The reason why I wrote this article is because someone made me realize that there are very limited personal sharing information of universities in China. No wonder why I rarely hear people talk about choosing to study in China. When I tried to open Indonesia Mengglobal Forum, I just realized even this website is also blocked by the country. As a result I have to use my slow and unstable VPN (a portal if I may say) to access the forum and write this article. This poor access of China makes me think that my experience in China might help people to gain a new perspective of this country.
Everyone back then wondered, “Why China?” The truth is, I went to China because it was an urgent plan. At first, I wanted to go to closer countries where English is the primary language. I already applied to Hong Kong and Singapore but unfortunately those countries didn’t meet my requirements. Then, my father came up with this idea of studying in China. I denied it at first because I couldn’t speak Mandarin, which meant that I had to postpone my design study in order to study the language. But I finally had to try that plan because I actually had no other choices.
If you ask me now, “Why China?” I would answer it differently. I never knew that China is such a great country until I’ve got here. First of all, the language is a beautiful masterpiece of art that transformed into an efficient mode of communication. People will say it is hard to study the language but I would say that it’s an advantage to be able to speak Mandarin.
Second, their culture appreciation amazes me. Every time I stroll around the city, I could feel their history are still as strong as their modern life’s developing from time to time. For me as a design student, it’s an interesting experience to study in this country because their culture gives me new perspective on how to relate modern design with history. This is something that I might not learn if I chose to study in other countries. Besides the culture, the people are also part of China that you won’t forget. Their attitude mostly contrasts to us, Indonesian people. Their expressive manner and style (especially their fashion style) never fail to entertain me. Third, the food tastes like heaven. There’s no need other explanation of this part. If you love Chinese food, China will surprise you that the Chinese food you’ve been eating all this time is nothing compared to the original dishes.
I realized that my answers are optimistic, naïve and seemingly unrealistic. So, I might give a little realistic advice of things that most people worry about China.
Facebook, YouTube and other popular websites are blocked. If you’re highly dependable on these social medias, it might hard if you don’t find any solution. The first half-year studying in China made me feel so isolated from the “outer world”. The limited access of network made it hard to be in contact with family and friends. But back then, I didn’t know that there is a VPN to access the blocked websites. So, the solution is to buy or use a free VPN.
Language It’s funny that most people that I know worry about the Facebook connection more than the language barrier. Yes, Chinese language is hard and there’s no instant way to master it unless you have a photographic memory that makes memorizing over 30,000 characters. But trust me, when it’s for sake of your life, your ability to speak Mandarin and posturing body language will increase.
Safety. This is a cruel world and I will never be able to name a country with a zero crime rate. Overall, China is safe with its public transportation and facilities. The huge amount of population always makes the city appear crowded, all the time. A simple reminder that thieves in China tend to steal sneakily so I always keep an eye on my belongings (especially during Chinese New Year’s time)
Loneliness. Your friends aren’t going to China and you’re afraid that you’ll be the only Indonesian there. Chill out, there is an organization called Permit (Perhimpunan Pelajar dan Mahasiswa di Tiongkok). So, you’re not the only Indonesian there for 100% sure. The organization gives you experience of organizing events and socializing with other Indonesian. There’s no special requirement to join the community because it’s a very welcome group.
China is fake. How does a fake country have unique history and culture that no other countries have? Some companies in China produce fake stuff but that doesn’t mean China is fake. If you’re afraid of buying fake stuff then don’t buy it in some random stores. If you’re in China, it’s not a bad idea to try some Chinese products. It has the most reasonable price and sometimes it has more capability than what we could think of.
In the end, I just want to say, don’t be afraid to go to China. People might find that surviving in China is hard, but what you’ll find there it’s something worth to see. When you happen to adapt in China, you’ll see Indonesia in a different way. For me, I never realized that Indonesian people are so polite and nice until I’ve been in China. So in my opinion, studying abroad makes you appreciate your home country more. Lastly, if you want to study abroad and your parents won’t let you go to far away countries, I recommend you should consider China. Challenge yourself there because I guarantee that China never fails to surprise you.
The photo was supplied by the author