Yongshan He

Yongshan He

Yongshan He

PhD Candidate, East Asian Studies


“The faculty members I’ve met at U of T are all very friendly, so don’t be shy.”

I’m a PhD student in the Department of East Asian Studies [EAS], studying the material culture of pre-modern China. My undergraduate education was in China while I earned my MA at McMaster University. After my master’s I worked as a journalist for a few years before getting into the PhD program. Following graduation, I aspire to continue researching and teaching in an academic institution.

The EAS department at U of T is highly reputed, in part because of its close connection with the Royal Ontario Museum, known for its large collections of Chinese artifacts.  My supervisor, Dr. Chen Shen, is both a professor in the department and a senior curator at the Museum. Thus, I have the hands-on experience of working with him at the ROM, which few other institutions in North America can provide.

The EAS faculty members are very friendly: I have learned a lot from them not only through taking courses, but also from their advice ranging from proposal writing to career planning.

Toronto is a vibrant city, with the St. George campus immersed in its cultural landscape, conveniently located downtown, surrounded by museums, art galleries, and good restaurants. The campus resources I found most useful were the libraries, Graduate Centre for Academic Communication, and the Athletic Centre, where I swim regularly.

When considering graduate school, you not only choose a PhD program but also an environment under which you are going to spend five years of your life. It is important to get to know as much as possible about the faculty, about your prospective supervisor, about the facilities, and the city. The faculty members I’ve met at U of T are all very friendly, so don’t be shy. Talk to or email them to discuss your interests. If possible, come to the campus to meet the faculty and students here and visit the libraries or other facilities that you might use extensively for graduate studies. This way, you will be able to know better whether it is a good match for you.