I stayed in China for 10 months and my stay there transformed my perception toward the country. I also learned some lessons about life and how it is different in China from our country.
As my date to fly to China was nearing, I was getting more excited by day but I was also nervous. I was also a bit sad when the day came for me to say goodbye to my family. My family as well as I was struggling to control our tears as they bid me farewell at the airport.
The flight was also a first-of-its-kind experience for me. After a 10-hour flight, I finally reached Shenyang of Northern China. The airport there was quite big; it took me a 10-minute taxi ride just to come out of the airport.
My eyes were dazzled as I saw all kinds of tall buildings towering as if they were competing against each other to touch the sky. I had never seen such buildings in my life; the maximum storeys of buildings I had seen in my country were 10 to 15.
My first week in China felt like a lifetime. China is 65 times bigger than Nepal with a population of 2.31 billion. There was a huge cultural difference but it was much more complicated than that. There were differences in language, food, appearances and the very surrounding.
The view of city as a whole was mesmerizing; it is rich of ancient monuments and mystical Karst landscapes. I started college at Shenyang Aerospace University (SAU), one of top 10 universities for engineering in China, and got into a dormitory shortly. There I received another cultural shock.
The school canteen had boiled food, which was tasteless. When I first saw sea foods like crab and oysters, I nearly threw up -- it was simply an unpleasant sight. I couldn't even eat properly for days in the beginning, and used to constantly fall sick.
Slowly, I stared adapting to the habit of eating Chinese foods. I also learnt that Chinese found it disgusting if you use your hands to eat; you either use chopsticks or spoons and forks.
Their famous food was either sea food or chaufan rice. And there are some places where they offer you a buffet, where you pay 50 Yuan and eat as much as you can for an hour.
Your culture reflects very deep prescriptions, believes and values that influence your way of life. However, in the Northern part of China, people don't have a specific religion and they are free to follow any religion they want. People there mainly follow Christianity, Taoism and Islam.
The college was a different life altogether. There are student unions, where students can get engaged and hold sports events or cultural fests with permission. The university also gives its students an opportunity to work in the administration office.
The year is divided into two semesters: one from March to July while another extends from September to January with one-and-half-month vacation or semester break.
The syllabus gives an ample amount of space to practical education. There are many research labs and many types of equipment that support research for every student.
The classes for Chinese and international students were separate. The Chinese were taught in their own language where as others were taught in English. Similarly, teachers are available anytime the students need help or have any kind of confusion. Moreover, they were also available via mail if not in class.
Before China, I had never been away from my home or my family. It was hard the first time, but as I am in Nepal on a break, I don’t think going back would be easy. As the days for my return are nearing, I have butterflies in my stomach and I think the emotions of leaving home will always remain the same.
Dhiraj is a student of Computer Science and Technology in Shenyang Aerospace University, China.