As a student of Politics and International Relations in the United Kingdom and Belgium, I had the opportunity to conduct in-depth study on the relations between China and the European Union. Throughout the years I studied on the one hand, the history and political system of China; and on the other hand the history and development of the European Union. Then I went further and studied the connections, especially those related to trade, between these two great international actors.
However, this is not a political analysis of the relations between China and the European Union. This work has a more personal note and it describes my dream to go, visit, and experience the unique culture and lifestyle of China. Being born and raised in Europe, I have always been in contact with and influenced by the ‘Western culture’, so much so that the older I got the more I earned to escape this continent, and experience the world. For an unknown reason I was first and foremost attracted by the mystique of the Asian sphere. As a result, my first trip outside of the European continent was to Asia; but this was a short trip which did not even come close to China. This only strengthened my dream and desire to visit and maybe, if possible, even live in China.
Throughout my years abroad I applied to numerous exchange programmes which sent students from the United Kingdom to China for a period of time. I applied for every session, but I never managed to get in. Instead of putting me down, this fuelled my drive to get to China no matter what. My next step was to look for jobs and internships in China, but this is easier said than done. I researched local, national and international companies but did not manage to find a lot of possibilities; and for the few that I found I was either not eligible or not accepted. During all this time, I was listening to my friends’ stories from and about China, and their words and experiences were becoming reality in my mind. I saw the sun glittering on the rooftops in Beijing, and I was taking in the scenery from the top of the Great Wall. Even these simple day dreams were like a breath of fresh air for me. I was feeling landlocked in my old continent.
Regardless of the economic and political relations between the European Union and China, there is a clear need for stronger cultural and societal ties between the European and the Chinese peoples. High-level meetings will always occur, but day-to-day connections from one corner of the world to the other and between normal people almost never happen. Europeans have always looked too much to their West, now the emphasis and their attention needs to shift towards their East. Understanding and accepting different cultures is one of the ways of creating a happy and well-balanced society, so we all need to be open-minded. Europeans need to create more ties with China and vice-versa in order for both societies to flourish in this ever more connected world. Differences are the things that make each and every one of us unique, but we only have one life in which to experience everything this world has to offer. We have to start now.
I started a while ago and cannot get enough of what different cultures, especially the Chinese one, have to offer. Although for many different reasons I have not yet managed to visit China, my dream has not gotten smaller, it actually grew. Opportunities, dreams, failures come and go, but my desire to visit China and to experience its unique culture will never disappear. Even if I will (somehow) travel to this wonderful place, I know that I will not stop there and that I will find any excuse to come back. In order to widen one’s horizons, one has to take a leap of faith; and I am ready to jump with the hope that I will land in China.