Latvian Student in Lanzhou
    2013-02-27 06:54:36         Web Editor: Guo Jing


The place to meet Jana Danica is at the Lanzhou University library. Jana has been studying Chinese for 6 and half years, and earned a bachelor's degree in sinology. For the last 2 and half years she's been working on an environmental law program taught in Chinese in Lanzhou University. On the phone she says nothing makes her more comfortable now than being surrounded by knowledge and Chinese, and that makes the library the perfect place to meet.

Jana looks energetic with her short blonde hair and a neat Chinese style shirt. After a short introduction, she began to excitedly share her love of all things Chinese.

Jana says Chinese is one of the two things she loves the most in her life, but how she discovered it was quite accidental.

"I was studying Arabic, but one day one of my friends asked me to go to this Chinese lesson with her. After this one class I went there every day and I changed my major to sinology. Then I came to Lanzhou for my master's degree. There are two things that I love the most in my life. One is Chinese; the other is environmental protection. And now I'm studying environmental law in Chinese!"

Jana admits though her major seems like a perfect combination of her two passions the class work is often just as boring as many other students find it around the world.

Talking about why she picked Lanzhou instead of bigger cities like Beijing or Shanghai, Jana says she wanted to find a relatively unknown city where there aren't a lot of other foreigners and with new discoveries. Lanzhou fit the bill and beef noodles were her first major discovery.

"I like to eat a lot of noodles. I remember when I was in Latvia, I didn't like noodles, but when I came to China, I found they were great. They're really spicy; without spices they aren't interesting at all. Back in my country we put a lot of sauce on pastas, but the most beautiful thing about beef noodles in China is the minimalism--just noodles, spices and a little bit of meat and it tastes great."

Beef noodles aren't the only Chinese culinary delights she discovered in Lanzhou. Jana says she also loves jian bing and ji dan guan bing ĘC two Chinese style pancakes often made and sold by street vendors. She's now friends with the vendors and they now give her a friendly discount every time she buys some.

Jana says she loves to make friends everywhere, and while Lanzhou contains two major ethnic groups--the majority Han Chinese and minority Islamic Hui ĘC she hasn't find any problem making friends with any of them.

"The Han here are not so formal. They are quite open. They are happy-go-lucky kind of people who love to get together and love to play a lot of drinking games like Hua Quan. And there are a lot of Muslim restaurants here. The Hui are very kind. They love to see foreigners and if we go to one of the restaurants a few times, it's easy become friends with the owners. You can become really close to people in a very short time. "

Jana says she speaks Chinese with her Chinese friends most of the time and gradually has begun using commonplace sayings such as "en," to affirm what the other person is saying, with Chinese and her Latvian family alike.

"En, en. Chinese people say this when they are on the phone. And it just sticks to you. But we don't do this in Latvia. And my family finds it strange. Last time I was home, they were like, 'what happened to you?'

Jana says China has become essential to her life and she can't imagine living somewhere where there are no Chinese at all. There are very few Chinese in Latvia so Jana is seriously considering settling down in Lanzhou.

"Everyone has the biggest love of their life. But to me it's not a guy or a man; it's everything Chinese at the moment. Sometimes I like to take a walk by myself in the evening along the Yellow River side. During the summer you see a lot of people there, boyfriends and girlfriends. You can have some drinks, a cup of tea, and it makes me feel cozy. Feeling cozy is like feeling at home. And all the little things like drinking tea and seeing people enjoy one another makes me feel as if I'm at home."

Jana says she has a Chinese boyfriend and they are in a very good, stable relationship. Her boyfriend has taught her how to handle everything in a more Chinese way and Jana says she is quite used to everything in China now. She simply hopes that Lanzhou and China can stay the way she loves it.

"I just hope that traditional Chinese things won't disappear. Every city is getting so similar to other cities. I hope that things in Lanzhou will remain the same, like the beef noodles and the customs that other parts of China don't have, and won't be influenced by other countries like America. That's my wish for China."

For CRI, I'm Wang Wei.


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