The Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition for College Students, which has been held annually since 2002, consists of two phases: overseas preliminaries and competitions in China. This year the competition included “crossing the bridge” (written test, speech, and talent show), quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals. Laura Somersalo from University of Eastern Finland was the winner of the Finnish Preliminaries of 2019 International Chinese Bridge Competition and she was sent to China to compete.
According to Laura, the trip went very well, although she did not make it to the World Top 30. She thought was very nice to meet others who have also been learning Chinese and exchange ideas in an international environment. It is actually exactly the reason why many students want to participate in the competition, it is a great way to make new friends from all over the world and in the end, the result of the competition is not as important as the overall experience.
The contestants were split into categories according to their continent of origin and most of the trip was spent with the people in the same category. For example meals, bus rides and competitions were all together with students from the same continent.
In Beijing, on the first day there were some interviews and taking of promotional pictures. On the second day the contestants were taken on a tour to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. On the third day they were taken to visit the Great Wall and then taken to the airport from where they flew to Changsha.
Changsha was the location of the actual competition. One day was spent in an exam which included listening comprehension, cultural and historical questions and an essay. Two days were spent in watching everyone’s personal performances, since this year in Changsha there were 157 university students from 122 countries. There was also a day in studio with multiple choice questions which was completed in groups split by continents.
After the competition, there were a few days to do sight seeing in Changsha before the eliminated contestants were sent back home. The weather was hot and it did not rain much, the food was good. As a prize for participating and representing Finland in the competition, Laura received a 6-months scholarship to study in China.