Voice of International students of NKU



(Translated by Zhang Yaping, Proofread by Sun Wei ) German girl Zhou Jingya: she fell in love with China at the age of 14 and resumed her love for Chinese characters three years later.


She, a German girl, fell in love with Chinese at the age of 14, just to challenge herself.


She, with the passion for oracle bone inscriptions, visited the Yinxu and took part in the competitions, winning the best results.


She, keeping her three-year promise, came to China again to renew her love for Chinese characters ......


She is Zhou Jingya, a German student at Nankai University and a 2018 undergraduate student majoring in Chinese Language and Culture in the College of Chinese Language and Culture.


Recently, Zhou won the Best Language Award in the 2021 Oracle Bone Inscriptions Cup International Student Speech Contest "Me and Chinese Characters". This is the first time that Nankai University has participated in this competition and the first time that Zhou has made a speech in Chinese in a large competition.


Zhou Jingya (Front Row, Third from the Left)

 Winner of Best Language Award


In 2015, when she was still in high school, Zhou stepped out of her comfort zone and participated in a Sino-German exchange program. It was her first time in China, and she spent 10 months studying Chinese in Jiamusi, Heilongjiang Province.



Zhou Jingya (Left) and High School FriendPhotographed in 2016


In fact, Zhou Jingyamade her own decision to choose a country to study on exchange. She said," I didn't find it challenging to exchange to Europe and America because Germans grow up learning English, and English shares a wealth of similarities with German. And I also found out by chance that I could go to China for an exchange, so I chose China." Before that exchange study, Zhou knew very little about China and Chinese culture.


Knowing that Zhou had chosen to study in China, her parents favored her decision. However, they thought it was essentially a "child's simple passing thought" and didn't care much about it. Only when Zhou was about to dep realized that their daughter was serious. Although they were a little concerned about her, they gave her their support.


Zhou Jingya(Left) and her mother


In this way, at the age of 14, this little German girl came to China for an exchange. Her high school Chinese teacher gave her the Chinese name "Zhou Jingya". “Jing” means tranquilness and “Ya” means elegance. This name is not only the first impression of her, but also a good wish and expectation for her.


Looking back on her experience of learning Chinese, Zhou still feels a little "heartache". As a beginner,Chinese characters were "strange symbols" to her - difficult to read, recognize, and write. "When I look at my own 'crooked' Chinese characters, I want to cry." Zhou Jingya says with a smile.


However, she did not back down, but studied carefully and practiced repeatedly. As a result, she progressed a lot with the witness of matts papers.


As she continued to study, Zhou gained a new understanding of the structural layout and proportions of Chinese characters. Chinese characters have the beauty of symmetry, balance, completeness, opposition, and flow. Calligraphy, too, is a painting of the heart. The Chinese people's pursuit of the beauty of Chinese characters is also the pursuit of the beauty of human nature. At that time, she truly understood the meaning of "the style is the man " and fell in love with Chinese culture.



Zhou JingyaSecond Leftwith the Chinese Family


The short exchange program soon came to an end. However, her enthusiasm for Chinese never stopped. In 2018, she returned to China to study Chinese language literature at Nankai University to continue her love andpassion for Chinese characters.


Today, Zhou can speak fluent Chinese and writes neat Chinese characters. She has also been diligent in her professional studies. Her teacher recognized her ability and recommended her to participate in speech contests.


When it comes to the key to learning Chinese well, Zhou believes that it is important to listen and practice more, and it is also essential to create a language environment. When it comes to coping with the difficulties in vocabulary and intonation, Zhou Jingya said, "I am still learning slowly by accumulating through constant memorization and finding my sense."


"I mainly wanted to go to Anyang to study and practice, and I participated in the competition by the way." Zhou joked about the opportunity to participate in the 2021 Oracle Bone Inscriptions Cup International Student Speech Contest "Me and Chinese Characters".



Zhou Jingya in Yinxu Ruins


Anyang, Henan, is known as the "ancient capital of the seven dynasties". As the home of the oracle bones inscription, some 150,000 pieces of oracle bones have been unearthed at the Yinxu. Zhou recalls, "When I took a course in philology, my teacher talked about the evolution of Chinese characters. At that time, I felt that the evolution of the characters was amazing, and it was very rewarding to be able to identify the characters based on their shapes. It was a rare opportunity for me to see a real oracle bone inscription."



Original Ancient Writing Photographed by Zhou Jingya


During her practicum, her instructor recommended Zhou Jingya to participate in the competition. Instead of repeating the similar experiences of other international students, she determined to tell her interesting story with Chinese characters fromher own unique perspective.


Zhou Jingya's speech won the judges' unanimous praisefor its interaction and innovation. After the competition, she said, "This is just a small step on my way to learning Chinese, the longer it takes, the more fun it will be."


This competition is just a small surprise in Zhou Jingya's Chinese learning career. About the future, Zhou Jingya plans to go to graduate school and continue studying Chinese language and literature.


"Nowadays, China is developing rapidly in every aspect, with new things like take-out and bike-sharing coming out all the time. I am also fascinated by the strong human touch in China. I look forward to traveling to more places in China in the future and experiencing more cultural sceneries." Zhou Jingya said.



Zhou Jingya on her study tour