Okay – so there are a few questions I keep getting about my recent move to China and me starting my studies at Renmin University of China; most of them revolving around the why, what and how of the whole thing. I thought it might be appropriate to answer some of those recurrent questions – as best I can, granted that I myself find it quite unbelievable that I am really here! And of course, I’ll tell you all about my experience at the university so far.
What am I doing in China, you might ask? – I am following a non-degree programme on Chinese Language and Literature at Renmin University of China. The programme consists of intensive language and grammar classes and also comes with perks, like fun cultural activities, exchange opportunities – like the “Buddy Program” and affordable travel options around the country – I am vastly improving my Chinese language skills and having loads of fun at the same time!
Why I chose to come here, can be boiled down to something as simple as my interest in Chinese language and culture – and the fact that I was offered a Scholarship to come here. I am motivated to improve my Chinese language skills in preparation for taking a bachelor’s degree in Chinese at the University of Copenhagen. Hence I am of course extremely pleased to get to live and study here for 6 months!
Of course placing myself in a position to be granted a scholarship to a prestigious school in China was just as much about my own engagement in Chinese learning and deliberately working towards it, as it was about luck – simply being in the right place at the right time can make all the difference in life. I could definitely write up a guide to the Confucius Scholarship Program, for anyone interested. I didn’t find much help or guidance online during my own application process.
So, how is it?
Let me put it this way, Beijing has 11.5 million citizens and just as many ways to answer the question “how is it” – so far, I can say that it is amazingly beautiful and ugly and ordinary and extraordinary. Beijing is so many things at once, it all depends how you choose to approach your experience here! For me, these first couple of weeks have been overwhelming, but also fun and light hearted. I have enjoyed lots of shopping and sight-seeing and have generally been spending my time connecting with classmates and meeting new Chinese friends.
Now, at the beginning of the first week of school, I am excited to be settling into a daily rhythm and start learning for real! At the same time, I am also starting to realize how much is actually expected of university students – I can see why choosing to have my start of college life abroad may seem a bit wild to some. Keeping up with language courses in university is a lot of work! As a friend jokingly pointed out about my new found studious and disciplined self; “they’re called A-sians, not B-sians” referring to the stereotype of a hard working Chinese student.
Although it is indeed a lot of work, I spent several hours studying today as opposed to practically never studying during high school, I am enjoying my language learning as much as ever! This is after all one of my biggest interests, and I want to do as well as I can while I am here.
Until next time – 加油！
Side note: My boyfriend suggested I call this article “Short but not short sighted – the daily life in Beijing” – because I’m only 5 feet tall. He thought it would be a funny punchline. Thanks, bae. On the other hand, I might indeed be persuaded to make a post about the daily life of a foreign student in Beijing.