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Rewind 2023 | Fan Xueyuan: My self-discovering, eye-opening year
Dec 28, 2023
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Editor's note: Time to call it a year; and PKU News' editors and journalists have a lot to say about their versions of 2023. In the first installment of the "Rewind 2023" series, Fan Xueyuan, a doctoral student from the School of Foreign Languages, who is also an editor with PKU News, recollects her daily routines and academic works in 2023, plus a trip to Nigeria.

Peking University, December 28, 2023: For me in the past twenty-odd years, year review was not my kind of thing since I thought bygones were bygones and that only the yet-to-come mattered. However, as 2023 is drawing to a close, I find myself reflecting on this year which has been a transformative journey filled with memorable experiences and personal growth. I feel it necessary to pack up my 2023 to see how the past year has built me to who I am, and then prepare myself for the possible ups and downs that lie ahead.

To summarize my 2023 in one sentence, it witnessed my attempts to structure my daily routine while accommodating to changes and being open to explorations. 

2023 marks my transition from a first-year Ph.D. student to a second-year one. I felt a little bit bewildered at the start of my Ph.D. program, since my life became task-oriented without a regular schedule. As a result, I let deadlines for papers and projects lead my life, which intensified my sense of stress. 

At the beginning of 2023, I was determined to regain control of my life. I started to keep a schedule book, on which I made a to-do list every day without stipulating a specific time, so that I could have each day’s must-dos in mind according to a flexible daily plan. I also wrote down several New Year resolutions in terms of academic training and personal interests in this schedule book. 

This worked. When I recently leafed through this written-up schedule book, I found I had fulfilled most of the goals I had set for this year. What encouraged me most was that I managed to establish a routine for my life and stick to it, which enhanced my self-confidence for the future.

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My schedule book for 2023

Besides my commitment to structure my life, I tried many new things this year. 

Firstly, enrolling in intriguing courses added a layer of excitement to my academic journey, and each course brought a unique set of challenges and rewards. I have taken a Yoruba language course this year, where I learned about Yoruba language, culture, and literature through in-class interaction, close reading of Yoruba texts, and thought-provoking discussions, and met some fabulous people. The variety of topics I explored in this course has not only broadened my skill set but has also fueled my passion for continuous learning. 

Another interesting course I embarked on was a digital sculpture course held by the PKU student service team in Peking University Hall. It proved to be a fresh experience for me, as digital sculpture unveiled itself to me as a realm that broke the traditional boundaries of art and let creativity and technology converge seamlessly. 

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A taste of African food at the end of our Yoruba course

In addition, a defining moment in 2023 was my eye-opening trip to Lagos, Nigeria in the summer, where I attended a conference and did some fieldwork. 

Since I have few experiences of public presentation in another cultural context, I felt a little bit anxious before I took my flight there. I was fortunate to have my tutor Ying and my Yoruba teacher Funmi who helped me both in improving my academic performance and appreciating the diverse aspects of my field of study. 

I also received help from my friend Grace, who is a Yenching scholar and a local Lagosian, and a lot of encouragement from my classmates Yihua and Tingran. With their support, I managed to explore the cultural richness and economic vibrancy of Lagos. Engaging with real-world scenarios and bringing theoretical knowledge to a dynamic environment provided practical insights that complemented my academic studies.

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The author (center) at a fabric shop in Lagos

The moments of striving for control over life and the instances of trying new things contribute to the mosaic of growth and self-discovery in my 2023. I bid farewell to 2023 with gratitude for these meaningful experiences that have shaped me and the expectations for the adventures that await. 

Written by: Fan Xueyuan
Edited by: Dennis Meng
Photos by: Fan Xueyuan
Cover photo: Unsplash