By Erica Kim Pamhidzai Muzhingi

 

The application process
The year 2009, saw the introduction of a Chinese club at my high school. I became an active member and was chosen as a leader of the chinese club. My involvement with the chinese club gave me an insight of the chinese culture and traditions, this together with chinese events held in my country catapulted my inspiration. I decided i wanted to come to China to study, I had no clue where to begin, I went on the internet started to search for universities, luckily i came across CUCAS.

With CUCAS life became easier, i met Ivy and Christine very dedicated stuff, who later became my friends. They personally helped me through the application process, recommended me the best universities for the major i intended to do (BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING). I paid $125 which allowed me to apply to five different universities of my choice. I am happy to announce that i had two successful applications, one at Beijing university of language and culture for my language year. And the other was Huazhong Normal university prior to Huazhong university of science and technology for my major. Anyway due to my active membership i was offered a Chinese government scholarship which directed me to Tianjin university and then Tianjin university of technology and Education majoring in Electronic Engineering.

 

Arriving in china

Ivy(CUCAS stuff) tipped ahead, in terms of weather, people, dormitory life, food and so forth. Upon arriving in China, at the airport i was received by CUCAS stuff, they took us to Beijing university of language and culture where we spent a night, followed by an early morning train to Tianjin. Once in Tianjin i made use of the little chinese i knew, to find my way. I arrived in Tianjin two weeks earlier before school starts and it was still summer, this gave me time to get accustomed to my environment . Within those weeks i made a few chinese friends who show me around, were to buy cheap and quality things, Dahutong is very big market area and everything you can find, from clothing, household items, school stationery and the good news is you can bargain and get whatever you need at a very affordable price. I learnt that we could cook in our dormitories so i got myself a hot plate, refrigerator and some cooking utensil, this way i did enjoy some delicacies from my country and share with my new friends and, sometimes of course enjoy some chinese food from our school canteens and the restaurants all over. Cooking though saves a lot of money and very convenient especially during winter.

 

Study and class life
School began, language classes at first felt like a lot of pressure, so much to grasp but as time progressed it was a lot of fun, we were an all foreigners class. By following the teachers advice together with studying on your own you were guaranteed to pass your HSK level 4 of which we all did with flying colors. After one year of language you can speak chinese fluently in terms of communication in everyday life.

Beginning my major was another phase, now seated in a lecture with over 200 chinese students and only 5 foreigners. The greatest challenge at the beginning was that we were now learning new material from different courses of the major and this consisted new chinese characters we hadn’t learnt before. At the same time the lecturers taught in chinese and their speaking speed was a bit too fast for me to understand. Anyway i would follow my lecturers after class for help, of which they are very glad to do so. They would guide me on which topics to study, explain were i don’t understand .

After that me i would also study together with my chinese classmates and personally i have a Youdao dictionary on my phone which i use to search for chinese characters i do not know. I search for data on the internet on all my subjects, sometimes in english so that when i understand the subject in english it will be easier for me to understand when i read in Chinese. When comes exam time, i do revision with my chinese classmates and ask the lecturer for guidance on what to prepare. I am glad to say i have been satisfied with my results so far.
Social life

Tianjin has a large community of foreigners from all over the world. We usually get together on so many different occasions. I as a christian i joined the Tianjin International Fellowship, we gather together every sunday for praise and worship. There are also a number of churches like the Roman Catholic which is in Binjiandao and the Seventh Day Adventist which is also in Binjiandao, Muslim temples and Buddhist temples. There is an organization (GUAST) General Union of African Student Association, which serves to help mostly African students with whatever problems they might encounter and also togetherness. We usually have a lot of events, get together, birthday parties, Cultural exchange events, sporting activities e.t.c Regardless of our ethnic and religious differences we all get together in all these events, and there is so much brotherly and sisterly love, that it feels like one big happy family. Tianjin is very beautiful and big city with a lot of places of interest. I love going to the cinema, of which cinemas are all over the city, i especially like the IMAX at Joy City. During winter i usually go skating at Tianjin tower a walkable distance for Tianjin University. There is the Tianjin sky wheel, the culture street , the italian street are all places i enjoy visiting during my spare time. Tianjin is one of China’s very cool and calm city, and China as whole is full diversity and gives you an opportunity to experience the world at large.