Name : Mino Andriantsimahavandy
Country of Origin : Madagascar
I hastily opened the envelope and from the very first line of the letter, I understood. My dream finally came true with this simple mail. It said: “Congratulations, Miss Andriantsimahavandy Mino. The Chinese Council Scholarship awarded you with a full scholarship…”. My heartbeats went faster, my hands shook. I was accepted by Fudan University to do a Master in Chinese linguistics and applied linguistics. China? What country is that like? To be frank, I had no idea. I didn’t know anything about China, except only a little about their culture. But for a moment, I’ve longed to leave Antananarivo. I’ve longed to live on my own. I wanted to be free. And here is the beginning of my journey to China.
我急忙打开信封，看到信的第一行，我就明白了，这封简单的信件是我梦想的起点。上面写着：“恭喜你，Andriansimahavandy Mino 小姐。中国国家留学基金管理委员会决定授予你全额奖学金……”。我的心跳加快，手在不停地颤抖。我被复旦大学录取了，攻读汉语语言学和应用语言学硕士学位。中国？那是什么样的国家？坦率地说，我不知道。我对中国几乎一无所知，只对他们的文化略知一二。但有那么一刻，我渴望离开塔那那利佛。我一直渴望一个人生活，我想要自由。我的中国之旅由此起航。
Before enrolling to Fudan, I had to follow a one-year program of Mandarin in Nanjing Normal University. My classmates were all foreigners while the teachers were all Chinese. We made a very prompt progress in our language mastery. And I was glad to be the best student in my class. But we had very few contacts with Chinese people around our ages. So, life went on and finally I had to move to Shanghai.
I felt so small and from the very first day I reached Shanghai, I totally fell in love. It was beautiful. Nothing to do with the first picture I showed you. No! Don’t blame me for lacking patriotism please! Who doesn’t like modernity? Who doesn’t like convenience, cleanness, freedom and a life full of joy? Shanghai meant all these things to me. And I was amazed to spend 4 years of my young existence there. I had classes with a majority of Chinese students. We made friends and I was immersed in Shanghainese way of life. We hung out every weekend. Sometimes we took the bus from our dormitory directly to the Bund. Some other times, we changed subway lines a million times before arriving to the zoo… Every time I got out of my dorm, it seemed to me Shanghai was different every day. There was a lot there to explore and to discover. But more unexpectedly, the night-time was totally different.
我感觉自己太渺小了，到上海的第一天，我就彻底爱上了这座城市，它太美了。跟我儿时住的地方简直是天壤之别。不！请不要怪我不爱国！谁不喜欢现代都市？谁不喜欢便利、干净、自由和充满欢乐的生活？上海对于我来说就是这样的都市。我很开心在那里度过了我 4 年的青春。我的同学大多是中国人，我交了许多朋友，每天像上海人一样生活。每周末我们都会出去玩，有时我们从宿舍坐公交车直接到外滩玩，有时我们换乘无数次地铁才到动物园……每次出门，我都感觉上海变了一个样儿，有很多东西需要我们探索发现。更令人惊喜的是，上海的夜晚与白天截然不同。
But life got harder and harder. Even if I had the best grades in Nanjing it was very, very difficult to follow the classes in Fudan. Not only was I still not good enough in Chinese to understand perfectly the teachers, but also, my major appeared to be the most complex one. I heard that linguistics was “the math of Human arts” and Chinese applied linguistics was just not a piece of cake!
Nevertheless, the department appointed me a personal tutor. With him, I worked every evening after canteen rush around 5:30 p.m. He made me buy and read Chinese newspapers out loud every time we met. He explained me the new characters, I took notes and this way, at the end of the second semester I was ready to participate more in class.
但幸运的是，系里给我指派了一位私人导师。我们每天晚上食堂高峰期后，大概 5 点半开始学习。每次见面，他都让我买中文报纸，大声朗读。他给我讲解生字，我跟着做笔记。所以，在第二学期结束时，我已经准备好积极融入课堂。
By saving on my monthly stipend, I could spend the next winter holidays in France.
In Paris, I could sense romanticism at every place. It was also very attractive. One day, I took the subway to go to my sister’s house at the periphery of Paris. The subway stopped, and I wanted to exit. But the door didn’t open! The French woman next to me laughed and pressed at a button to open the door! What? In Shanghai every subway door automatically opens? Paris, how could you be so obsolete?
And then, I missed my Shanghai. As it happened, for me Madagascar meant the past, France the present, and China the future.
At the moment, I’m unfortunately not in China due to the ongoing pandemic situation. But I know China is my “jia wai zhi jia” and I’m confident I will go back there pretty soon.
If you would like to contribute your story, feel free to contact us.