A Tier-One city in China, Guangzhou is therefore one of the most developed and affluent Chinese cities in the South. Guangzhou was a city that was not unknown to me, as I have been here several times before my exchange started at Lingnan College, Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU). I started my exchange officially on 29th of August and yet in less than three months I packed my suitcase and bid good bye to my lovely exchange university on 25th of November. Yeah, quite early right? All my classes only lasted for thirteen weeks, so there is still a lot of weeks left to travel around China before the next trimester starts ?.
SYSU was founded by Sun Yat-Sen, the revolutionary founder of Republic of China, in 1924. The University is ranked as nr. 1 in South China region, so in a way all the local students here are quite proud of their school.
Since I am attending Lingnan College under SYSU, this school is situated in the South Campus, which is located in the centre of Guangzhou. The south campus of SYSU covers a total area of 1.17 square kilometers, thus, it is the second most largest campus of SYSU after the Zhuhai campus (Zhuhai is a city next to the border of Macau). Of course, I didn’t get lost on the south campus despite that it is a lot bigger than my home university :P.
The longest school building in China (horizontally) is in Zhuhai campus
Zhuhai campus is literally surrounded by nature
Rewind to the beginning of the story, the weeks before my exchange started, I was already looking for accommodation in Guangzhou so I could be sure that I would have a place to stay once I reach there. SYSU did not provide any options for the exchange students to stay on campus; hence, I was left on my devices to find an apartment to rent. It was easier to look for an apartment for three people, so I found two roommates too along the process. The journey wasn’t as easy as I expected it to be since the university is situated in the centre of Guangzhou so finding a clean and reasonably priced apartment was a bit hard. After signing the contract, we had to find an Internet provider and arrange the modem and router installation with the help of our housing agent. Not only that, but we also had to change the lock of our main door, fix the lamps and clean the apartment before we could really settle in with peace.
Besides these arrangements, the first few days of school were nice. Each of the exchange students has a buddy, who is a local student at this university, to help us settle in and guide us around. What was nice about Lingnan College is that they organized an orientation meeting and a welcome party for all of the exchange students. We played many games to break the ice between the exchange students, some cultural performances from local students and snacking.
To tell you a bit more about the plus point of being a SYSU student is the access to rent bikes on campus. Since I can get a bit lazy when it comes to walking in the heat, renting a bike has become the number one option I would take (almost) every time. There are many yellow-colored bikes named ‘ofo bike’ on campus, and unlocking a bike is just one click away from your phone. Another plus point is that the ofo bikes are super affordable since one ride costs 50 cent or less ?.
Besides the bike craze, I would also like to mention about the facilities that this school has to offer. The facilities on campus range from outdoor swimming pools to hotels. There is also a bakery, supermarket, hair salon on campus. What is even more is awesome is that there are ATM machines of different banks to pin out money and shops that sells SIM cards for phones, which is quite handy since they are next to each other and on campus.
The toughest part for me in China is dum dum dum…. The Chinese menu. In a lot of restaurants, they do not provide English menus, or menus in Chinese with pictures (I still go crazy each time because of this). Some Chinese menus are easy to read, with basic Chinese characters such as rice, noodles, chicken, and beef. But man, why aren’t the majority of the restaurants like that ?? A translating app doesn’t always work or it gives me weird English sentences in the end so I don’t really understand it and gave up on that a long time ago. I still remember that funny occasion where I asked the employee to read the entire menu for me in Cantonese so I could order since I can only listen and not read properly? so nice of her.
Hence, canteen food has become my all time favorite place to be when it’s time to fill my tummy since the dishes are displayed on a counter and I don’t have to order from a menu. With a large variation to choose from, a price between 8-15 Yuan per meal, and a safer food quality (verified by the authorities) have led me to appreciate the school canteens even more.
There’s soup, rice and everything~
Freshly made noodles with tomato and egg (yeah I got an obsession with??)
The times spent here
Besides that I dislike turning on the VPN each time I want to use YouTube or Google, I still like that the workload here at Lingnan College as it is the minimum of the minimum. Most of the time I feel like I have so much free time left that I don’t know what to do besides napping. My family even asked me once why I keep traveling so often as if I am on vacation here during my exchange. Little did they know, I also feel like I am on vacation mode here, a time-out during my senior year. Most of the professors here are very relaxed and are not strict at all. The essays that we have to write do not have a strict guideline that we must follow and most of the time we can choose whatever topic we would like to write about☺️. For my five courses, I have in total only 3 exams because all the others are graded through essays and presentations.
I really like how our classrooms are furnished with super soft cushioned chairs and with air conditioners everywhere. It brings me to my comfort zone, and sometimes, it encourages me to fall asleep class in class too (but now I got a new tactic to not fall asleep~). Regardless of some struggles, I really like that my stay here feels more like a vacation than the usual stress and anxious life I sometimes experience back in my normal school life in the Netherlands. But yeah, those moments only happened because I started too late each time.
The things that I like the most about this exchange is the calm, slow-paced school life that I experienced and the given moments and freedom to travel around often. As I only have to attend classes for 14 hours a week, with minimum homeworks, group projects or assignments in my schedule, I could easily plan a trip to Guilin or Taiwan without too much of a headache hahah. Besides, the weather is okay here despite that sometimes it can get too warm and humid until mid of November and then it becomes freezingly cold afterwards and then quite warm again ? . Now after these months that feel like a vacation to me, I finally feel that I am ready to go back to my “usual” routine in the Netherlands because I have accumulated enough energy and excitement for it :P. To end this post, I would like to share a quote with you to celebrate the beginning of this year’s last month 🙂
Don’t let the past steal your present. This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone.
Until next time!<3