Studying in China gives an opportunity to gain first-hand insights about the country

By Evans Opoku-Mensah
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Beijing Review, November 11, 2021
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I have been a doctoral student in the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC) since 2017. My study in China gives me the opportunity to explore a China different than the one I've learned from TV and books. What happens in the university and in the larger society has always been interesting to me. As I learned that this year is the centenary of the founding of the Communist of China, it reminded me that I have been to China for several years, and inspired me to share my own experiences in China.

How should I describe the invaluable experiences China has brought to me? The question got me thinking and reminiscing. As Confucius said, wherever you go, you've got to go with all your heart, and the more a man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will his world be and the world at large. My curiosity about this great nation and love for technology fueled my passion to discover more. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to get my doctorate in China. I am never distracted by the negative comments from friends based on the news. I am very happy with my decision to come to study here.

However, things didn't go as well as I had expected in the beginning. The first hurdle to jump was the Chinese language. When I arrived in China, I felt lonely and was not able to speak or understand the language. Although the language barrier was a big worry, I felt relieved when a Chinese lady offered to help me when I was in need. This impression of the values of Chinese people was reaffirmed by a Confucius saying I learnt later, which says: At home, a young man should be a good son, when outside, he should treat others like his brothers, his behavior should be trustworthy, and he should love the multitude at large and keep himself close to people of benevolence and morality.

Later on, I saw a rich display of culture and ingenuity during the Spring Festival celebrations. The decorative dragons, which symbolize power, uniqueness and authority, and the brand new look of old and traditional buildings were all heartwarming. Never have I encountered a nation so united in beliefs and culture.

Some numbers such as six and colors like red are believed to be lucky by Chinese people. While uttering "six six six" is considered a bad thing in my culture and belief, the chanting of the number "six" three times by a Chinese person is seen as an admiration of dexterity and excellence, and a wish for good luck.

In day-to-day life, I was impressed by China's innovation in transportation systems, which is worth emulating by other countries, shared bicycles and electric motor bikes in particular. This not only eases traffic but even helps students commute between far-off classrooms on campus. Also, China is one of the countries with the largest number of smartphone users. Internet is commonly available and used everywhere, unlike in Africa where it is expensive and a luxury. It is sometimes jokingly said that the phone is the sixth sense for every Chinese. This is because most Chinese have all their world on their mobile phones and are literally glued to them.

While remembering all the benefits and great experiences I've had in China, I think China has also benefited from opening up to the world. Chinese people get to know different races they interact with, understand diverse cultures and gain a huge economic boost from business relationships with other countries.

I can only pray for a long stay in this country and hope for more opportunities to learn each day till I say goodbye to my personal fantasy land - China.

The author is a doctoral student at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC), and also an assistant researcher at the Center for Western Africa Studies of the UESTC. 

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