Since moving to Edinburgh from China in autumn 2015, Huanran (Patrick) Sun has been documenting his experiences of the city in photographs and talking to other new international students about their move to Scotland.

Here, we meet Xiaojing (Cindy) Li who is studying for a Masters degree in Advanced Sustainable Design at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). In this short article, she talks about the relevance of the programme to China’s rapid development and what she’s learned from Edinburgh’s own urban growth…

I was born in Jiaxing, one of China’s National Garden Cities and a well-known tourist site. China is developing rapidly, which comes with its own set of worries about environmental and cultural change.

People are really keen on more environmentally-friendly solutions to development, and Europe is quite advanced in its thinking in this area. I studied Landscape Design for my first degree, and came to ECA to do an MSc in Advanced Sustainable Design because of its relevance to what is happening back in my home country.

This year, there are 14 students on the programme and we’re all from different parts of the world. We’ve just finished a five-day field trip to Galashiels and Newcastle. It was great fun; they’re a very easy going and good humoured group.

I live very close to Minto House, where I’m based, which means I’m also very close to the National Museum of Scotland, Calton Hill etc.

I still remember the first time I came here last summer and how much I was drawn by the fantastic skyline of the Old Town from Princes Street. Now, when I have spare time, I like to go out with my sketch book and camera, walk through the Old Town streets, up to the castle, and surrounding hills, enjoying the great views.

The mix of historical and modern elements have widened my view on cities and helped me improve my design. Keep the old and integrate the new, that’s what seems to be working here.

What's your favourite place in Edinburgh and why?

Duddingston. I first came across this part of Edinburgh while walking from the city centre to Portobello. I was totally attracted by the beautiful loch and nature reserve; they’re quite awesome.

What do you like best about studying at ECA?

The variety of facilities, such as studios and workshop spaces.

Where do you live? 

I live in the University’s Richmond Place Apartments, which is quite close to Chambers Street in the city centre. There’s ten of us, and we share a kitchen.

What do you like to do at weekends?

If I’m not relaxing at the Apartments, I’m looking for unique places to take photos and keep active.

Advanced Sustainable Design is a distinctive, design-based programme asking how we can transform our built environment by putting sustainable development into practice. Find out more.