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Peking University in the eyes of journalists

Peking University, Mar. 8, 2011: People say that Peking University is characteristic of being old and large. It's old because it stands out among universities with a long history of more than a hundred years; it's large because of its academic research, landscapes and moral integrity, rather than because of the grand buildings.


First known as the Imperial University of Peking, PKU was founded in 1898, an event that marked the beginning of China's modern higher education. From Shatan to Yanyuan, from the Red Mansion to Weiming Lake, PKU has been the dream place for students to pursue higher education for over a century. Today, PKU is still one of the most enchanting universities in China with a mission to build a world-class university.


The Beautiful Landscape of PKU Campus

The PKU campus enjoys the beautiful name “Yitahutu,” meaning a tower, a lake, and a library.


A winding path heading north leads to the Weiming Lake. In the early spring, the silence of winter is broken as the campus became lively again. The half-melted surface of the lake seems to reflect the ebb and flow of China as well as the enchanting spirit of PKU.


Students go in and out of the library in pairs. In the main hall of the library stands a statue of Yan Fu, former president of PKU, whose deep eyesight looks forward as if he is guarding the treasure of knowledge. The entrance doors respond swiftly to students' cards, the device of which has realized combining borrowing and access functions. This method not only raises the efficiency of the library but also provide the students with  convenience, according to the librarians. Rooms of all kinds of categories of books are located from the ground to the fifth floor, with more than 4,000 reading seats. Although the semester has just begun, the seats here are often fully occupied and the self-study rooms are quite quiet. The library opens from 6:30 to 22:30 except on Saturday. Readers have to arrive early to find a seat.


A staff member told reporters that the library, formerly known as the Imperial Library, was China’s first modern national library. Mao Zedong worked here in his youth. The library collection contains more than 10 million books, with yearly purchases amounting to around 1.5 million new books.


A Stage for Sparkling Views and Dreams

At PKU, people can talk about poetry with students or read with celebrities from the literature world to their greatest satisfaction. The encompassing PKU is like a paradise of freedom.


On the afternoon of March 2, on the other side of PKU Hall, both the Mountaineering Association and Love Heart Society are recruiting new student members. “So far we have more than 170 new members. Our goal is over 200,” members of Love Heart Society told the reporter. According to society president Wang Yufei, her life was enriched and her horizons were broadened thanks to several years’ experience with the society and volunteer work. The Love Heart Society has blossomed over the past 18 years since its founding in 1993 and now has become one of the largest associations at PKU. Zhang Ran, vice director of the department of student associations of PKU Youth League committee, informed the reporter that there are in total 272 societies like the Love Heart Society, covering eight fields: political theory, academic and scientific innovation, culture and arts, sports, volunteer work, practices and cultivation, cooperation and communication, and regional culture. Over 30,000 students are involved.


The student societies are platforms for students to self-improve, self-learn and communicate mutually, and are great supplements to in-class education. The joy of growing up and struggling, the enthusiasm of youth and dreams, the spirit of PKU abounds in the activities of student associations.


Liberal Education at PKU

PKU has long been a dream school for students. Students are offered an opportunity to attain wider-range and more solid basic knowledge so that they can avoid being narrow-sighted due to an early entry into a certain academic field. New comers take basic course for the first two years at PKU, and then move on to take field-oriented courses. After learning and getting to know the discipline and major, they can choose majors available at their departments based on their individual interests and specialties.


PKU encourages the program of “mentors for undergraduates.” The responsibilities of mentors are to adapt students to the life and learning at PKU gradually, and to advise them on choosing courses and majors. PKU also encourages students to join the labs to take part in scientific research as early as possible, so that students can further develop interest in their major and strengthen their academic thinking, on the ground that they have mastered the basic knowledge required to do so.

Many interdisciplinary courses are available for PKU students such as "Math and Philosophy" and "Law and Economics."


Xiao Guan, a student from Peking University Health Science Center, is studying a minor in economics. “I hope I can combine the knowledge of medicine and economics to broaden horizons as well as to get another degree.” In an effort to cultivate students with compound knowledge, 26 departments at PKU provide students with more than 20 second majors or minors. These options are varied and very popular.


Three New Majors

PKU Office for Undergraduate Admissions locates in the first-floor of a grey building. One staff member told the reporters the planned enrollment in the year 2011 would be 2,650. This year, there are three new majors added: Chemical Biology, by the College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering; Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering, both by the College of Engineering.


"Candidates who registered for Peking University in some non-common languages – French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Korean, etc. – and reached the Peking University line in the earlier admission process in Beijing, they can be admitted to Peking University. One may also apply to give up the qualification of studying those languages at Peking University and participate in the normal admission process.


Peking University provides students with an opportunity to change their major. The staff member also told reporters that students who want to change their majors may apply for transfer in the second semester of their freshman year. Students at the Health Science Center can also transfer to other majors at PKU as long as they pass relevant tests.


Auditing an Elective Course

The atmosphere in the South Wing Hall of PKU Library was intense. Renowned Chinese tenor Dai Yuqiang was giving his second lecture at Peking University for an opera course – one of the hundreds of elective courses.


On the evening of March 2, the reporters audited Tenor Dai’s class. At 6:30 pm, it was still 10 minutes before the start of class. The classroom, which can accommodate more than 200 students, was filled with teachers and students attending the lecture, even the entrance were full of people.


“Anyone who has seen the opera, please raise your hands.” Upon hearing his words, dozens of students raised their hands.


“Does The Song of Youth count? I have seen it on campus” one student asked. Dai Yuqiang’s affirmative answer led to a burst of laughter. “Do you know who the third high among the tenors is? Who is a Young tenor? Could Dai Yuqiang be considered?" Dai Yuqiang’s words drew rounds of applause. During the whole class, Dai Yuqiang frequently used slides, explaining some well-known works of foreign masters.


Xiao Zhao, a Law School student, said he has few opportunities to attend classes like this. The elective course “Opera Performing Arts” is launched by the PKU Academy of Opera. The course wins great attention from students. “I love it very much,” said Zhao.


New Flavors

Towards the dinner time, the dining halls at Yanyuan are lit up. Students from different classroom buildings go to have supper. The journalists followed the students into the “Jiayuan” dining hall and enjoyed a “PKU favor” meal. There are foods from all over the country to satisfy the students’ taste, such as snacks from Fujian Shaxian county and northern jiaozi. According to the introduction of a freshman, it costs about 5-6 yuan per meal and less than 20 yuan per day for dining at Peking University, which is much cheaper than outside the campus. “Jiayuan” dining hall and “Campus” restaurant extend the length of dining time, which ensures that those students who have classes late in night can enjoy delicious meals.


PKU in the Eyes of PKUers

Zhang Xiaoyun, a student of the Class of 2011 of PKU School of Life Sciences, has received an offer at P&G.


“Peking University provides me with a fairly good environment for studying and living. During the four years here, I have attended classes taught by masters in different fields and have done research in laboratory. Owing to these precious experiences, I have a deeper understanding of my major. Furthermore, I have learned to make good choices in a society full of opportunities and challenges.”


Cheng Yu, an undergraduate student of the Law School, is working at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


“Peking University, as one of the best universities in China, enables its students to enjoy great advantages in the employment market. The four years’ study at Peking University cultivated me with a good habit of learning and thinking.


“I passed the TOEFL, the Bar Exam and the Public Servants’ Test in my junior and senior year. I also have internship experience at a well-known law firm. Finally, I chose to work at the ministry. I hope to realize my value here.”



Translated by: Chen Long and Chen Wei

Edited by: Jacques

Source: PKU News (Chinese)