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Finding inspiration under the embrace of academia

By Zhao Yimeng | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-26 07:29

Zhao Yimeng, China Daily reporter. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

When I was a junior middle school student, the last place I wanted to do my homework at weekends was at the family home in Beijing. Sometimes I finished the assignments in a noisy McDonald's across the street from our school, but more often than not I walked directly into Beijing Normal University next to the fast food restaurant and found a quiet classroom in one of the teaching buildings.

In those days, prior to 2010, students were not allowed to enter primary or secondary schools during nonteaching hours. Universities were like a free study room where we continued our schoolwork or discussed "life's issues" like adults. Unlike libraries, there were more diverse activities on campus such as reading, walking around the beautiful college or having lunch at a restaurant.

What attracted me most to the university was its openness and inclusiveness. It provided opportunities to people of different ages and social status to learn and experience campus life, giving younger students a taste of higher education institutions and their social aspects.

During my final days studying for the gaokao, or college entrance examinations, Peking University's Lee Shau Kee Building was my secret garden and inspiration. I often sat in a classroom when no teaching was underway and reviewed exam material.

But I was not the only "outsider" inside the university classrooms. Other young students and some older ones were preparing for further education exams or studying for qualification certificates.

Studying in these buildings was more effective for me as I was encouraged by other people struggling to reach similar goals. When I read out loud on the stairs outside the classroom to reaffirm what I'd learned, I'd see Peking University students holding books and walking to their classes.

The thought of becoming one of them drove me to work harder when I was tired of the lengthy preparation work for my exam.

Although Peking University was not my first option for a higher learning institution, the experience of studying on the campus of a prestigious college inspired me and many other young students to try and improve ourselves.

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