About a year and a half ago, I saw Maudy Ayunda’s story in her Youtube about her life in Oxford back in 2016. I loved it very much. (It’s long before she’ll know and announced her dilemma over Harvard and Stanford just today). I’m not a fans, but her kind of story of her life, the college library, the time she visited the market, riding the bicycle, were kind of stories that made me dreamt of going abroad for study also, back when I was in high school (beside working).
I had applied for a master scholarship (all deadly went for universities in America) for more than 5 times since I was in the year end of my college. Unlike how Maudy ended up with her submissions, I didn’t pass any. Some applications, my brother noticed. Yet many, they didn’t. Until one day, my brother offered me something. “You could go to China to pursue your dream to study abroad,” he said. “And to learn Chinese”, for sure.
Though it wasn’t a country I dreamt of for living, I, of course, took his offer gratefully. After many asking, researching, and surveying, I made my choice for when and where to go.
Long story short, I landed in Guangzhou, China, right few days before today, 4 years ago.
The day I arrived was closed to the end of winter in the southern part of China. Although we’d been told and prepared for a jacket, the cold still bite me a bit. About 15 of us were led by one teacher from Indonesia who was previously student in the university we were going to attend. So, he guided us all the way once we landed in the airport to the dorm.
Sun Yat Sen University was the place I chose. After getting many offers from the agency, Sun Yat Sen University (SYSU), is located in Guangzhou, won my heart.
First reason was that many said it has less Indonesians students (sometimes this is a thing you will and need to consider when studying abroad – although some preferred the other way). Second, I was bought with the university brochure where the campus looked very nice and green. Last but not least, SYSU is on the top rank of top 3 universities in southern China. So, I had no doubt. Guangzhou, I chose, for I didn’t want to stay in too metropolitan city like Shanghai (because it’s expensive). Just like my previous reason to choose Surabaya over Jakarta, that’s how I ended up with Guangzhou instead. :)
With my intention to study Chinese, I attended The School of Chinese as a Second Language (SCSL) for one semester. This was an intensive program attended by foreign students who want to learn specifically for Chinese. Not only that China population was 1,37 billion alone that year, portion of foreigners who study in this university were also big. From Monday to Friday, almost 6 hours a day, we learned speaking, writing, and listening to Chinese so reading sometime like this wasn’t a problem 4 years back, until tonight. Any of you could read? I believe there was no secret written here.
Sun Yat Sen University isn’t located in the suburb area (as I thought of most universities were located). Instead, it’s located in one crowded area not far from the central city. Just accros the campus, lies a trade market where many people from Africa, India, and even Indonesia bought wholesale stuffs especially clothes, and did the delivery just at the same location. One stop shopping, I called. Just like a common campus area, it has also many restaurants nearby and of course McD.
The campus itself, was in one big area. Every building looked so pretty and reminded me of the French building style with a lot of bricks. Trees were everywhere. Many students were walking on the pedestrian because car wasn’t allowed to pass the university area, except for a bicycle. Were you reminded of University of Indonesia? Because it’s pretty much alike.
My dorm was about 5 minutes walk form the main entrance. While dragging my big orange luggage, I’d imagined how my life would be when the school started (that I couldn’t wait!).
Once we got the dorm and spoke to the receptionist, the teacher led us to the room we’d booked in advance. I got a room with Sherly, a very active girl from Jakarta who was 6-7 years younger than me. For you to know, I was the oldest among the group. That’s why, weeks after, everyone in my Indonesian group called me “jie-jie (姐姐)” or older sister in Chinese. What a title! :)
Our room was in the second floor, only two rooms before the corner room. The building was quite old room and so did the dorm, but for me, it came with a sensible price we paid. This building had total of 4 floors with perhaps 70 rooms. I remembered settling my luggage to my bed after picking up my side, on the left, and Sherly on the right.
There was a small alley In front of my room where I could stand and saw a small garden lied in the middle of this square building. There were two public kitchen, on the first and third floor. That afternoon, sitting in one of the table, a couple who were reading to a book, perhaps for studying. Next to a security post in front of the building, there’s a small shop where we ended up buying coffee after the class or ice cream on the lunch break in the following days.
Few days later, our teacher told me that there was a traditional market about 15 minutes away from our place. The place was then become our favorite place to go almost every day and night for a good food, cheap bedroom and bathroom stuffs, and of course delicious desserts.
I still can feel the cold on the first day I had when I first stepped down the airport, and so did the happiness on my first week in this country. While digging up the old photos in my desktop to put in the blog, I can’t stop smiling remembering how the picture was taken back then. I have many memorable stories of my living in the most populous country on earth.
First day just started and I knew the moment that this ride would be fun!
March 2, 2015