The Heilongjiang University is the largest university in Heilongjiang Province, and it is in the capital city Harbin.
This university has over 40,000 students studying different courses and the number of foreign students account for about 1000.
Russian students make up the bulk of foreign students followed by Koreans.
There are several Germans, Swedish, Americans, and others coming from Japan, Yemen, and India.
On the African front, we are just six Africans out of 40,000 students and we are very noticeable where ever we go or if we are absent in class.
The six Africans are, Lefeela Joseph Nalane and the only girl amongst us Phokoane Connie Monokoane both from Lesotho, Christian Tshilumba Tshiamala from DR Congo, Danilo Santos Armando from Mozambique and Abu Max-Konneh and myself from Sierra Leone
We have integrated into one family and we move together, eat together, socialize together and we have been helping ourselves a lot, especially when three of us arrived last year (Max, Christian and I) we were really helped by the others.
The university is the best for studying Chinese language and they have been maintaining that standard over the years.
Heide, as it is called in Chinese (Heilongjiang Daxue), is very big with modern and ancient building. The ancient buildings were built by Russians in the 1940s when the university started operation.
This province is in the northeast of China and it is sharing border with Russia, so that makes it the coldest area in China.
Life in campus is good as the Chinese students like making friends with foreigners especially if you speak English, because most of them study English so they are looking out for help. The girls are very friendly and will always make a proposal for them to teach us Chinese and we in turn teach them English.
When a Chinese speaks English, he will always ask the following questions, ‘hello what is your name and where do you come from?’
These questions have become so monotonous in our ears that currently we don’t answer, or we tell them ‘I am from my country’.
Others will ask ‘are you from America?’ If you are from America they will hold you in high esteem. Every Chinese wants to speak like an American.
When we go out shopping, the traders too think we are from America and they will increase prices as they think we can’t speak Chinese. It is very interesting as we have so much fun all around.
The university has everything you can dream about from football pitch to swimming pool, from supermarket to barbing shop. Different types of food are available in the canteens and restaurants all over campus.
The building housing our dormitory is very comfortable for us as there we have our classrooms, restaurant and a provision store; this makes it easier for us during the winter, because we can stay inside for days without going out.
The foreign students department in the university is doing so much for foreign students just to make them feel at home and enjoy their studies.
A trip to a skiing resort for two days, Peking Opera performance, Christmas Eve dinner at the highest tower in Asia, trip to Ice festival, Sun Island, visiting the Siberian Tiger Park etc, are some of the events that are on offer.
Football is not popular in this part of the country; in fact Heilongjiang doesn’t have a football stadium. The popular sports are Figure Skating, Skiing, Ice Hockey and Basketball.
Because of Yao Ming, every Chinese dream is to play basketball.
There will be more events for us during the summer as we were told by our friends and the office.
Just before we went for holidays, the cinema in the campus played Blood Diamonds. The next day in class I was the centre of attraction as some of these Russian students who watched the movie were asking me all kinds of questions about RUF, why our country is so poor, and why so many guns in my country.
The worst question I was asked was whether I was a member of the RUF.
It was difficult to answer all their questions but indeed one thing I told them was the Russians were responsible for most of these atrocities as they were producing the cheap Kalashnikov (AK) rifles that have brought mayhem in the continent of Africa.
One thing is for sure, Heide is one of the best universities in China and they are still maintaining their repute by improving the education, the life on campus with modern dormitory and more social and recreation infrastructures to give students more determination to study well.
By Austin Thomas in China