Cao Bo Zhang: ‘I was choosing between Paris, Moscow and Minsk’

Around 15,000 foreign students currently study in Belarus and now that the country is joining the Bologna Process, education in Belarus should appear even more attractive
Around 15,000 foreign students currently study in Belarus and now that the country is joining the Bologna Process, education in Belarus should appear even more attractive. It’s interesting to see the impression created by our country on tomorrow’s professionals. Cao Bo Zhang, who studies at the Belarusian State University’s Institute of Journalism, has spent the past five years in Minsk. The would-be Chinese journalist shared with us his impressions about Belarus and Belarusians.

Cao Bo Zhang is familiar with many of Belarus’ historical monuments

“I had the choice of going to Europe, Russia or Belarus. French educational fees are not too expensive but accommodation costs are really high. Food and clothes cost about the same in Minsk as in China, and local educational fees aren’t too expensive. The Belarusian State University is well known in my home country. I didn’t want to study in Russia, as it’s not as safe as Belarus and I’ve been told that there is an element of nationalism, especially in Moscow, as well as thieves, at railway stations for example. Accordingly, I had no desire to go there,” he tells us.

He studied newspapers and TV programmes to find out about Belarus and, on initially hearing about our country, didn’t realise that Belarus is an independent state. “I remember the day I arrived in Minsk, in 2010. It wasn’t too cold, as the weather was almost the same as in China. However, local air was very clean,” he adds.

“Chinese universities work differently, using exams and tests rather than credits. We choose six subjects in total, such as the history of Chinese journalism, and the world history of journalism or literature. We can even choose mathematics. In Belarus, you need to collect credits or pass tests in all subjects, which I think is no bad thing. The Belarusian State University creates the impression of a modern European university,” he says, continuing, “I also love your hostels, which are new and modern. Living beside Belarusian neighbours has helped me learn the language, as people have so eagerly and patiently explained those things that I’ve failed to understand.”

He tells us, “Belarusians are very polite, always offering help on being asked, and being so open. They might seem reserved but they aren’t so in comparison to the Chinese, as they are at ease with foreigners, which isn’t the case for us. I’ve also been impressed by Belarusians always shaking hands in greeting. We do this on first meeting, or at any official meeting, but it’s not everyday practice.”

“I often watch films, visiting SilverScreen and Belarus cinemas, which are so modern. Most films screened in Belarus are American, while in China, around half of all films are domestically produced. In line with the law, our cinemas are obliged to screen a certain share of Chinese films,” the student adds.

“After graduating, I hope to find employment as a lecturer at a Chinese university. There are also companies in Belarus, such as at the Belarusian-Chinese Industrial Park, where I might find a job as a translator,” he concludes.

By Pavel Martyshenko
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