PARK SEOHYUN Division of Chinese Language and Literature '17
I love everything about China. I am not sure why, but whenever I try to come up with the reason why I start to recall all my memories of living in Singapore as a child. When I was young, my family moved to Singapore due to my father’s job. I had a great time interacting with my Chinese-Singaporean friends, which is why I have such a good impression of the time. My good feelings naturally spread towards China, despite not knowing anything about the country. I studied it immensely to learn more as it fascinated me throughout my life.
The Search for a New Adventure
As a first year student, I was a newbie stepping out into the real world. Ironically, not much changed. At first, everything in the new environment seemed fresh, but over time, it all became a routine. I started to ponder the ideal university life and how my imagined thoughts were crushed by reality. I was more than a little disappointed. Then, just like that, my first semester at Sookmyung came to an end. This is when my new adventure started, which came knocking at my door. The Division of Chinese Language and Literature, my major, started recruiting students interested in studying Chinese language abroad in Shanghai, China. I did not hesitate to open the door and to set sail on a new adventure.
Fascinating Architectures and Nature in China
Shanghai felt like Europe, so I almost forgot I was living in China. Shanghai is the “mecca” of China’s finance, trade, and industry, and it became the place of concession for England, the U.S, and France after the signing of the Treaty of Nanjing. Shanghai has an entirely different color depending on which district you enter. It was extremely fascinating. The area I most favored was Thames Town, which had the mood of the New World and England and was located in the French district. It is called ‘The Streets of Western Cities in China’, for it shows a century’s worth of Shanghai history and culture through modern architecture that is superbly matched with Shikumen, a traditional way of construction. Simply put, the area is China’s Itaewon or Garosugil. Although people reside in the area, there is always a bustle with tourists trying to take pictures and appreciating the beauty of the place. I believe the area was created to reflect the history of Shanghai and to show China’s devotion to preserve history.
When Shanghai comes to people’s minds, most automatically picture the Pudong Skyline. I also agree that it is amazing and iconic. I was speechless when I gazed upon its design the creativity of the Chinese people. How was it possible to imagine such a unique building construct? However, the Pudong Skyline was not the most eye-catching architecture for me. Personally, I loved the 1933 Lao Chang Fang building. In the past, the building was East Asia’s largest butchery or slaughterhouse, but now, it is being used as a creative industrial complex after renovation of its interior. Some parts of the butchery still remain intact, however. It is amazing how a slaughterhouse could be transformed into a tourist attraction. What else can be more shocking or leave a longer lasting impression than something like this?
Xihu, Hangzhou is a great place to feel the grandeur of nature. Xihu, an artificial lake, is one of China’s top ten scenic spots. Its scenery is most beautiful on days when it is a little foggy, at night when the moon is bright, or during sunrise. I was lucky enough to go when there was some fog. Looking down at Xihu from the peak of the Leifeng Pagoda helped me to experience what true inner peace is. Along with that, I was able to understand why great writers in the past praised the place’s beauty.
Precious Memories in China
My time in China gifted me the kind of freedom I could not have in Korea. Though it was not a long sojourn, I experienced a lot in China. I believe I felt the mood of a variety of cultures in just one city, Shanghai. My experience helped motivate me to have fun when it is time to play and to study when I have to study. My hope is that Sookmyungians see a new side of China and gain a positive perception of China through my personal experience. I strongly recommend all Sookmyungians to not miss a chance to study abroad in order to gain new life experiences and views.