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The students proudly showing their certificates at the closing ceremony
14 November 2017

by Jasper Boot and Joost Wardenier

 

Jasper Boot, from the University of Twente, and Joost Wardenier, of Leiden University, were part of the Dutch group that went to China on a Seeds for the Future scholarship this summer.

Jasper and Joost

We set off to the Chinese capital Beijing in July, embarking on what would become the most thrilling cultural and professional journey all of us had ever experienced.

In this blog, we would like to share a grain of the wonderment that our encounter with Chinese culture and habits caused among us. For two weeks, our worlds were turned upside down. Meanwhile, the programme allowed us to get acquainted with the latest advancements in the telecom sector, in which Huawei - the symbol of Chinese high tech - is a major player.    

During our first week in “Zhongguo”, as the Chinese people call their republic, we took a crash course in Chinese language and culture at the Beijing Language & Culture University.

Standing in the shoes of a Chinese student was an overwhelming experience. A Chinese university is in fact a mature town, comprising massive canteen buildings, parks, a sports complex and flat blocks which accommodate thousands of students.

After four days, we could speak some Chinese

Apart from this surreal atmosphere, we were engrossed by the content of the courses. After four days, we were able to introduce ourselves in Chinese, order a dinner and have a simple dialogue. We did not think upfront that this would be possible in such a small amount of time.

The absolute highlight, however, was the performance of our very own rendition of a Chinese song (“Zai Jian”)! Furthermore, two afternoons were devoted to Chinese water painting and calligraphy workshops, which were a very interesting addition. Some of us even created real masterpieces!

Of course, we also had time to explore the cultural richness of Beijing. Our truly enthusiastic tour guide took us to the Summer Palace, a section of the Great Wall and the iconic Forbidden City! On our own, we also visited Tiananmen Square, the 2008 Olympic Park and - not to be missed - a karaoke bar.

To gain a better insight into the politico-economic relationship between China and The Netherlands, we also paid a visit to the Dutch Embassy in Beijing. All in all, the programme was busy, but extremely rewarding.