My name is Ahmed Abdulhadi. My Chinese name is ”阿瓦德”. I am an Arabian from the Republic of Yemen at the south of Arabic Peninsula at the western part of Asia.

I finished my high school study with a good score and was one of the best students in my country so that I could apply for Yemen government scholarship program to study abroad. China was my choice, because I wanted to know more about the culture, the people and the language as well. At that time I didn’t have much knowledge about this mysterious country except it was big and powerful. It wasn’t a long time since it’s established and it’s now one of the greatest developing countries in the world. In my country many Chinese people work in Chinese companies in different fields such as Yemen hospitals as doctor specialized in Chinese medicine for many people like to take their treatments. So Yemen government and Chinese government have a very good cooperation since decades ago. Chinese government supports Yemen development. There are around 40 Yemeni students who come to china every year as an education exchange program for bachelor degree or further studies in the mainland of China.

I came to China in September, 2006. At that time I didn’t know even a word of Chinese except ”nihao” which means hello and one character ”你好” that I could memorize cause it’s just like the shape of square and a line crossing it vertically. So communication was a very serious problem. I could not handle or achieve anything unless a friend of mine who understands Chinese very well interprets for me. I realized how important it was to learn Chinese. Before I came here I never thought that there are other people except Chinese who can speak Chinese very well. In my eyes Chinese characters are just like drawings that only an artist can handle. But when I saw my county-mates can speak it very well, I seemed to have hope that I can learn it well just as they did. I still remember that something happened on my way to Central South University. At that time my partner and I couldn’t speak any Chinese and also we couldn’t find anyone for help. No one told us at which stop we should get off. My friend had an Arabian book which were translated into Chinese. Using that book we started a kind of conversation with people on that train. They pointed to the question they wanted to ask like ”where are you from?” and I looked for the answer in the book so he could see the translation.

The year for the Chinese language learning was the most difficult but most interesting as well. This language is regarded as the most difficult in the world. We had to get used to many things totally different from my home country, such as weather and food. The weather here is very strange, which is very cold in winter and very hot in summer. I was Ok with that, but the problem is it’s changing very quickly. We could have two seasons within one day– hot in the morning and very cold at night. That is also why I always catch cold.

The other one is the food. Islam is the religion that 95% of Arabs believe in. It’s prohibited for Islam believers to eat pork or any kind of meat unless it’s slaughtered by a Muslim believer and Islam cannot drink any kind of wine or even beer. Most of the Chinese people are not religious believers so they don’t have to be bothered by this. So if I wanted to eat in any Chinese restaurant, it was very difficult to find the dish I could eat. Fortunately I found later that some people, called ”Huizu”, who are from minority nationality and Islam as well, run their own restaurants. Even the dining hall of our school has a special sector for people like me. They cook dishes I can eat. That helps a lot in solving this problem. But still, there is another little problem with it. It’s that people of Hunan Province like to eat very spicy food. They like every dish to be very spicy maybe because Hunan province produces pepper as well as rice.

I had been in China for 4 years and still had so many things about the Chinese Cultures that I could not understand. I think to study any other language one important thing is to study their culture as well, because in that way I can understand the language better and even more I can understand the way they think since everyone has its way in thinking and dealing for other people which is caused by his background and the environment he was raised in.