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A life-changing experience: Embracing culture and nature in Shandong

By Shoaib Kahut | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-07-27 15:24

Editor's note: We have asked expats living in China to share their stories about the cities they work and live in. Shoaib Kahut is from Pakistan and he just received his PhD in Economics at Shandong University this summer.

Shoaib Kahut holding his Doctor's degree certificate while seated beside a statue at Shandong University. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Over the course of five enriching years, I had the privilege of embarking on a transformative journey in East China's Shandong province, pursuing my PhD in Economics at Shandong University. This captivating province, nestled between majestic mountains and adorned with ancient cultural treasures, provided the perfect setting for my academic pursuit and personal growth.

Shandong's cultural tapestry

Stepping into Shandong was like entering a tapestry woven with rich history and deep-rooted traditions. The province's architectural marvels, ornate temples, and genuine warmth of its locals left an indelible impression on my heart.

A profound highlight of my experience was visiting the birthplace of Confucius in Qufu. Delving into the teachings and ideology of this revered philosopher, I found invaluable insights that shaped my understanding of China's economic development and societal values. Confucius' enduring impact on ethics, governance, and social harmony continues to resonate in my academic pursuits and human-centric approach to economic policies.

Shoaib Kahut receives his PhD in Economics at Shandong University this summer. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Academic excellence at Shandong University

Drawn by the university's reputation for academic excellence, I chose Shandong University for my doctoral studies. The diverse faculty and state-of-the-art research facilities provided an intellectually stimulating environment, fostering collaborations with scholars from diverse cultural backgrounds. Engaging in seminars and conferences further honed my analytical skills and broadened my knowledge horizon.

Amid the rigorous academic curriculum, supportive mentors, and inspiring lectures, I discovered a passion for exploring new research areas and pushing the boundaries of economic inquiry. Shandong University nurtured my intellectual growth, instilling in me a lifelong commitment to the pursuit of knowledge.

Nature's splendor: Akin to home

Coming from Islamabad, a city embraced by the Margalla Hills, Shandong's natural beauty struck a familiar chord. The province's picturesque landscapes, adorned with mountains, springs, and verdant countryside, offered a serene respite from academic pursuits.

Among the myriad breathtaking sites, the pinnacle of my experience was ascending Mount Tai. The arduous journey to the summit, accompanied by fellow travelers, left an indelible mark on my soul. Witnessing the ethereal sunrise from the peak, I felt a profound connection with nature's wonders and a renewed appreciation for life's simple joys.

Shoaib Kahut attends the 6th Jinan International Orienteering for Springs. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Exploring the diversity of Shandong

Beyond the campus, I had the privilege of venturing into other cities within Shandong, each offering a unique perspective on China's cultural heritage and modernity.

In Jining, the echoes of history were omnipresent, and my understanding of China's cultural legacy deepened. Rizhao's idyllic beaches offered a soothing escape, allowing me to rejuvenate and reflect. Dongying, with its dynamic energy centered around the oil industry, stood in stark contrast to the tranquility of the Yellow River Delta.

Welcoming warmth of the locals

As a foreign student, the warmth and friendliness of the locals were instrumental in making Shandong feel like my home away from home. Engaging in traditional tea ceremonies and celebrating festivities like the Chinese Lunar New Year, I experienced firsthand the genuine hospitality that lies at the heart of Shandong's culture.

My journey in Shandong province has been nothing short of life-changing. As I proudly hold my PhD in Economics from Shandong University, I carry with me a treasure trove of knowledge and cherished memories.

The province's cultural heritage and natural splendor have left an indelible mark on my heart. My experiences in Shandong have shaped my academic pursuits, broadened my worldview, and deepened my appreciation for the diversity of cultures and traditions.

Grateful for the opportunities bestowed upon me, I eagerly embark on new endeavors, equipped with the wisdom and insights gained during my stay in this captivating province. Shandong will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I am eager to share the lessons learned and the beauty experienced with the world.

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