Finding a new life of peace and tranquillity

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 September, 2007, 12:00am

Young people share their experience of the mainland

Name Samuel Sin Hin-cheung

Age 26

Studying Master's in Chinese Language and Literature

Location Peking University

At the former site of the Qing dynasty royal gardens, master's student Samuel Sin Hing-cheung satisfies a craving for knowledge of ancient China.

'I'm fascinated by all things Chinese and I knew that if I wanted to have a deeper understanding, this was the place I needed to be,' said Sin, who is in the third and final year of his course.

In 2003, while finishing his language and literature undergraduate studies at Hong Kong Shue Yan University, he was advised by his professor to take the mainland university entry exams, held in Hong Kong every April. 'I failed by one mark the first time I took them in 2003,' he said. 'But I was determined, so I got a part-time job, took private tuition to improve my English, studied hard, repeated them a year later and passed.'

Sin said that the university campus had a charm which encouraged creativity. 'It's relaxed, peaceful and spacious. You feel freedom to think. I began writing poetry and practising the writings styles of the Tang and Sung dynasties. It's a way of expressing my ideas and imagination. I realise now that Chinese language and literature is an art. Literature uses symbols just as paintings use colours and music uses notes. Writing has become a source of happiness for me.

'I feel I have achieved a lot in three years. On reflection, I realise that Hong Kong can be quite restrictive with its fast rhythm, and tight and compact environment.'

But internet restrictions on the mainland frustrate Sin, a keen blogger. 'Limitations exist in other ways, and it was annoying that the website I use to post my writing was blocked,' he said. He often travels to the city to talk to locals and improve his Putonghua.

'You need to be here over a year before you can listen to others well and feel you understand most things,' he said. 'The trick is to have conversations with the locals. I often go to the jade and antique markets and talk with them about how they work, what they did before, Beijing life, and they ask me all about Hong Kong. You become kind of an ambassador for Hong Kong, explaining many things.'