As Ceci Zhang, 23, began listing off the movies, TV shows and music she loves, it quickly became apparent that she’s an Anglophile. Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Skins and Coldplay are all British exports that while popular in their home country and in North America and Europe, have yet to truly attract a Chinese audience.
Regardless of this, Ceci, who’s from Hefei, Anhui Province, has found the British imports, and they now make up the core of her media consumption.
Ceci and her sister, Gigi, 24, live together and share much of the same interests, so they often make recommendations and watch movies and TV shows together.
Ceci said that she loves historical fiction, and that the British do it best. Classics like Pride & Prejudice and Jane Eyre and more recent movies-based-on-books like Atonement are her favorite because the story is a blend of historical context and relationship dilemmas.
Skins, a hugely successful British TV show about a group of high school-aged friends, is appealing to Ceci for just that reason: She loves that it’s a show about teenagers and their relationships and all of the complex decisions they have to make. (Ceci recommends seasons one and two.)
As the birthplace of the biggest pop group of all time, the Beatles, England continues to produce huge pop acts, and Ceci finds much of her favorite music from there instead of from China.
“I think China really has a lot of work to do to be better in (popular) music,” she said.
A world away from England, Ceci attended Binzhou Medical University in Yantai, Shandong Province, where she studied Information Management and Systems. She had wanted to study journalism since high school, but there was in issue with her university entrance exam and she had to attend a different school and pursue a different major than she had planned.
“I didn’t like the major at all, but I liked the city,” Ceci said. “I like to swim, jog and bike, and it’s a harbor city, so it’s beautiful but very windy.”
Today, Ceci is happy that she’s attending Tsinghua University for graduate school because she finally gets to pursue her dream of being a journalist that had to be put on hold during her undergraduate years.
Ceci said that due to the explosive popularity of the messaging app WeChat in China, many people no longer write traditional online blogs. Instead, people will create WeChat accounts where they post articles of interest and write commentaries. Ceci enjoys following a WeChat account called Ciweigongshe that focuses on societal trends and current events.
When asked if she would prefer to work for state-owned media or a commercial media outlet after graduation, she said that both types have advantages and shortcomings.
“You have to decide if you want to accept that an outlet is propaganda or that you have to create content that will make a profit,” Ceci said. “But I really want to work for an outlet like China Daily.”
Photo by Sarah Talaat.