Kenyan student falls in love with Jinan

By Recheal Mugure Gitau | | Updated: 2023-07-20 15:37
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Editor's note: We have asked expats living in China to share their stories about the cities they work and live in. Recheal Mugure Gitau is from Kenya and she is now studying Chinese language at Shandong Normal University.

Recheal Mugure Gitau. [Photo provided to]

I recall making a short video and making a promise to myself at Daming Lake, a landmark scenic spot in Jinan, capital of Shandong province, that when I return home, I'll make sure I pass my HSK4 exam because I'm definitely coming back to Jinan.

After returning to Kenya, I did indeed pass my exam, and exactly a year later, I returned to Jinan in 2019 and I've been here ever since. Now, whenever I see or pass by Daming Lake, I remember the young Recheal saying those words and feeling motivated.

My name is Recheal Mugure Gitau, and my Chinese name is Gu Ruiqiu. I'm a Kenyan studying Chinese at Shandong Normal University. I came to Jinan in August 2019, alongside many of my countrymates.

The first time I came to Jinan was in August 2018 when my university brought a few students to China for a summer camp. The moment I arrived at Jinan's airport, I was baffled at the extreme differences between my home country and this city. In my mind, I thought, "If this is how Jinan looks, then what about the rest of China?"

The drive to the hotel was pretty amazing. Most of the students had fallen asleep after the 11-hour flight, but as tired as I was, I simply couldn't sleep.

The city was so clean, the buildings were so tall and the roofs had this traditional aspect to it. The infrastructure was so developed and there were small and big rivers across the city. Everything seemed so organized. As we drove on the road, I remember seeing the hill and mountain silhouettes and this just made me more excited. I wondered if I would get to climb those mountains one day.

During the three-week summer camp, we went to the famous Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Beijing Library in China's capital city Beijing. Back in Jinan, we visited tourist attractions such as Baotu Spring and Daming Lake, in addition to other places.

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