TIANJIN, June 17 (Xinhua) -- For 21-year-old Aibekova Asel from Kyrgyzstan, studying in northern China's Tianjin Municipality is an important opportunity to pursue her Chinese dream.
"When I was young, when watching Chinese cartoons and tourism programs on TV, I was quite interested in the subtitles," Aibekova said. "Even though I couldn't understand them, the characters became inked in my mind."
Aibekova's childhood interest had gradually developed into one of her life pursuits as she chose to major in Chinese when admitted to Kyrgyz National University two years ago, also attending courses arranged by the Confucius Institute.
"It was my own decision. My mother and brother are doctors, so my family wanted me to be a doctor as well," Aibekova said.
"But I can't just give up my Chinese dream," she added.
Besides learning Chinese at school, Aibekova also spent 15 minutes every day practicing martial arts she learned at the Confucius Institute, "which was a good way of exercising."
Last September, after passing the Chinese language proficiency test, the Kyrgyz girl was excited that she could finally come to China and learn its language at Tianjin University.
"China and Kyrgyzstan are good neighbors. I have always been looking forward to visiting this place," she said.
Art classes, such as paper-cutting, Chinese painting, Beijing opera masks designing, are among Aibekova's favorites. "It's so great that I can experience Chinese culture by doing something myself."
For someone from a landlocked country, Tianjin is a perfect place for seafood lovers. "Tianjin is a 'paradise' for seafood lovers. I've eaten things that I don't even know the names of."
In less than a year, Aibekova has visited Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou where she appreciated the charm of the different local cultures. "Shanghai is the best. The moment I went there, I decided to apply for my postgraduate degree in this magic city."
"As China and Kyrgyzstan continue to deepen their bilateral relationship, my family now supports me learning Chinese," she said.
Aibekova hopes the friendship between China and Kyrgyzstan will last forever. "I'm willing to serve as a bridge between the two countries in the future."