“Diving into China” Diary from a NKU International Student

Hi, let me start my story by introducing myself...my name is Tanya Ivette, or at least this was my name until I came to China. In fact, this was the first thing that changed here...here I’m 塔娅, that’s the Chinese name they proposed me at the school when I signed in. I am Mexican; you are probably wondering: what is a Mexican girl doing so far from home and immerse in a totally different culture? Well, I came to China in September 2019 with the objective of learning Chinese and get a master degree in Tourism Management, but I also wanted to learn something about the Chinese world! Don’t get me wrong, in Mexico we’ve heard about China and its culture, but in my 38 years something I’ve learned is that we don’t have to judge anything or anybody from abroad! I wanted to live and experience the life in China...But I didn’t expect this Covid 19 to break out...it definitely changed my plans, my life, just like it happened for everyone.

Right now, one year and eight months after my arrival to China, I’m already studying for my master degree in Tourism Management at Nankai University and I wasn’t able to travel around until this week!

I went to Beijing and visited an amazing place called Baijia Courtyard. It was like traveling in a time machine! When you get to the place, you feel like you are being took back to the Qing Dynasty! Girls and boys dressed up with traditional Chinese clothes welcome you and walk you through a door to the past! The first things you see when you get through that door are the beautiful gardens and the traditional Chinese buildings, just like the ones I imagined I was going to see when I arrived to China instead of the big and bright buildings. Even though this place is right in the city, you are surrounded by natural sounds like water falling, birds singing and workers greeting you every time you encounter them.

Then they take you to a room full of traditional dresses, red, pink, blue, green...and then fine porcelain with the most intricate designs, so delicate that I didn’t dare to touch, being afraid of damaging them!

Afterwards, they walk you to this great dining room, with yellow curtains, wood columns and dragons painting on the walls...and then the show begins!These beautiful ladies dressed in traditional Chinese clothes danced on the rhythm of traditional music, attracting the public.

Right after we finished eating, they had everything beautifully arranged for us to dressed up with traditional court costumes. It was an unbelievable experience! We got to choose the dress we wanted to wear and also the garment for the head. Let me tell you, the girls there make it seem really easy, but it is not: the garment for the head is very heavy and the traditional shoes are not easy to walk in; but they definitely made us look beautiful.

It was one of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve ever had in my life: walking through those fairy tale gardens surrounded by traditional Chinese buildings, eating ancient food and dressing time-honored clothes…that was absolutely a Diving into China experience!

(Provided by TANYA IVETTE ARANDA HERRERA, edited by Davide Francolino and JianjingYun)