision to a wider range of students, including students from all cultural backgrounds and at all HE levels.

The final report can be accessed from the UKCISA website.

Author: Dr Crystal Tsay

Acting Outside Your Comfort Zone

How many times have you heard from friends, teachers, parents, colleagues, or bosses, telling you to get out of your comfort zone? How many times have you told yourself to do so?

On 15th January, 2020, 23 Greenwich students from Faculty of Business, Faculty of Education and Health, and Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences got out of their comfort zone by attending the Cultural Insight workshop 4. Together, they identified common challenges among students in areas of university, work, and personal life. These include

Students brainstormed situations where they wanted to get out of the comfort zone
DomainChallenging situation
·      Deliver public speaking (or a presentation), especially when English is not my native language;
·      Go on stage/ talk in front of the class
·      Understand the UK Higher Education and its expectations towards students
·      Work in a group and communicate well with other group members
·      Share my ideas more and speak up in group project
Do something I am not good at (e.g. academic writing) or I haven’t done before (e.g. make international friends)
• Attend extra-curriculum activities
• Talk to people I do not know at a networking event
• Get involved in workshops that can improve our employability skills, e.g. BSEO workshops
Work ·      Get a degree-related job
·      Attend a job interview in a non-traditional format, e.g. phone or video interview
·      Begin a new job in an unfamiliar environment
·      Take on a new job role (e.g. group leader, project manager)
·      Promote myself to my boss
·      Ask for promotion or pay rise
·      Speak to colleagues with a higher rank (e.g. managers)
·     Deal with difficult colleagues
Personal ·      Ask someone for a date or just to go out
·      Do something that I don’t used to do, e.g. going out at night, speak to a stranger, stop using mobile phone/ take a break from social media, be alone
·      Be more self-disciplined, e.g. go to the gym, do exercise 5 times a week
·      Ask for help
·      Eat alone in public
·      Travel to a country where people do not speak my mother tongue or English
·      Learn a different language
·      Explain my culture/language to someone who knows little about it
·      Make new friends
·      Tell someone something he/she might not aware (e.g. loose zip or tissue under their shoes)
·      Refuse a gift
·      Give negative feedback
·      Make important life decisions
·     Stand firmly for my own rights and onions
Students presented challenging situations by different life domains

Based on Dr Andy Molinsky’s work <<Reach: How To Build Confidence And Step Outside Your Comfort Zone>> , there are five psychological challenges that stop people from taking a move to go outside their comfort zone. These challenges often lead to negative emotions, which further drive us to use different avoidance strategies, such as procrastination, full on avoidance, doing the task partway, or passing the buck.

Psychological challenge Common thinking Associated emotions
Authenticity“This isn’t me at all.”Exhaustion
Confidence“I am not good at this behaviour, and it’s obvious to others.”Embarrassment
Likability “Doing this will make people not like me” or “ I worry how people may look at me” Anxiety
Resentment  “I shouldn’t have to be doing this behaviour in the first place.” Frustration
Morality “This behaviour isn’t something ‘I should be doing’” Anxiety

Through self-assessments and group discussions, workshop participants identified their own primary psychological challenges and shared tips that they’ve used to take a leap based on Dr Molinksy’s three strategies, personal conviction, customisation of behaviour, and clarity development. For example,

Strategy 1: Conviction– A deep belief in the purpose of what you’re doing. It can be improving your own lot in life or helping others.

Strategy 2: Customise one’s behaviour– putting your own personal touch or spin on behaviours you’re trying to master. Tools can be used include acting, customising the words you use, customising your body langue, customising the timing, using props, and customising the context.

Strategy 3: Clarity development– the ability to “normalise” your reactions and perceptions of a situation so that distorted thinking doesn’t sabotage your behaviour. You can achieve clarity by stepping away, referring to yourself in the third person, practising self-reflection, and finding clarity through someone else’s eyes.

Students self-assessed psychological challenges of getting outside comfort zone

Extended Learning

  1. Procrastination: Tim Urban- Inside The Mind Of A Master Procrastinator
  2. Acting to customise your behaviour: Amy Cuddy- Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are
  3. Seeking clarity in own situation: Dale Carnegie- How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

Author: Dr Crystal Tsay

When communication at Greenwich is not just effective, but also poetic…

When I watched the new movie “Frozen II” last weekend, I most enjoyed Olaf Gets Poetic Scene.

Image result for frozen 2 poetic"

Anna: Enjoying your new permafrost, Olaf?
Olaf: I’m just living the dream, Anna. Oh, how I’d wish this could last forever.
Anna: Hm.
Olaf: And yet change mocks us with her beauty.
Anna: What’s that?
Olaf: Forgive me. Maturity is making me poetic.

Yes, Maturity is making all of us poetic. In our 3rd Cultural Insight workshop, we have not just discussed psychological theories and communication skills in global context. We have shared poems by reading them aloud in our first language.

What insights have we gained out it? Hmmm… We thought we would learn this…

Yet, we actually learnt that when we try to communicate something so beautiful and so deep in its meanings, what we say made us put our nerve down and just enjoy the joy of communicating such a beautiful thing to others.

Here are some poem sharing videos and some poems shared by our lovely attendees.

This 3rd workshop and the blog are both created and delivered by our project team member Dr. Yang Yang

Positive attitude and the importance of relationships

One of the significant topics of the workshop was the importance of connection. This includes external relationships with other people, and the personal connection with oneself.

 “Embracing community helps us live longer and happier”

It is necessary to meet other people to sustain a strong social life, and this workshop helps to do this. It offers conversational starters for any situation and the opportunity to meet a range of new people.

The workshop highlights the importance of those around us in helping to manage stress, and how vital it is to discuss our struggles with others. There is a key focus on community and projecting our voice, to connect to others and develop our own emotional intelligence.

The activities presented in the workshop help students to improve not only their interpersonal skills and confidence, but also their intrapersonal skills. To develop confidence in their own abilities and interests is essential in understanding oneself. In order to be confident, we must not only accept our own strengths and weaknesses but also those of others. The workshop encourages teamwork rather than competition between students to maintain a positive attitude and fulfilling relationships.


Leanne Pitt  (BA English Literature, Year 2)