“Beijing is a city with past and present, ancient and modernity, fast and slow life. It is a city full of contradictions. The experience in Beijing depends on the mind-set that the international student wants to give. Beijing has opened my mind, learning from another culture is very enriching. In my free time, I have been learning Chinese with a language partner, which I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn or practice Chinese. There are different activities to experience, such as Beijing opera, visiting the Hutongs (districts with traditional houses), Chinese chess, Tai Chi and international dinner during the weekends with your classmates.”
Daniela Hidalgo. EPMA 2013. Ecuador.
As China’s center of politics and business for generations, Beijing boasts 3000 years of history, throughout which it suffered dramatic transformations. Today, Chinese society is undergoing unprecedented changes, which derive principally from the rapid urbanization.
Recently illustrated by the hosting of the 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing strives to be a ‘world city’ and this way sets the standard for other Chinese cities to follow. It aims to embrace the comforts of modernity while retaining the characteristics of an ancient culture and city typology.
Beijing is China’s second largest city by urban population and is the country’s cultural and educational center. The city is young and ambitious, with a bustling modern nightlife, bars, business districts and art studios as well as being a historic relic. It can be characterized as a fertile, dynamic but fragile environment where contemporary symbols, such as the Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium by Herzog & de Meuron, Rem Koolhaas’s CCTV Tower and the National Performance Arts Center by Paul Andreu, co-exist with various UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the Great Wall of China, Summer Palace, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and the Ming Tombs.
Tsinghua University itself is located in the northwest of the city, on the grounds of a former Qing Dynasty Imperial Garden, in China’s ‘Silicon Valley’ called Zhong Guan Cun, along with various other academic institutions. As such, the university is well connected to all parts of central Beijing by an extensive network of modern public transport. The surrounding mountains and natural landscapes are also within easy reach. Cycling is a great way to move around the campus and there are several bus and subway stops around the university, making these transports ideal to travel into the city and lots of cheap taxis as a solution for late night journeys.