Vietnamese Do Dieu Linh enjoys a good life on campus in Xi'an. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Do Dieu Linh from Hanoi in Vietnam and Hue Lee from Bokeo province in Laos, are postgraduates at Xi'an Jiaotong University, who have both been relishing their new lives in China.
Like increasing numbers of overseas students coming to study in China, Linh and Lee had to adapt to a few new things when they first arrived to study in 2016. Both say that experiencing Chinese culture was the main attraction for them to come to China.
As an undergraduate student back in Vietnam, Linh taught Chinese students Vietnamese. "My Chinese friends told me a lot about Chinese culture which really made me interested in coming to study in China," she says.
As for Lee, he has long been a fan of Chinese kung fu. "I watched the movies of Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Actually, Chinese kung fu is the reason why I chose to study here," Lee says.
While studying in China, they have had the chance to travel and see some of the country's wonders, such as the Terracotta Warriors and Huashan Mountain.
"China is such a vast country. There are so many cities I have never even set foot in. Both Beijing and Xi'an are cities with a long history. I have plans to visit Beijing," says Lee.
However, it's not all been holidays and plain sailing. At first, they found it difficult to get used to Xi'an's climate, which is considerably colder than their home countries. Food was another issue.
As with anyone who moves to a new country, the first few weeks can be the toughest, prompting many to consider returning home. Those who stick it out, however, are often rewarded.
Linh was lucky, finding comfort and help from her teachers and classmates at Xi'an Jiaotong University.
"The Chinese teachers have shown a lot of concern for us foreign students. They often contacted me and asked me if I had any difficulties," says Linh.
"We have become good friends. They even invited me and my classmates to their homes. My Chinese was poor, but my classmates were tolerant and helped me out a lot."
Vietnamese Laotian Hue Lee enjoys a good life on campus in Xi'an. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Things are becoming easier and easier for Lee, especially the change of food. "People in Laos prefer soups, and when young people get together, they would share beers," Lee says. "But it's OK; now roujiamo (meat burger) is my favorite."
Asked about their impression of China after a year of study, both answered immediately. "The Chinese are warm and friendly," Linh says. "Since my first day in China, their friendliness and concern for foreigners impressed me a great deal."
When it comes to the future, they have different ideas. Lee plans to return to his homeland to find work as a computer engineer, but Linh plans to stay on in China.
"The Vietnamese and Chinese don't really know each other very well, so I want to become a messenger. My dream is to build a bridge between China and Vietnam. I believe we will know each other much better in the future."
From Nov 12 to 14, President Xi Jinping made a state visit to Vietnam and Laos, after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Vietnam's Da Nang on Nov 10 and 11. The news made Linh and Lee happy.
"Laos and China are old friends," says Lee. "Our friendship has a firm foundation. There are many Chinese working in Laos, and this has brought about great development in my country's economy."
Last year, China started construction of a high-speed railway from Yunnan province to Vientiane, the Laos capital.
Linh says that the relationship between Vietnam and China is important. She also hopes that more Vietnamese will learn more about the country from her "Chinese story".
Cui Kejia and Zhao Yang contributed to the story.