Through Our Door | Alicia Rodríguez Alabarce (Spain): 2018 Yenching Scholar

Coming from a small town in Spain, Beijing initially struck Alicia as a crush of people. Overtime, she learned to master the daily rhythms of city life – from rush hour on the Beijing subway to late night taxi rides through winding streets. As one of the few international students to stay on campus after the outbreak of COVID-19, Alicia spent her final few months enjoying the solitude of Beida. Jingyuan was an important touchpoint within the Peking University campus. Describing it as “symbolic of the Yenching Academy community and YCA family” Alicia recounts a Jingyuan filled with life.

Q: What inspired you to apply to the Yenching Academy of Peking University?

A: I came to Beijing because I wanted to discover the world. At university, I studied Chinese and I found the language to be so different from everything I had learned before. I wanted a chance to explore the culture and the people behind that language. My time at the Yenching Academy of PKU fed my interest. I still have a lot to learn.

Q: What role did Jingyuan play in your life on campus?

A: Jingyuan is an amazing building, meant to be enjoyed. Besides class, we went to Jingyuan to study. From every side there is a different view – from the park to the yard. Plus, you never go alone. After grabbing a friend, you can go to Jingyuan for tea or coffee. After six or seven hours of a “study afternoon” you might find that you haven’t studied at all. The special moments we passed there made it feel so unique.

Jingyuan is a 5 minutes-walk from where we lived at Shaoyuan, yet it feels different. Something about the trees and the families that pass through Jingyuan makes it magical.

There is a lot of life in the site. It is very symbolic for the YCA project and YCA family. I think of Jingyuan with a lot of tenderness because, to me, it represents our experience. I feel some pride of ownership that I participated to make the site its own.

Q: How did your experiences on campus, and at Jingyuan in particular, situate your larger experience living in Beijing?

A: If I was to return to Beijing, the first thing I would seek out is the campus. After most students left due to COVID-19, I chose to stay at Beida to finish my degree. The last few months on campus really gave me a chance to discover the whole campus. And what a beautiful space! From the lake in the spring to the seasons passing by. . . it gave me a lot of peace.

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