"I wanted to go to China one day, because that was my dream when I was a kid. Studying abroad in China inspired me in performing arts and provided me with a broader career stage."
- Timothy from Sweden
Why did you decide to study abroad in China?
When I was young, I was so interested in Jackie Chan’s movies that I got to find out more about China and Chinese culture like GongFu and XiQu (Chinese traditional theater) by myself via the Internet. I want to go to China one day because that was my dream when I was a kid.
During my undergraduate study in theater in Finland, I was provided with a super good opportunity to study abroad. We have some exchange programs to China or to India to study Asian theater arts. Of course, I went to China and started to learn the Peking Opera in the National Academic of Chinese Theatre Arts.
What were the best parts of being an international student in China?
I think Beijing is a really good city because it has the top universities, the culture, the grandeur, and history, which means there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on, especially for an international student. In 2014, I traveled back to Beijing, several years after my study there.
The best part of my study is that we always have private lessons. During the performance class, the teacher would give me one to one class for three hours. For me, it is also good that you can apply for a corridor in the campus because you can practice whenever you want and don’t need to worry about housing. I do appreciate this great opportunity to learn the amazing performing art in China!
How has studying abroad impacted your career?
Studying abroad in China inspired me in performing arts and provided me with a broader career stage. Learning Peking Opera has helped me to develop to be a more professional actor in Sweden and impacts a lot to my performance. This Chinese art gives me plentiful tools such as stage fighting and body language that can be used when I performing other shows in Europe. At the same time, I gained a broader view of what I can do from my study in China. Now I am also an acting instructor. I can teach Peking Opera and organize quite a few workshops on Chinese arts in Stockholm.
What was the student life like in China?
I can say it is an amazing and unique experience for me to live and study in China. In my spare time, venturing out to eat is a joy in a Chinese city. It is really nice to get out of the campus and find Yangrouchuaner (BBQ sticks) in the summer time.
Another my favorite in Beijing is the tea place (Chinese café). I usually sit there the whole afternoon to drink tea with Chinese people and learning Chinese from them. Of course, you can easily find cinemas in the city as well as some terrific music bars.
Do you have any tips for international students to get involved in Chinese university student life?
One useful tip is that you can learn a little bit Chinese before you go there. Maybe just some simple names of the food will help you a lot. Watching Chinese movies or chatting with local students is also a good way to learning Chinese. I would also recommend taking a summer course or a short-term program in China to learn the language or experience Chinese culture.