"Like many other students loving Chinese, I'm sparing no efforts to enrich my language proficiency to have chance to set foot in China for better studying," said Nguyen Thi Cam Nhung, a Vietnamese girl.
Charming in a pink Chinese dress, the 22-year-old student of the Hanoi University of Foreign Studies in Vietnam's capital city said she would make greater efforts to win a big prize ( scholarship for studying in China) in the 5th "Chinese Bridge" - Chinese proficiency competition for foreign college students - to be held in Beijing in July.
On Sunday, Nhung beat 12 Vietnamese students from six major Vietnamese universities in the preliminary round of the 5th " Chinese Bridge" held in Hanoi. She and the second-prize winner will participate in the final round along with contestants from some 50 countries.
"I've determined on becoming a lecturer of Chinese language at my university. So, I do want to study Chinese in China. Mastering only language skills is not enough. I hope myself as well as my future students really to wallow in the beauty of Chinese language and culture," Nhung said, smiling.
Nhung's statement was echoed by the first-prize winner of the 4th "Chinese Bridge" held in Beijing in 2005, Vu Thuy Trang, from the Hanoi University of Foreign Studies. In August, Trang will go to the Chinese capital to pursue an MA (master of arts) degree in business administration.
"Vietnamese people have an old saying: Travel broadens the mind. Studying in China will enrich our professional knowledge. There are many destinations for our studying abroad, but for me, China is most suitable due to great similarities in culture and economy of China and Vietnam," said the newly-graduated girl.
"When I came to Beijing, I was deeply impressed. China is a country you want to stay or at least want to come back again once you go there," she stated.
For many other Vietnamese youths, who have won no scholarships to pursue further studies in China, their families are making efforts to send them to the country. At the Guangxi Education Exhibition held in Hanoi on Saturday, Trinh Thanh Tu, a 27-year- old girl from the city, said her family members were looking for a high-quality Chinese university for her to pursue a master's degree.
"I've already gained a university degree in business administration in Vietnam. I want to deepen my professional knowledge to get a better job in the future. Now, I'm actively improving my Chinese language skills," Tu said.
Nguyen Ngoc Long, dean of the Department of Chinese under the Hanoi University of Foreign Studies, said the department annually have 500 graduates, some of them have followed further studies in China, either on scholarship or self-financed basis.
"Many Vietnamese people like to study in China mainly because of similarities in conditions regarding food, accommodation and travel of Vietnam and China. Psychological and physiological features of Vietnamese and Chinese people are also much the same," Long said.
Tuition fee and cost of living in China are suitable to financial ability of many Vietnamese households, he added.
"As early as in their third year, almost every student at the Chinese department have found a good part-time job. Their good command of Chinese makes it easy for them to have chance to work for Chinese-invested companies here," Long said, noting that more and more projects invested by Chinese-speaking people from China's mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan districts, Malaysia and Singapore are appearing in Vietnam.
Broadened and deepened bilateral ties, especially those in investment and trade between China and Vietnam have resulted in bigger numbers of both Vietnamese students and state cadres studying Chinese.
In recent years, many officials of Vietnamese localities bordering China, including Lao Cai and Lang Son, have been sent to China to study Chinese so that they can handle their work in the language.
According to statistics of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, there are now over 7,500 Vietnamese students studying in China.
Over the past five years, Chinese language training has seen a sharp rise, reflecting the country's rising position in Asia and the world. Nearly 40 million foreigners now learn Chinese language in some 12,400 schools or universities worldwide, said the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language under the Chinese Ministry of Education.
The number of foreigners learning Chinese around the world is expected to hit 100 million in 2010, said the office.
"In 2010, I think I would have been a highly qualified lecturer of both Chinese language and Chinese culture. Now, my short-term goal is to further study Chinese in Beijing and then come back to Vietnam, telling my future students about what I learn and see with my own eye," Nhung said with a hidden pride gliding past her lively face.