Tsinghua University is arguably one of the best universities in China. Besides its current reputation, the university and its grounds have been subject to the burdens of upheavals, wars, and challenges of China during the 1900s. Nevertheless, it persevered.
Every day I wake up and remind myself to do something that will make me remember the day. I begin most days waking up at 6AM and start my morning jog and exercise. These are the moments of the day when I focus on myself, my accomplishments, and how I can improve myself in the next 24 hours.
Before I began doing this, I was completely and utterly lost at campus. Tsinghua is a gigantic campus, the buildings and the numbering of the buildings are difficult to memorize at first, and the Chinese work at fast paces. Therefore, moving in was a hassle even after living in Beijing for 6 months. Additionally, I barely knew the neighborhood of Wudaokou. I was overwhelmed and confused when I first arrived.
How did I overcome the overwhelming sense of being lost?
Make friends. Make friends in line, chat with the doorman, make friends during lunch, talk to people, talk to as many people as you can and I’m sure most of them feel the same way you do. Even for Chinese students, the idea of moving to new places is scary regardless of where you are from. Eventually I connected with others by WeChat and ended up in International Student group chats, event chats, even party chats. Be open, and don’t be afraid to jump in and out of friend groups.
For the first week students might was to go out to bars, or clubs, or sight see the city. Go out. I’ve met so many students and people from across campus by taking small steps and sticking my neck out. This is the first step.
The second step is to attend events hosted by associations. At Tsinghua there is a student association called Tsinghua Shuo (or Tsinghua Talks). It is an association that brings together Chinese students and foreign students. The first event that was hosted was a Mixer. Some friends in my group didn’t attend and boy, did they miss out.
I met students from Japan, Korea, Germany, Australia… You name it! Now, my closest friends are those I met at that Mixer. Yes, I went alone but I came out knowing new people from around the world. Lesson: Don’t be afraid, never lose a chance to make new friends.
The third step: Be yourself. People won’t like you unless you like yourself, and the only way to like yourself is to be yourself.