Get to know our Students at the Contemporary China Studies Program!

Klaudija Lipnjak from Croatia is using the extra time on campus brought on by COVID-19 to finalize her graduation thesis research.

Thank you for agreeing to this interview! Why don’t you just start off with your name, your background, and a little bit about yourself?

Hello! My name in Klaudija Lipnjak, and I’m currently a second-year CCSP student here in Beijing. I’m 23 years old and originally from Croatia. I finished my Bachelor’s in Sinology in Slovenia in 2015, that’s when I got the opportunity to go to China for the first time. At that time, I spent 2 weeks in Beijing and fell in love with the city, so I really wanted to come back and continue my studies here. Because of that, I decided to apply for the Chinese Government Scholarship and the Contemporary China Studies Program. I was lucky enough to be admitted to the program with a full government scholarship, that’s why I am here.

How did you find out about the Contemporary China Studies Program?

I found about it while I was looking for which universities to apply for the Chinese Government Scholarship. I have to admit I wasn’t well informed of the different universities in China, but I did want to study in Beijing, so I was searching for a while, reading about different universities. Since I already did my Bachelor’s in Sinology, I really wanted to continue studying in a China-related field. While looking at the CGS website and programs which they had, I choose those which I liked the best. The Contemporary China Studies Program at the Renmin University of China was my top choice.

As a second-year student you are working on your master’s thesis, what is your research about?

The topic of my thesis is student migration from Croatia to China. Originally, I wanted to research the influence of student migration on relations between China and Croatia, and how we can improve them. However, the number of Croatian students in China is quite small, hence that was not feasible, so I’ve changed my focus. Now I’m doing in-depth interviews with students who studied in Croatia to understand the push-pull factors that motivated their decision to move to China and see what we can learn about their experience studying here. It is still a very specific research topic; however, I’ve always had an interest in education, which is a topic generally ignored in Croatia. As I come from an academic background in China studies, I wanted my research to combine both fields.

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected your academic life, so far?

I can’t really say that the outbreak affected my academic life much. As with everybody who currently lives in China, the outbreak mostly affected my everyday social life. The university is doing their best to help us though, we were given masks and a thermometer for free, and they even arranged special opening hours for the shops. I am not leaving campus as much as I used to, therefore I am dedicating more time to my research. I’m on the last stage of data collection and I’m really pleased with my progress. Last semester I went to my supervisor’s office several times and we discussed my thesis extensively, so I believe I received enough feedback from my supervisor even before the whole outbreak started. Now I keep in touch with her through WeChat, with regular updates. Online guidance has its limitations, but I’m still able to receive valuable feedback.

Do you have plans for after graduation?

I’m planning on staying in Beijing for a few more years. I have already applied for a scholarship to continue my studies, but results will not be announced until summer. As I do not have any mandatory classes this year, I’m also doing an internship, so if it happens that I do not get a scholarship, I hope I find a full-time job.

Would you recommend this program to others?

I would definitely recommend it to those who have an interest in China and wish to broaden their knowledge by learning from top experts in China-related fields. The program offers quite interesting classes on various topics, such as international relations, politics and investments. Equally interesting were the trips which were organized by the program, such as visits to Hanenergy Renewable Energy Exhibition Center, Goldwind and CGTN headquarters, places we wouldn’t have been able to visit otherwise.