Recently, we have interviewed Sylvie Ramakers, 2020 Cohort Scholar from Netherlands, to share her YCA stories with us.
Ever since the Netherlands Asia Honours Summer School with a stay at Sichuan University in 2018, I have been keen on returning to China as a student or as part of my career. I found out about Yenching Academy of Peking University after I returned from Chengdu by stumbling across a poster of a YCA info session at my university by pure luck. I attended the session and sent my application in the last year of my bachelor’s.
While I have enjoyed courses like ‘Chinese Perspectives on Migration’ and ‘China in Transition’, the Chinese language classes have been very interactive and provide a fun change from the more serious and academic courses.
More so, I have been most impressed by how easy it is to connect with other students. Despite studying online, I have had the opportunity to meet amazing people from all kinds of backgrounds due to everyone’s involvement and because of the ban (班) system.
I also love the different online social activities like the alumni PhD event and the Mid-Autumn Festival, where Mattia Bertolini (another YCA Scholar) and I bought and shared mooncakes as a fun way of showing some Chinese culture in Amsterdam. The YCA Olympics has been my favourite event because it provided a glimpse into my colleagues’ everyday lives. If the online community is already this great, I cannot wait for what it is like when we are all on campus!
More so, I decided to become a monitor (班长) because I felt it would be an excellent way to get to know the other students better and foster a community outside of the classroom. My colleagues and I have since set up a buddy system, organized an event where scholars could introduce their hometown, and, together with the other banzhangs, held a super fun intra-ban trivia night.
Due to the limitation by the COVID-19, I am currently living in Taipei with five other Yenching Scholars until we can go to Beijing to continue our studies on the Peking University campus. We have made several hikes, visited Kaohsiung and Tainan in south Taiwan, enjoyed incredible Taiwanese food and met many friendly people.
After graduation from YCA, I would like to work in China’s environmental and tech innovation sector. I believe the Netherlands can learn a lot from China’s speed at rolling out renewable energy and other green projects, especially in the electric vehicle industry.