Through Our Door | Zuhal Fidan (Turkey): 2019 Yenching Scholar

Zuhal Fidan is an international student of Yenching Academy from Turkey. She likes the elegant and beautiful scenery in Jingyuan as well as the common spaces where she can communicate with others. For her, Jingyuan has a traditional beauty that is completely different from that of modern architecture. She feels that it is a dream come true to have the opportunity to learn about Chinese culture here. Zuhal loves the spring of Jingyuan the most, when the everything comes back to life and the flowers bloom. The pandemic prevailed last spring, during which she often went to Jingyuan to study when she felt lonely, and felt strength and comfort in Jingyuan’s vibrancy and tranquility. Jingyuan is full of her best memories. Last year, the American scholar of the 5th cohort held a Thanksgiving celebration in the common room on the second floor. In this party, students from all over the world chatted and shared ideas over food and drinks. This made her feel like at home and that the Yenching Academy is a loving family. For Zuhal, these feelings and stories, intertwined with the scenery, architecture, and her interactions in and with Jingyuan courtyard 4, have turned into memories that will never fade away.

Q: How much do you know about Jingyuan? How have you come to your present understanding of Jingyuan?

A: Not much. From regular conversations with my classmates, I have heard that it is a meaningful building with a long history.

Q: What is your first impression of Jingyuan? Can you describe it in three words?

A: I would say elegance, communication, and beauty. I say “communication” because many students use this space to talk and interact with each other.

Q: Which spot in Jingyuan left the most significant impression on you?

A: The outermost classroom on the second floor in Jingyuan courtyard 4. It has windows facing the lawn outside, through which you can see the lawn and the yard at the same time. When the sun sets, the view is amazing. In the summer, the sun usually goes down at about 6 p.m., and you can see overlapping shades of gold, yellow and orange in the last rays of the setting sun. Its beauty seems to come straight from Heaven, almost unreal.

Q: Which is your favorite season in Jingyuan?

A: Spring, as spring is the season of blooming flowers. The flowers in Jingyuan are particularly beautiful and colorful in the spring, with new leaves sprouting. Ivy crawling along the walls, the yard is full of vigor and vitality.

Q: What is the most memorable thing that has happened in Jingyuan?

A: Thanksgiving last year, our American classmates held a celebration event in the common space of the second floor. They prepared a lot of delicious food, and we all enjoyed it together while sharing stories about what we were thankful for. That moment gave me a feeling that “the Yenching Academy is truly one big family,” and that Jingyuan is as warm as our home.

Q: Other than classes and school activities, do you go to Jingyuan for other reasons?

A: During the pandemic, I went to Jingyuan frequently to study by myself. Back then I often felt sad and bored staying at my dorm room all alone so I would go to Jingyuan to study. Being surrounded by the beautiful flowers and plants of springtime allowed me to escape from the worries of the pandemic for a moment.

Q: What do you think is the biggest difference between the architecture of Jingyuan and your undergraduate institution?

A: The school buildings in Turkey and of other places I have visited are usually very modern in style, while Jingyuan shows the beauty of traditional Chinese architecture. I feel incredibly lucky and thankful to have had the opportunity to learn about Chinese culture in such a wonderful place. It feels like a dream come true, and I am very grateful.

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