What is your rating of Peking University
After graduating from high school, I spent a full year at Peking University in Beijing. When I look back now, I notice again and again how formative and special this time was for me. I grew up bilingual and Chinese has always been a part of me. Compared to my German "half", however, my Chinese roots have always been neglected, which is hardly surprising since I was born and raised in Germany. Before my stay in Beijing, I didn't give much thought to how my relationship with China could change. My focus was very much on improving my language skills, because although my mom has consistently spoken Chinese with me since I was born, my level was of course always below that of the native speakers. To counteract this, I originally wanted to study in China for a semester. Instead, it turned into a whole year, because after only two months I realized that I wanted to stay longer.
The Peking University campus is like a small town: In addition to all the teaching buildings, there are supermarkets, cafes, hairdressers, banks, eyewear shops, flower shops and the best - a lake. One of my favorite pastimes was going for a walk with my friends on the lakeshore with my friends on the relatively rare, smog-free days and enjoying the idyllic mix of water, pastures and old, traditionally Chinese buildings. In winter, the so-called “lake without a name” is transformed into a small ice skating stadium - you can rent ice skates for 5RMB.
I also spent a lot of time in the various canteens. China has an unbelievable food culture, which is also reflected in the wide range of options in the cafeterias. There are dishes from every conceivable region in China, although each cafeteria naturally has its own specialties, which I tried gradually. My absolute favorites: hot drinks made from legumes and vegetable baozi (the equivalent of bread made from yeast dough in Germany).
Thanks to my already existing knowledge of Chinese, I was able to take the regular subjects of the Chinese students and did a kind of “Studium Generale” in these two semesters. In the first few months I found it very difficult to keep up with the lectures and writing homework in particular initially led to despair. At the time I would never have thought that I would take almost twice as many subjects in the second semester and would not overwhelm myself with several homework at the same time.
I was also surprised by the university's liberality, both in terms of content and in terms of its openness to foreign students. Apparently Peking University is known as the most liberal university in China and you can really feel that. Two special events at the PKU are the “Club Week” and the “Culture Festival”. During Club Week, all kinds of student clubs that you can join introduce themselves, e.g. dance clubs, musical clubs, university newspapers or hiking clubs.
I worked as a journalist for the “Office of International Relations Press Corp” and performed “Les Miserables” with the musical club, which was definitely one of the highlights of the whole year. The “Culture Festival” offers all exchange students the opportunity to present their own culture - be it through dance, food, photos, art or games. Each nationality represented has its own stand, which is then decorated according to culture. It's a motley event that bridges cultural barriers, enables interaction and is just a lot of fun.
In the beginning it was difficult to make Chinese friends because there was a noticeable cultural barrier. To be honest, I thought it would be a little easier because I assumed that my Chinese roots would make things easier. After the usual initial difficulties, including mini culture shocks, I noticed that my “Chinese half” was blossoming more and more and making contacts became easier and easier. In any case, I got to know my closest friends outside of the lectures, because in a group of several hundred students you get lost a bit.
This year I learned an incredible amount about my second home and finally got a deeper insight into the culture, history and society of a country that is incredibly fascinating. Today's Chinese society is very exciting because it is currently in a state of great change. The interplay between the strongly developed, traditional values and traditions with the advancing modernization and the foreign influences due to globalization is very interesting and it was a valuable experience to exchange ideas with Chinese friends about these changes and to get a “look from the inside”. You learn to look at things from new perspectives, to understand the culture and dynamics of a “foreign” country and to broaden your horizons. For me personally, the time in Beijing was “half” self-discovery and I am infinitely grateful that I was given this opportunity.
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