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If people are like I was 4 years ago, then there is a chance they have never heard of the city of Lanzhou, let alone heard of Lanzhou University. I was very fortunate and lucky at the same time to discover this wonderful spot of China and it's amazing university.
In 2011, I seriously decided to commit to the long journey of learning mandarin. Like most foreigners whose knowledge of China and it's culture is limited or is pretty much equal to none, I looked at schools in Beijing and Shanghai. Westerners have at least heard of these cities. At that time, a co-worker, of mine whose wife is from Lanzhou, suggested I go online check if Lanzhou University had a program in learning mandarin. To my surprise, Landa (兰州大学) as it is known here, had a program which covered the beginner's level to the advanced level for learning mandarin. I then decided to contact the university and eagerly awaited their answer. On December 2011, I was extremely pleased to find out that they had accepted me into their program. This was the beginning of an amazing 3 years of study at this university. With just basic knowledge of a few phrases in mandarin, I arrived in Lanzhou on February 2012.
The university is located in a beautiful setting in the heart of the city. The campus has wonderful gardens, plenty of playgrounds and many resourceful facilities like the library. The main campus is also very accessible by public transportation such as the public bus and is very close to the train station.
Lanzhou is not yet a very well-known city and so westerners in the city are very few. This made Lanzhou University the ideal spot to learn the language as I was seldom able to use English or my native French language.
The mandarin program has a well organized curriculum from the start. The teachers and professors are very knowledgeable in their field and made the courses extremely interesting and vivid. It was expected that students needed to work hard and do homework and prepare presentations, but what a great feeling it was when I was finally able to converse fluently and read my first essay without too much difficulties. It was so rewarding that it gave me the desire to even work harder and attend all the various classes offered.
The vibrant culture and the multiple minority groups found in Lanzhou makes this city even more fascinating. It is especially reflected in it's cuisine and the different religions found all around. I was surprised to find out that Chinese people indeed eat a lot of potatoes and pasta. I was therefore quite happy to see that these main ingredients are used in most dishes. The Lanzhou beef noodle dish, like the locals crave for it, became one of my favourite dish also, a must in the morning. The city is filled with various religion groups. My Muslim friends had no problem finding a mosque to go to and my Christians friends quite easily found a church around. As a Catholic myself, I was also able to attend a beautiful midnight mass in the largest Catholic church in Lanzhou close to the university. Of course, my Buddhist friends were also able to go to the various temples around.
The very professional attitude of the professors, the fine mandarin language curriculum offered, the reputation of the university as the number one university in the North West of China and it's fine teaching, the extracurricular classes offered to learn the Chinese culture, the trips free of charge offered once a year by the school, the cost of leaving which is 3 times less than the major big cities, and let's not forget the wonderful people of Lanzhou, made this university the ideal spot to learn the very rich mandarin language. If I had to choose again which university to go to, I would not hesitate one second and would again choose Lanzhou University. I will miss this university, it's people and the wonderful friends I have made during these last 6 semesters I have attended Landa. It would also not be proper of me to leave Landa and not to thanks all the people from the university who have made this study period such a success. Thank you to all of you.