An essay on Beijing |
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An essay on Beijing

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By Rebecca Maria Mingotti Landriani | | Updated: Feb 14, 2022

[Italy] Rebecca Maria Mingotti Landriani, Beijing Normal University

Rebecca Maria Mingotti Landriani attends a meeting in Brussels. [Photo provided to]

Gazing into the distance, I took a breath—Mountain-climbing is really challenging. Fortunately, the peak was just several hundred meters away. The fatigue in my body started to recede, and I became excited again.

Taking another breath, I looked up into the autumn sky, which was beautiful and crystal clear. The green woods at the valley was turning red, and they looked like clusters of flames from a distance.

Lao She, one of China’s greatest writers in the 20th century, once wrote that the season around the Mid-Autumn Festival is Beijing’s most beautiful period in a year. Beijing’s autumn is exactly a mesmerizing season. For a foreign girl who has come to China for the first time, enjoying the autumn scenes from the historical Great Wall is my great honor.

I can still recall that before I came to Beijing, my family and friends were so worried that I might not be used to live and study in a faraway country. They were also anxious after reading some negative reports about Beijing.

Some people hinted that the “terrible smog” in China might hurt my health and make me suffer from the notorious “Beijing cough”. Others mocked about poor sanitation in China, and cheap and low quality products. If what they said were true, I could not have survived one week in Beijing, let alone two semesters.

Seeing is believing. I decided to come to the country with a long history and persistent controversy and check it out with my own eyes.

I kept walking toward the hill top so that I could get a better view.The autumn wind blew in my hair … I’ve been studying in Beijing for more than three months. I love my life here, just like a baby longing for the arms of her mother. I can’t forget when my flight landed at the Beijing Capital International Airport, I felt like arriving in another London. The streets were lined up with tall buildings, the traffic was busy, crowds of people could be seen here and there—the capital of China was full of the energy and charm of a metropolitan city.

Everything in the city—from the road signs, color of buses to the boards in traditional Chinese styles, from the different facial features to goods in the stores—are hailing at me, “Hi, welcome to China.”

The campus of Beijing Normal University [Photo provided to]

Although I had studied topics such as “China’s international status and market potential” when I was studying in Britain, I was still deeply surprised about its rapid development when I experienced Beijing’s new life style in person.

I have put a lot of efforts into the study of the Chinese language, because the continuous economic development of China has triggered a new round of international exchanges, and many multinational companies have been paying increasing attention to the Chinese market.

At a time of rapid changes, young people will have a greater potential of personal development if they can grab a chance to study in China.The days I spent in Beijing have not only strengthened my determination to study Chinese even harder, but also given me a chance to explore China’s cultural accumulation from ancient times, and get to know the beautiful mind of China.

I’m increasingly impressed with Chinese people’s culture and thinking during my study at the Beijing Normal University. I admire the grandmas who practice their “square dances” in the parks and grandpas who do tai chi, a slow motion exercise inherited from ancient times—they were so focused on their own world, as if forgetting about any sorrows or noises around them, but immersing themselves with nature. In classes, the teachers often encourage us, patiently correct our mistakes, and lead us to read stories about China’s traditions.

After I told my family and friends about my experience and impressions in Beijing, their anxiety and prejudice have dissipated.The rapid changes taking place in China are so different from what they have in mind about this country—they were literally shocked by what I told them.

They kept asking me, really? really? I’m proud of myself being an eyewitness here. Beijing, China, I’m so impressed by your charms, and I’m so excited for your development. I also reminded my family and friends that the cultural difference between China and the outside world has become diminished, and it’s much easier than I had imagined integrating into this city.

They felt relaxed after hearing my story, some even hope to travel to China one day. For me, I had feared that I might miss my home very much when I first came to China. Now, I’m enjoying my life here and almost forget about missing home.

I was at last standing on top of the mountain. Looking at the shuffling cars on the roads below, the past days played back in my mind like moving pictures. China has been going through profound changes.

The impact of these changes on me and the hostile reports about China in the foreign media have prompted me to sift through the details about China. I have learned to look at an object from different perspectives, and my thinking is getting more matured.

Time flew by while I was swarmed in my memory. The sky turned reddish, as if it was painted red by an inspirational artist with warm and soft colors. The sun was setting down into the western mountains. I set out on the trip back to downtown in the last sunshine of that day. Halfway down the hill, I turned back and looked at the forest and a pine tree on the peak …

What is happiness? How can a person live a happy and fulfilling life? Even the world’s most knowledgeable philosopher may not be able to answer the question. A thousand people may have a thousand opinions. But I believe I have got my happiness in Beijing. These beautiful moments I spent in China are all precious and unforgettable.

After I came back to the university, I was worried again. I wondered when I could come back to this country again after a year of study—a country that I will miss even in my dreams. I do hope I will return to China some day. Now I know what is my happiness—that is, to live in Beijing.