Alessandra Alluto is a young language university student, fond of China, travels, photography and writing. Those passions are summarized in her blog, Hailin Travelog, where she tells about her experiences around the world but, especially, around China. Today she tells to Viaggio da sola perché about her staying in China and her love for its culture
How has your interest for China come to be?
Four years ago, when I finished the high school, I had to make my decision. I have been always fascinated by the Eastern world and its culture, so distant from mine, so, even having a look at the economy, I decided to enrol with the University and study the Chinese language. Although it’s a difficult language, the more I went ahead the more I developed a passion for it, the more I developed a passion for it the more I desired to know closely that culture, the people, those wonderful places, often underestimated. So two years ago, I decided to leave for Beijing for a three-month experience where I attended courses and I got more and more close to this world.
And now you are in China again, for your second time.
Yes, I’ve left alone to Chongqing with a 6-month student’s grant obtained by the Istituto Confucio in Turin. I had applied for Beijing because by the time I knew the place and the people there, but my path was suddenly redirected to Chongqing, and I told myself “Why not?”..
I thought it must have been some reason if destiny was pushing me to live a new adventure in a new place where i didn’t know anybody.
And actually the reason was there: I completely fell in love with it, so much that I thought I’d like to come back here to work next year.
How was approaching this culture and living in China?
At the beginning I had a big culture shock for sure, but now that I’m in Chongqing, at the end of my second experience in China, I ask to myself if I’ll have a culture shock when I’ll be back to Italy. There are a lot of things that an Italian coming to China has to deal with since the first minute: smells, flavours, completely different mentalities even in the logic of reasoning.
Could you give us some examples?
Contrary to Italy, they don’t have the culture of restoration but of reconstruction. It looks like a simple thing, but thinking about the fact that every building which reflects Chinese culture and its antiquity is completely rebuilt, makes an impression to us Italians who have a whole artistic heritage based on restoration.
Another example that you can see with your own eyes as soon as you land in China is their very severe education so that if they know that 2+3=5, the other way around 3+2 make them panicking. They follow a scheme, so that dealing with this culture at the beginning can be difficult.
Another very special thing is the smell. China is a mix of thousands of smells, but in general it has its own smell. The first time I came to China and I smelled that odour I was almost bothered. Six months ago when I landed in Chongqing airport and I smelled it my first thought was “I’m at home”.
Apart from the smell, what has really touched your hearth in China?
The thing that perhaps shocked me more and still surprises me every day are certainly people. Their politeness, their agreeableness, their way of repeating you things a thousand times despite the evident language problem, their laughs, their eyes…They left me truly speechless.
I left with that state of excitement which usually accompanies every departure and that you know very well..The one which takes your breath off and makes you understand how good is to feel free, feeling part of this world for real. I took that airplane alone without knowing what I would find and at the same time full of expectations. Nevertheless, once I arrived here, I knew a lot of fantastic people with whom I created a real family and that transformed this solo travel changing any expectation and converting it in an even better experience.
I travel alone because is the best way to feel free, to feel myself and when you are alone you find the best people.
As we usually speak about feeling more or less safe while travelling (or living), which was your experience in China?
Although along my path I met a lot of people and I’ve almost never been alone, I think that living alone in China is not difficult, if you know the language and the culture. Better yet. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so safe in a place all over my life (being reasonably careful). It looks like a simple thing, but in many occasions I had to go to buy something at eleven in the night or to come back home alone from a dinner with friends and feel as it was afternoon. This place makes you feel safe and it’s something that you don’t expect in a as “chaotic” place as China.
All the images used in the article and on the front page are property of Alessandra Alluto.