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Connor Vlahos:When even my dreams were in Chinese


Editor's note: We have asked foreign participants of various university summer programs in Shanghai to share their stories. Connor Vlahos is from the 2023 Australian National University (ANU)-East China Normal University (ECNU) Summer Program.


Connor Vlahos on the Waibaidu Bridge, also known as the Garden Bridge, a landmark in Shanghai. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Hello, my name is Connor Vlahos (韦恒), and I am studying Finance and International Relations at ANU. I had the honor of taking part in the ECNU-ANU four-week Chinese Intensive Summer Program which was funded by ANU and the Australian Centre on China in the World.

This was my second time in Shanghai, and this trip made me understand why Shanghai is often referred to as a magical city in China. From its lively center to its beautiful gardens, Shanghai has it all.


Participants of the 2023 ANU-ECNU Summer Program take a group photo at the ECNU campus in Shanghai. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

ECNU in my eyes

My first impression of the ECNU campus was that it is extremely beautiful. Nestled away in the bustling streets of Putuo district, the university campus is the perfect place to study and learn.

The campus has creeks, landmarks and lots of greenery, creating an environment that always made me feel at peace and motivated to learn. The buildings were impressive and further added to the atmosphere of the campus.

On the campus alone you can eat an impressive range of food at the canteen, go for a stroll, play sports, unwind in the bookstore cafe, and meet many interesting and friendly people. There are even a few resident cats which are popular among students.

Study @ ECNU

Another fantastic aspect of ECNU is the teaching staff.

The teachers were extremely committed, engaging, personable, relatable and motivating. Every day they delivered invigorating lessons on the Chinese language and culture, while also organizing numerous field trips to notable sites.

Their dedication went beyond the classroom, reflecting the emphasis on hospitality in Chinese culture. Through the program, we became so immersed that we even started having dreams in Chinese.

This is an exciting milestone for any foreign language learner and shows how transformative this program is!


Connor Vlahos visits Wuhou Temple in Chengdu. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Chengdu, here we go!

A highlight of the trip was going to Chengdu, Sichuan province. There, we got to see the pandas, experience "变脸" and deepen our understanding of Chinese history through museum visits.

Taking a high-speed train to and from Chengdu allowed us to appreciate the stunning scenery of the Chinese countryside, with its sweeping plains and grand rivers that painted a picturesque landscape.

I will cherish these memories forever

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of ANU and ECNU, we became the first Australian students sent by ANU to return to China after the lockdown. This achievement stands as a testament to the monumental efforts of all involved, for which I am immensely grateful.

Through this immersive program, we gained invaluable knowledge of Chinese culture and language, forged lifelong connections, visited significant sites, and reignited our passion for learning Chinese.

The memories, experiences and skills taken from this journey will serve us well for life!

Source: China Daily

Editor: Yvaine Lyu