My deeply rewarding experience in China!
Ali from Pakistan is currently studying World Economics as a graduate student at Beijing Normal University where he focuses his research on economic relations between China and Pakistan. Ali completed his undergraduate degree from Pakistan’s leading business school, then he got a full scholarship as a cultural and goodwill ambassador to study 4 months at University of Memphis, Tennessee in the United States, which for him was a good experience.
First Impression in China
After studying in Pakistan and the United States, Ali continued to pursue his master’s degree in World Economics from Beijing Normal University. Although Ali has heard a lot about China, he never really thought of coming to China. “Long-live China-Pakistan Friendship” has already been a popular saying in his home-country. Pakistani’s consider China as a strong pillar, he says. After graduation from an American university and Ali wanted to do something differently from what everybody was doing at that moment. He started looking for opportunities in China.
Ali’s first impression on Beijing China was quite different and unique. His flight was late at night and when he arrived at the airport, it was dark outside and it was raining cats and dogs. A friend of his, who lives in Beijing, came to pick him up from the airport and when they were riding home, this experience was fascinating. “Beijing was like peaceful, silent. It was like surreal.”
“I’ve always tried to incorporate this habit of conversing with Chinese people and also with my friends in Chinese language.”
His experience in China has been totally different from what it was from other countries. Ali thinks that Basic understanding of Chinese is needed and this has been a difficult but exciting experience for him from Day 1. “Because I think that once you are in a country, you have to respect the culture as well. You have to learn a language that is a common language. Although I know that if I go on speaking in English with anyone, they would answer me. People in China, they know English but I really like to converse with them in their own language because I think that is also giving them the respect that they truly deserve.” Ali has been learning Chinese and the most difficult part for him is learning and recognizing characters. Recently he has learnt the Chinese expression “méi guān xi” which means “it’s okay, it’s alright, no problem”.
“I’ve seen this in China, people don’t fight at all and everybody is minding their own business.”
After having been in China for one and a half years, what impress Ali the most are his professors and friendly people in this beautiful city, Beijing. Apart from this. the most important lesson he has learnt here is how to live in harmony and peace. “I’m going to perpetuate this with other people, how to be peaceful, unaggressive, loving towards other people.”
Living and Studying in Beijing Normal University
“If you are afraid of diversities, then don’t be because once you are here, in this situation, you will always find yourself comfortable.”
Although coming to China from a different culture, Ali hasn’t faced diversity problems or culture shock because he has already experienced this. “This hasn’t been true for me, specifically because I have lived in different countries; I have met with different people. Even when I was in the U.S., I met with a lot of Chinese citizens. I met Japanese, Korean people and I made really good friends with them.”
During his stay at Beijing Normal University, the first experience was meeting people from different culture in the classroom. “And when the professor started to teach and the students were responding, there was like a two-way communication between students and teachers and what was the most impressive thing about them was that everybody was knowledgeable and informed about their courses and subjects and they are master in that.” Everybody around was fully participating in class. This also gave Ali motivation and inspiration to also be an expert in something, be that in international political economy and China’s economy.
“Professors and International Student Office can guide you, they can be your mentor.”
The most beautiful things Ali loves about BNU are professors and the International Student Office. “They are really cooperative; they are really out there to help you out in your life, in your academic life as well as the personal life.”
“You will get a different experience of different exciting things if you live in Beijing.”
Ali has also visited places in Beijing and he is surprised to see places like Sanlitun, which is very developed and modern. “And you can have a different experience altogether if you go to the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace.”
“Here the tea culture is different.”
Ali has experienced a lot of culture activities as well. Recently one of his friends invited him to experience Chinese tea. He has never seen such in his life because in other places, tea is not a point when people come and meet. “You have to sit with friends and then one person is brewing the tea for you and then serving it live. You are enjoying the conversation and also enjoying tea as well.”
Views on “Belt and Road” and China’s Economy
Before coming to China, his expectations were to see for himself how China is developing, how China is doing daily business, how this country is operating and helping so many countries in the process. Through studying at Beijing Normal University, he found the answers.
“I think this project in itself is going to work for region and totality.”
As an economist and as a researcher himself, Ali has done research on “Belt and Road” as well. Some regions around China are a bit economically or financially weak. So in Ali’s opinion, initiative of “Belt and Road” from China is going to transform this entire region and make it more developed. “Once your neighbors are developed, you also get strength; you also become powerful because you know that you are not alone in this region that is fighting with poverty, corruption and economic issues that normal small countries face.” According to Ali, China has proved itself to be a good leader because in the recent years, China has developed so much that every country in the world, including some western countries, has a lot to learn from China and Chinese model of governance. “I can say in years to come when this project will be successful; we are all going to get benefits from this project.”
“Working in collaboration with Chinese firms and government will prosper together”.
Besides, as a master student, studying economics, Ali expresses his views about CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) from an academic perspective. According to his research of the latest progress, Pakistan has got 9 special economic zones, fully functioning economic zones where a lot of Chinese investors are investing in collaboration with Pakistani industries. And he thinks this collaboration has been really great for his country because it has produced employment and revenue for companies because Chinese government is investing a lot of infrastructure projects like electricity and roads.
Ali’s future plan aims to integrate countries, especially Pakistan and China further at the university level and increase government to government collaboration. “As a student and as a Pakistani myself and as a person with experience, I’m trying to really help out my country. I’m excited about this new upcoming future where I’m also playing a role of helping my country out in various ways with the help of China.”
As graduation is around the corner, Ali will probably graduate after 2 months. To future BNUers, Ali said “I think I’d say that meet as many people as possible, make connections and meet with your professors, learn from them, sit with them, talk to them. They have a lot of good experiences that they can share with you, which eventually can help you out in your career and future life ambitions and goals.”
Reporter: Yan Xinjia, Kehinde Bolu, Terada Moe
Translation: Yan Jiaxing
Typesetting: Wang Qinghui