Kabir's new life in Kunming: making friends and acquiring knowledge

[InKunming--Interviews Polls] " Kunming people are very friendly, and they send regards to strangers."

"I love Kunming. The mobile payment is very convenient here."

"With the establishment of China (Yunnan) Pilot Free Trade Zone, Yunnan will be able to let 'Made in China' go abroad."

These evaluations all come from Kabir Md Alamgir from Bangladesh. He is pursuing his doctorate degree in ecology and environmental protection in Yunnan University. He is enjoying a wonderful life in Kunming, getting along well with locals, using mobile payment everywhere and meeting more surprises.

Kunming people are very helpful

For many people, their future life and career have probably been fixed when they turn to 30 years old, while for Kabir Md Alamgir from Bangladesh, it means a new journey of learning abroad. In August 2017, when he was about 31 years old, he knew that there was a place where he could receive a scholarship from the Chinese government to study in Kunming. He applied for it and stood out from the eight applicants.


Kabir Md Alamgir.

"It's only a few weeks from the successful application to the flight to Kunming." Kabir recalled the memories. He typed "Kunming" in the search box on the internet and saw many good descriptions about Kunming. For example, Kunming is called Spring City due to its nice weather. Kunming is reputed as “World Spring City Flower Capital”. Although for Kabir, who could not say a word in Chinese, it was an adventure to come to Kunming, he was expecting something different. 

“When I got off the plane in Kunming, I was very confused that someone said ‘你好’ to me. I didn't know what it meant at all." Kabir laughed out and said, " Kunming people are very friendly, and they send regards to strangers."

After two years of studying Chinese in Kunming, he can do a brief self-introduction in Chinese now. He agreed that learning Chinese is by no means an easy task for foreigners. “ it is difficult to master the four tones in Chinese, let alone the writings.”


Kabir took a picture with his Chinese language teachers and classmates.

When Kabir first arrived in Kunming, he couldn’t understand Chinese so that he couldn’t communicate with the locals. At the same time, he couldn’t get used to Yunnan cuisine and the surrounding environment. 

One day he walked around and got lost. “I couldn’t find my way back school, nor can I use the map application.” Fortunately, a pass-by asked him what happened and then helped him back to school. 

At the beginning, language barrier caused many troubles to Kabir. At the same time, he encountered plenty of friendly people.

Another day, on his way back to Yunnan University from Nanping Street, he wanted to take the No. 84 bus, which cost 2 yuan per person, but he only had 1 yuan and 100 yuan in his hand. He tried to get change, but the people in the shop could not understand his language at all. Fortunately, a lady beside him said "What happened? How can I help you?” After explaining the reason, the lady immediately gave him an extra 1 rmb.

"I want to transfer money to her by Wechat, but she said no." Kabir was grateful for her help and then they became friends.

"When one person comes to a new place, language barrier is the biggest problem, fortunately I have helpful friends." Kabir explained that in Kunming many friends helped him a lot, of which he wanted to say “thank you” to his supervisor.


Kabir Md Alamgir and his supervisor (left).

His supervisor not only assists him in his study, but also helps him in life. “My supervisor was the first person to ask me about my future plans. When she learned that I had to come to Kunming alone, and my wife and children were living in Bangladesh.” His supervisor applied to the school to increase the number of doctoral students in the laboratory.

Thanks to the great help of his supervisor and his wife's hard work, his wife Begum Ayesha applied for a scholarship from the Chinese government last year and came to Kunming with his lovely son to study ecology and environmental protection.

Kunming’s air quality is wonderful and people can use mobile payment everywhere

Nice weather and hospitable people in Kunming make Kabir and his families enjoy a great life here. They visited Cuihu park and Dianchi Lake. Sometimes they went to the vegetable market to buy some fresh ingredients to cook at home. In Kabir words, “vegetables and fruits in Kunming are very fresh and cheap.” 


Kabir Md Alamgir with his wife and son

 ;"In Kunming, we can use mobile payment everywhere even in the vegetable market. It seems like there is no money in wallet.” Kabir explained that people often use cash in Bangladesh, and it is not that convenient.

When he is busy with lab work, he usually choose to have meal at school canteen. He can order dishes in Chinese, such as fried corn, fried potatoes cake and beef. “I love Yunnan cuisine right now.” He said frankly that he was not used to the taste of Yunnan cuisine so that he spent more than 10 days eating fruits only. When time went by, he gradually got used to it.

"The weather in Kunming is as unpredictable as a woman's heart. Sometimes it rains and then the sun comes out, but I am used to it and I love Kunming," Kabir added that Kunming’s air quality is wonderful.


Kabir Md Alamgir took a picture in Luoping.

In addition to Kunming, in 2017, Kabir went to Luoping to participate in the Luoping Huahai International Marathon. Seeing those golden cole flowers blooming in the wind, Kabir could not help stopping running. “The flowers were so beautiful that I almost walked the full marathon.”


Kabir Md Alamgir took a picture in the marathon race.

When it comes to some other places to go, Kabir plans to visit Dali with families some day. “Many friends told me it is a nice place to go.”

Yunnan is on its way of prospering, attracting more overseas students

With the help of his supervisor, Kabir and his wife steadily moved forward on their way to acquire knowledge. Sometimes he was invited to attend academic seminars. In August 2018, he was invited to take part in the International Society of Limnology XXXIV Congress in Nanjing. He discussed the issues of water environment management and ecological restoration with experts and scholars from all over the world.


Kabir Md Alamgir (left third) attended International Society of Limnology XXXIV Congress.

He has been in Nanjing for a week and saw plenty of tall buildings and modern facilities. "Although there are a lot skyscrapers and modern facilities in Nanjing. However, there are no blue sky, beautiful flowers and green trees. Only Kunming has them."Kabir Md Alamgir expressed his affection to Kunming.

In his view, Yunnan prides itself on its natural resources, picturesque landscapes and rich biodiversity, and has a bright future in economic development. “"I believe that many foreigners like me will love Yunnan when they come here. The food is delicious, the scenery is beautiful, and there are many opportunities."

Recently, the State Council decided to establish free trade pilot zones in the six provinces of Shandong, Jiangsu, Guangxi, Hebei, Yunnan and Heilongjiang. Kabir and many international exchange students attended a conference meeting to discuss "Yunnan's opportunity to be included in a free trade pilot area".


Kabir Md Alamgir was giving a presentation.

He said, "As we all know, China is stepping forward in global expansion and infrastructure investment with the One Belt One Road Initiative. Under this background, through the establishment of China (Yunnan) free trade pilot area, Yunnan will be able to make ‘made in China’ products export to Bangladesh or other countries.”

“China's opening up to the outside world is an all-round opening up. Increasing foreign students come to study here.” After studying China profile, he knows that there was a period of time in Chinese history when China closed doors to outside resulting in economic lag. “It's great that China now opens its doors and gives some money to foreign students studying in China."

In 2022, Kabir will finish his doctorate and return to Bangladesh to work. He said he would come back often, because there is his great supervisor, helpful friends and those happy time.

"There are direct flights between Kunming and Dhaka, and it only takes two hours." He said.  

Click here to view Chinese report

(Editors: Rachel, Christine) 

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