July 18, 2023
BEIJING – Traditional art and cuisine, language and technological breakthroughs are luring young people from around the world to nation’s universities. Zou Shuo reports.
International students in China said they are deeply fascinated by the country’s rich history, diverse traditions and profound philosophical teachings.
Meanwhile learning about Chinese culture has broadened their horizons and deepened their appreciation of the beauty and wisdom it embodies, they said.
They added that more people from overseas are becoming fans of Chinese culture due to globalization, China’s rapid economic rise and growing global influence, and the popularity of the country’s modern culture.
Ren Valeryia, 27, from Belarus is a first-year postgraduate student at the Renmin University of China in Beijing. Her journey of learning about Chinese language and culture started in 2019 when she arrived at Tsinghua University for a language-learning program.
“The more time I spent in China the more I fell in love with it. I felt it was the same as being at home, safe and calm,” she said.
Realizing that she wanted to continue living and working in China, Ren decided to pursue a master’s in financial technology at Renmin. She said she has been warmly welcomed by the passionate teachers and enthusiastic classmates in the vibrant classrooms.
“Through lively conversations, cultural activities and language exchanges, I have not only improved my language skills but also developed a deeper understanding of Chinese traditions, values and customs,” she said.
“It was through these interactions that lifelong friendships have been formed, transcending language barriers and creating a sense of unity among diverse cultures.”
Moreover, being in China has given her a whole new perspective, and this firsthand experience has shattered preconceived notions and allowed her to appreciate the country’s multifaceted nature.
“The vibrant cities, modern infrastructure and technological advances exceeded my expectations. China’s rapid development and forward-thinking approach are evident everywhere, showcasing a dynamic and evolving nation. I am witnessing a society that is seamlessly blending ancient traditions with modernity, and one where innovation and tradition coexist harmoniously,” she said.
The depth and longevity of Chinese civilization captivate her, while she finds the language melodious and enjoys exploring its intricate characters, she said.
Moreover, Chinese art, such as calligraphy and traditional painting, appeals to her aesthetic sensibilities. Learning about Chinese culture has broadened her horizons and deepened her appreciation of the beauty and wisdom it embodies, she said.
To get to know Chinese culture, she has immersed herself in the vibrant cities, ancient temples and serene landscapes. She has also delved into classic Chinese literature.
Engaging with Chinese history and philosophy has allowed her to gain insights into the values and beliefs that shape the culture. Moreover, she has sought out authentic cuisine, attended cultural festivals and interacted with warm and hospitable people.
“I am particularly drawn to traditional Chinese medicine and its holistic approach to well-being. The ancient healing practices, such as acupuncture and herbal remedies, fascinate me. The integration of mind, body and spirit in Chinese medicine resonates with my own beliefs about the interconnectedness of health and wellness,” she said.
Shatrohan Kumar Das, from Nepal, has lived in China for eight years. The 28-year-old is a postgraduate student in Chinese language at Beijing Language and Culture University.
Chinese culture emphasizes values such as respect for seniors, filial piety and the importance of education, he said.
The culture is diverse and rich, with a history spanning thousands of years. It contains all kinds of elements, such as philosophy, art, literature, cuisine, martial arts and traditional medicine. Chinese philosophy — including Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism — has had a far-reaching influence, not only in China but also around the world, he added.
Das said Chinese art is known for its intricate detail, vibrant colors and symbolic representations. Traditional Chinese painting, calligraphy, pottery and porcelain are highly regarded forms of artistic expression that showcase beauty and elegance, he said.
Meanwhile, Chinese cuisine is colorful and renowned worldwide. Each region has its own unique traditions and flavors. From spicy dishes from Sichuan to delicate Cantonese dim sum and aromatic Beijing duck, Chinese cuisine offers a vast array of flavors, cooking techniques and ingredients, he said.
Das believes that economic growth, rising global influence and the growing popularity of the Chinese language are the main reasons that foreign people’s interest in and appreciation of Chinese culture has increased significantly.
However, it’s worth noting that generalizations about the country or its people can oversimplify the complexity and diversity that exist in any society. It’s always best to approach individuals with an open mind and avoid stereotypes or assumptions, he said.
Pakistan native Yasir Masood is a doctoral student at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.
“China’s long and legendary history, as well as its lively cultural setting, have left an indelible impression on me. China has stunning natural scenery, mouthwatering food and an array of exciting activities waiting to be discovered,” he said.
Chinese culture has evolved over thousands of years into a rich and diverse fabric of traditions, customs and practices. The culture can be learned through books, movies, art, music, food and language, he said.
Studying Mandarin is a popular way to learn about the culture. Understanding the language allows one to gain knowledge of Chinese history, culture, and customs, Masood said, adding that ancient literature is another excellent resource for learning about the country and its culture.
“China is also home to some of the world’s most famous monuments, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Terracotta Warriors. Seeing these sites in person and learning about China’s rich material history is another great way to get to know the country,” he said.
Furthermore, Chinese cuisine is an important element of national culture, and it is well-known for its distinct flavors and cooking techniques. Understanding of Chinese culture can be gained through tasting the various cuisines and learning about the ingredients and preparation techniques used, he added.
Anna Yuschenko, from Russia, said China was once mysterious to many people from overseas, who did not understand it. But now, with the popularization of Asian pop music and TV series, the whole world has turned its eyes to China and other Asian countries, she said.
The 21-year-old undergraduate at Beijing Language and Culture University has lived in China for less than a year, but she has already become accustomed to the unique lifestyle.
It’s no secret that China is developing faster than any other country. Everything is automated, there is no garbage in the streets, and everyone feels safe. In China, people can dance, play games and do sports outdoors freely; no one cares about your appearance, she said.
Chinese culture is one of a kind, while the country is becoming more and more influential in the world, and everyone wants to “go with the flow”, she added.
Valeryia said China’s development in recent years has been awe-inspiring, while the country’s economic growth and technological advancements have been nothing short of remarkable.
China’s transition into a global leader in innovation and technology, particularly in areas such as artificial intelligence and e-commerce, has gained worldwide attention, she said.
The nation’s emphasis on infrastructure development, exemplified by the construction of high-speed rail networks and modern urban centers, demonstrates its commitment to progress and connectivity, she added.
Masood said the technology industry has experienced substantial growth and advances in recent years. China has established itself as a global leader in fields such as e-commerce, mobile payments and artificial intelligence, he said.
The central government’s strategic support for technological development as part of its economic growth ambitions has helped the country’s technology sector thrive. Meanwhile, China’s massive population, fast urbanization and growing middle class have generated a wide and diverse market for technology and digital services, he said.
Moreover, thanks to China’s emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship, the country has spawned a plethora of technology parks and innovation centers that have encouraged a culture of creativity and collaboration among the country’s budding entrepreneurs, he added.