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Student embraces her new Shanxi 'family'

Source: chinadaily.com.cn Time: 30 07,2021

Many overseas students based in Shanxi province have gained a better understanding of the province and China. This section, named Shanxi in the Eyes of Foreign Students, will tell their stories in the province and share what Shanxi looks like from their perspectives, giving accounts of the local environment, customs and culture, as well as their personal experiences.

When I first came to Shanxi as a foreign student in Taiyuan-based Shanxi University, everything was strange. However, with the help of local people, I quickly integrated with society.

You should not be surprised, either on campus or on streets, to meet with friendly people: they greet you with smiles, and they are keen to offer a helping hand and share with you their life and stories.

My story of an acquaintance with a local couple started during my first week in Taiyuan.

When I heard that noodles in Shanxi are delicious, I went to a restaurant, where I saw an elderly couple who were served big bowls of noodles.

I fixed my eyes on the bowls and said to myself those were too big for seniors. They noticed my surprise and asked me to sit down by them.

"I know it's impolite to look at you that way," I said in broken Chinese.

"We are foodies indeed," the husband said. "Noodles are among the best food in Shanxi and you should have a try."

Then we exchanged phone numbers and have kept in touch over the years since. First we became friends and later members of a "family". I call them grandpa and grandma.

I spent my first Spring Festival at their home. I still remember how excited I was when I received their phone call.

I stayed with them for several days during that period, learning to put on Spring Festival couplets from grandpa and make jiaozi dumplings from grandma. There was also plenty of fun setting off fireworks and talking with other family members and friends.

Later, grandpa and grandma invited me to join them on a tour of Wutai Mountain, a famous Buddhist holy land in Shanxi.

During the trip, they told me a lot of stories about the history of the mountain and the religion.

I was told that Wutai is one of the top four Buddhist sites in China and a major venue for learning teachings from Bodhisattva Manjusri.

"Many temples here are suitable places to make a wish," grandpa said when we arrived at a temple.

Then he knelt down and prayed. When I heard his prayer asking Buddha's blessing for my health and well-being, I burst into tears. I realized that they were treating me as their grandchild.

Back in Egypt, my own grandparents had passed away before I was born. It was in Shanxi that I felt the love from grandparents for the first time. That love has been with me for five years during my stay in the province and I believe it will be with me throughout my lifetime.

Shanxi is the place that gives me a home from home and a sense of belonging.