This South African model is learning Chinese in Shanghai — here’s why

learning mandarin in China
Shamiel Hagee is having the time of his life learning Chinese at Fudan University, Shanghai. Source: Shamiel Hagee

Shamiel Hagee, a model hailing from South Africa is now in Shanghai studying Chinese at Fudan University (FDU). For 2020, his goal is to overcome the intimidating challenge of learning this language and hopes to complete his business degree in China’s biggest city, known as a hot pot for making big bucks in Asia. “The city I live in has a booming economy,” he says. He tells us more about why he chose to study in the hustle and bustle of the Middle Kingdom:

Why study abroad?

I am studying abroad as getting out of my comfort zone is on my bucket list, I also want to apply myself to master a new language. I think Mandarin is a very progressive language and handy to have. Furthermore, Mandarin is something I can use for the future, for whichever career path I choose. I love being able to experience a different and unique culture  — it is such a contrast from South Africa — travelling around Asia and exploring new territory whilst building connections and friendships.

learning mandarin in China

Shamiel Hagee is in China to get out of his comfort zone and to experience a wholly new culture. Source: Shamiel Hagee

What do you like most about studying in China?

China has a rich history of culture, tradition and amazing food. Depending on what region you go to, you are sure to experience an array of completely different dishes. Getting to experience food and lifestyle in a world of opportunity is like hitting several birds with one stone.

Shanghai, with a large population of over 27,058,000 people, brings people from all over the globe together, and boasts a foreign population of over 152,050 people. Getting to meet people from across the world in one city is something rather special. Being a very multicultural and diverse city, there’s nothing quite like it in the rest of the world.

Tell us about your studies.

At this moment in time, I’m studying Chinese. It’s definitely not the easiest language to learn, but it is extremely fascinating. You can see how it holds on to tradition, and the characters represent a period from 1,000 years ago. The language is very respectful when it comes to communicating with people. The grammar is completely different from the English language. It’s a mindset, not just a language — there are many layers to it, much like an onion.

Are you having a memorable time at Fudan University?

The campus at Fudan University is exceedingly beautiful. All moments are a memorable one for me. FDU is a very prestigious school, ranked top 34 in the world, number seven in Asia, and number one in Shanghai. You can imagine the rich history and design this school has to offer.

What are your top recommendations or advice to others planning to study in China?

My advice would be to learn some basic Chinese before coming to China, just like you would in any other country that has a foreign language to yours — it’s very helpful. Moreover, you need to remember that you are coming to another country with their own set of rules and identity. Learning to adapt to your surroundings is key.

Keeping in mind that you can’t expect people to adapt to your individual situation, do some research before coming, such as what you should bring from home because you most likely won’t find it here even though most things are made in China (LOL). Adhere to the laws and you’ll be fine. You’d be surprised to know how spoiled you are for being in such a safe country.

Shamiel Hagee describes the Fudan University campus as “exceedingly beautiful”. Source: Shamiel Hagee

What are your plans for the future?

My plan is to master the Chinese language and use it to the best of my advantage, perhaps to operate my own business. Being the boss of my own company, or working for companies that require my skills is my goal. Either way, it’s guaranteed that I’ll be utilising all the skills obtained in this amazing country.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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