When making the decision to take a Summer Business Course in Beijing, I wasn’t really certain of what I had to expect. None of my friends, parents or family had ever been to China before and yet, here I was, at the age of 21, embarking on a journey to the other side of the world: The People’s Republic of China.
The months leading up to my stay in Beijing went well thanks to the outstanding guidance and correspondence with the members of the Central University of Finance and Economics Business School. Not only did the CUFE Business School send me the appropriate information to get my VISA approved, but they also arranged my accommodation, a pickup at the airport and gave me many more tips and helpful information to make my stay as convenient as possible. I was positively overwhelmed by the friendliness and assistance of the CUFE faculty members.
Once arrived in Beijing, I was picked up at the airport by two lovely members of CUFE and was taken straight to the main building at the campus. Here I was introduced to some of the other faculty members, who took me on a tour of the neighbourhood, bought me lunch and helped me get settled in. Not only did they spend a lot of time on making sure that I was feeling comfortable, they also suggested taking part in activities and join them and their friends outside of the school hours and during the weekends. Aurora was one of my main contacts during my stay in Beijing and she regularly contacted me, asking me whether I needed any help or had any questions. I felt really taken care of.
The first week before my course was planned to start, I took part in a whole range of activities with other foreign students and visited quite some historical and cultural places in and around Beijing, ranging from the Great Wall of China, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City and the Silk and Pearl Markets. Besides these activities, I was also offered to accompany other groups on company visits, which really expanded my horizons on how Chinese businesses function. In addition, I also joined these same groups for several classes on Chinese business, such as Agriculture in China and Global Production and Trade Development. The organization of these activities was flawless.
I basically spent my entire first week in Beijing getting indulged in the Chinese culture. Faculty members took me to a karaoke bar and introduced me to singing Chinese songs. Some Chinese students planned a trip around Beijing for me, where we visited a Buddhist Temple and other locations of interest. I played badminton with a group of Chinese girls, basketball with a group Chinese boys and football with a mixture of foreigners and local students. I was introduced to bars and even a dancing. I was served traditional and spicy Chinese food. In short, I didn’t spend a single minute of my time alone and was always part of one group or the other. There weren’t enough hours in a day.
Global Marketing Course
My first time in a Chinese classroom was when my Global Marketing course started. Although I was the only non-Chinese student, I really made a lot of friends in a short period of time. I choose to sit on the first row, where no students were sitting as most other seats were taken, and after the first hour, I had already convinced five Chinese students to sit with me. After class, they joined my group for one of the assignments. It was a remarkable experience to get to know them.
In addition to the class being of a really high standard and quality, everyone accepted my presence. The teaching assistants were extremely friendly and offered help whenever it was needed. The Chinese students watched, cautiously, most of my movements and were often really excited when I approached them to have a chat. The teacher of the course was extremely talented and really knew what she was talking about. It was, in my opinion, one of the best courses I have ever had. On top of that, the content of the course really appealed to me. It was of real value to learn more about Global Management and Global Marketing, thoroughly explained by using various metaphors related to different cultures, countries and markets.
Life in Beijing
The life in Beijing was indescribable. The first two days, I had quite some difficulty getting adjusted to the way of life here in China, compared to the West. However, after opening up my heart and maintaining an open mind-set, I quickly fell in love with China and its rich culture. As I have only started learning Mandarin, I don’t understand much yet, but I simply love going out on the street and listen to people speak the language.
And although it might seem difficult for a foreigner to come to Beijing and communicate with Chinese people, it really isn’t that hard. People are understanding, friendly and try to help you whenever and wherever you need it. This goes for both wealthy and poor people, which is really remarkable to a foreigner. I am yet to encounter an unfriendly Chinese person.
A second home
Although China is really different from what I am used to, I feel extremely comfortable here. It’s almost as if it’s my second home and this is greatly thanks to the great job all the people at CUFE did in making me feel at home in Beijing. They really made me feel part of a large family.
The people I met here are going to be friends for life and with some of them I have already made plans to meet up with in the future. I cannot do honour to the feeling I am currently experiencing as words can simply not describe how unforgettable this experience was. It wasn’t simply a trip abroad or taking a class in a different country, it was emerging myself into a new culture and becoming one with this culture. This is why I am planning to learn the Chinese language and come back to China in the future, whenever the opportunity presents itself.
I want to take the time to thank the Central University of Finance and Economics for this amazing opportunity and experience. CUFE really is a high quality institution worthy of its reputation.
I would recommend this enlightening adventure to anyone, as it doesn’t only expand your knowledge and horizons, but it makes you a differentperson.
Beijing changed my life, for the better.
July 21, 2016