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Lucy Bei knows that language influences how we understand ourselves and those around us.
‘Language has the capacity to shape the way we perceive things, influence the way we behave, and change the way we feel,’ she says.
Lucy studies a Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy and Economics and a Bachelor of Languages, majoring in Chinese.
‘I wanted to gain further insight into my Chinese heritage and culture, and with that, gain a deeper connection to my roots. I strongly believe that language is inextricably intertwined with culture and that some aspects of culture can only be truly understood through learning its language,’ she explains.
Lucy was also motivated the study the language by the growing number career opportunities available to Chinese speakers. She aims to work in diplomacy or policy advisory on the climate economy, where her language skills will be in high demand.
Because Lucy was a heritage speaker and had previously studied the language in high school, she was able to enter the Chinese program at an advanced level. She took Modern Chinese 5 and 6 in her first year, and is currently studying Advanced Modern Chinese A.
‘I thoroughly enjoyed taking those courses because the teachers were so enthusiastic and thus made learning the language engaging and enjoyable,’ she says. ‘Not only did I get to expand my vocabulary and perfect my grammar, I was able to gain further insight into Chinese culture and history as the courses were centred on culture.’
Lucy loves that there is a depth of meaning behind the Chinese language, perhaps best seen in four-character idioms known as chengyu. As she explains, these phrases have incomprehensible direct translations in English, but when studied in cultural and historic context they become a story.
‘The four characters combine to encapsulate highly complex ideas,’ she says.
While Lucy advises that potential students of Chinese should be determined to work hard, she says that they should not be intimidated.
‘No pain, no gain. At first learning Chinese will seem like learning another language from a foreign universe as it has little to no lexical similarity to English. With time and commitment, however, the small oddities and subtleties of the language will become second nature to you. So, do not lose hope! Chinese is a very learnable language that offers a wealth of benefits in return.’