A student of St. Petersburg State University of Film and Television about studying in China: "I had the urge to engage not only in filming but also in animation"

29 March 2019

A student of the Faculty of Management and Media Communication of St. Petersburg State University of Film and Television, Apollinaria Lebedenko, was a participant of an international academic exchange program and spent a semester at the Jilin Animation Institute (Changchun, China). Read her article about the Chinese language exams, hospitality, great teachers, responsiveness and much more.


I learned about the opportunity to participate in the academic exchange program quite by accident and immediately applied for it because I had studied Chinese for a long time and worked with Chinese tourists. That is, before the trip to China I already spoke Chinese but I had some difficulties with reading and writing. But it was not an obstacle for my studies, since we learned everything there.

Together with another student from St. Petersburg State University of Film and Television, we arrived in Changchun at the Jilin Animation Institute. I worried about leaving my country for a half of year and living in the country where there is different mentality, different culture, and indeed everything is different. But when we got off the plane, the first thing that pleased me was the way we were met by our curator who held a nameplate, very politely welcomed us and told us about the Institute, about some of its rules, about the city in which we were going to live. She became a wonderful teacher, friend and the person on whom I could count.

We were "led by the hand" everywhere during the first month, even it sounds ridiculously. They helped us to make a bank card, a SIM card, showed us the nearest banks, shops and sights and escorted us to the dormitory after classes. We studied Mandarin (Chinese) in English organized only for the two of us. We also attended practical classes and lectures with other Chinese students in subjects that more or less fit our training course in Russia (and we had the opportunity to choose courses).

Lectures and practical classes were held in Chinese. It seems incredible but after a while we got used to these conditions, went to the library, translated textbooks and homework. We also passed examinations in all subjects in Chinese. We could always get help. When we wrote to our group mates or friends in the common chat that we had problems, they, regardless of whether they were busy or not, always helped us. In this regard, it was even embarrassing for us because in Russia we take it in the way "when you are free, then you will help" but in China other people are at the first place.

We also had the opportunity to attend various master classes with teachers from different countries. Most of these creative meetings were on animation, but even for me, a future producer of film and television, it was extremely interesting.

I was often asked: "From you, blondes, the Chinese people did not take eyes off probably?" Yes, at first, students could not control themselves, sometimes they even did very strange things, for example, they approached, tried to say something and ran away with huge eyes, pointed with their fingers at us and took pictures. A while later, the students got used to us and explained their behaviour by the fact that they had never seen blondes in their lives.

Teachers were polite, responsible and, most importantly, loving their work. We could write to them at night and we would receive an answer. We were obliged to send the video with our reading in Chinese on their day off, and they immediately replied with an analysis of our mistakes. They worried about us as about their own children. The deputy director, curator and our professors often invited us somewhere to celebrate an upcoming holiday together. I am grateful to this Institute for having found such teachers.

There was a huge choice of different sections at the Jilin Animation Institute. Fairs and festivals were constantly held, and a festive concert was organized at an incredible scale on the 18th anniversary of the Institute.

The territory of the Institute is huge. It consists of six buildings, and each building is for a separate faculty. For example, the building "F" is for Film Faculty. Building "A" is for Animation Faculty and so on. There is a large park area on the territory of the Institute and it is a three-minute walk from educational buildings to a university canteen with a huge choice of food.

If they asked me: "Would you come back to study there?", I would answer: "Without any doubts". Thanks to St. Petersburg State University of Film and Television for the great and incredible opportunity to study in another country for a semester. Thanks to the exchange studies I gained a great experience, desire to continue to learn Chinese and to be engaged not only in the film making but also in the creation of animation and, of course, new acquaintances and friends!

Apollinaria Lebedenko,

Faculty of Management and Media Communication, Film and TV Producing, 3rd year, group 6ПР1