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An amazing introduction to Chinese culture, education, and science

Updated: Aug 10, 2021 By Egor Smolensky Print
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We conduct scientific experiments with students of the College of Underwater Acoustics of Harbin Engineering University on the ice of the Sungari River.

I first met students from China when I was studying at a university in Russia. A delegation of Chinese students and professors from Harbin Engineering University came to visit us. I was assigned as an escort. For the Chinese, it was hard to pronounce my original Russian name, so I chose the easy name Joni for myself. Together with the students, we walked around the campus of the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU), attended lectures, talked a lot and learned a lot of interesting things about our countries. In winter, students from Harbin Engineering University (HEU) came to us for experiments, and we were able to work together and share our experience.

Large buildings that take your breath away.
A delegation of students from the Far Eastern Federal University together with Chinese students in the park of the campus of Harbin Engineering University.

In 2019, FEFU and HEU organized an internship for Russian students in Harbin. I was very happy about it. At HEU, we were told very interesting lectures, and Chinese students organized excursions for us inside the university and through the museums of Harbin. I really liked Harbin for its austerity and combination of modern technologies, buildings, infrastructure with a rich history. The Chinese students and staff were very friendly, always paying attention to us and asking if we were comfortable staying with them.

We are going on a tour of the museums of Harbin organized by students of the Harbin Engineering University.
An amazing combination of classical and modern architecture.

We were placed in a foreign dorm, where we could communicate with other foreigners. One evening, when we were returning from the university, we saw students from different countries playing volleyball near the hostel. We asked for permission and were kindly invited to join the team. This is how we got to know other foreigners and were able to communicate with them. There were guys from Pakistan, Asia and African republics. I also remember the moment with the search for a guitar. Russian young guys like to get together to listen and sing songs with a guitar. But we did not have a guitar with us, so we went to look for it and successfully found it, one of the students kindly provided it. It was a cool pastime.

During the day, we were told various lectures. HEU employees prepared a rich program for us, in which everything was planned literally by the minute. The entire program was in English. The lectures were interesting and informative. At the end of each lesson, we could talk to the teachers and ask all the questions. There was almost no language barrier. All the professors were happy to make contact. At the end of our internship, there was a conference where Chinese and Russian students spoke.

Festive dinner on the occasion of the meeting of Russian students.
Extraordinary street food that was sold on the colorful streets of Harbin.

About food. When we arrived in Harbin, we were shown a canteen for students. Russian and Chinese food is different, in Russia they add less spices and pepper, but we were able to find dishes to taste. Sometimes we went to the night markets on one of the streets of Harbin. There was delicious street food, various sausages, vegetables and desserts on sticks. On the last night of our internship, Chinese students took us to one of the restaurants, where they offered to choose the dishes themselves. Russian crazy students decided to try dangers food (some maggots on the grill)! Even the Chinese refused to eat it. I ate one larva, which tasted like a squirrel. It was interesting to try this, but I did not eat these larvae anymore. When we gathered together with Chinese students and teachers at the same table, we sang old Soviet songs (the most popular "Katyusha"). The Chinese sang in their own language, the Russians in their own language. There was a sense of great friendship and cohesion!

We walked around Harbin a lot, studied its streets and architecture. One day we had a great time at the local water park, and then we were recommended to go to the Chinese sauna next to our hostel. In Harbin, I liked to ride the subway. It is clear, modern and technologically advanced. I was accompanied by my Russian girlfriend, who knew Chinese and controlled me so that I wouldn't get lost.

After the internship, we exchanged contacts with Chinese students, with some of them we still communicate, we congratulate each other on different holidays.

A unique ice city near Harbin is built every year on the occasion of the New Year.

In the winter of 2020, when all the borders were still open, I myself went to Harbin to celebrate the New Year and visit the ice city. I also managed to meet my friends from HEU and even participate in scientific experiments on the ice of the Sungari River.

Magic festival at the opening of the Ice city.

While visiting the Ice City, I met a student photographer from Belarus. He won one of the competitions in China and as a prize he was given an excursion to the Ice City. I met some guys from Italy who came to Harbin for a business meeting. They are engaged in creating fashion design and promoting their brand. I also managed to meet a student from Shanghai who was studying in Australia and came to visit his friends in Harbin for the New Year. These were amazing and unexpected meetings that gave a lot of emotions!

I am in the building of the College of Underwater Acoustics of the Harbin Engineering University getting acquainted with the scientific works of my Chinese comrades.

The next day, I went to visit my friends at Harbin Engineering University to meet with my Chinese friends. By that time, I had learned a few phrases in Chinese and was able to tell the taxi driver where to go. It was a great achievement for me. At HEU, we had tea with my professor and students, and I was invited to a science experiment, on the ice of the Sungari River. With Chinese students, we took measurements of various equipment. Chinese students told me about studying at their university and what they do. I really liked it and became interested. I decided that I wanted to study in China.

When I returned home, I collected all the documents for admission to Ph.D graduate school and sent them to Harbin Engineering University.

In the summer of 2020, I received a response that I successfully passed all the tests and entered. When I entered a Chinese university, I was given the Chinese name- 奥格(Ao gé).But unfortunately, we can't go to China yet because of the general quarantine since September, we have started remote couples. The distance learning format is interesting and very unusual. But I am very much looking forward to the opening of the borders so that we can live, study and work in China.

My name is Egor Smolensky. I'm 24 years old. I'm from Russia. He studied at the Far Eastern Federal University in the city of Vladivostok on the border with China, Heilongjiang province. I got a degree in Instrument Engineering. I have always been interested in new technologies, innovations, and various equipment. At the university, I was actively engaged in scientific activities, worked in the laboratory, went to scientific experiments, participated in exhibitions and seminars. One of my favorite activities is traveling, visiting new places and meeting people. In 2020, I entered the PhD program at Harbin Engineering University and now I am studying remotely.


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