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Becoming Don Quixote in China

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By Miguel López San Gregorio | | Updated: Feb 25, 2022

[Spain] Miguel López San Gregorio, Beijing Institute of Technology

Miguel López San Gregorio [Photo provided to]

We Spanish are keen on knight novels. When I was in elementary school, teachers let us read novels about heroes’ adventures in the Middle Ages, among which the most famous one was Don Quixote.

Although he seems to be a little crazy, he is still the noblest character in Spanish literature, so young people in Spain always want to follow him in some ways. I cannot ride a horse, neither can I fence like him, but his spirit of striving for the goal inspires me. I said to myself: whatever pain may come, I want to go to China!

I had been thinking about acquiring my doctor’s degree in China for quite long, but my parents wanted me to study in the United States. When I was admitted into Beijing Institute of Technology, happiness and excitement overwhelmed me, but I also felt a little worried.

I would have to convince my parents at first, or I wouldn’t be able to achieve my dream without their support. They have devoted too much to me, so their feelings should be well considered. Though they always give me the freedom to choose my own path, it still was a difficult task to get their approval.

I talked to my father first, telling him that no matter if I went to the United States or China, nothing could guarantee me a bright future. I did not go blindly into that decision; instead, I’ve given mature consideration to it.

I can receive good education in Beijing Institute of Technology like any other famous universities in the United States. Moreover, I want to learn more about Confucian culture, meet new friends and experience a different life in a new environment, and become more inclusive.

Then I talked with my mother. I knew what she was concerned about, and that was that I might feel lonely and would gradually estrange myself from my family.

I told her that as the network is well developed nowadays, we can easily contact with each other as we wish. I will also encounter with many kind and friendly Chinese people, and I will take good care of myself.

They finally agreed, which was of vital importance to me. In the process of persuading my parents, their doubts were cleared up, and I also got the firm belief that China was the best choice. I would fight for my dream like Don Quixote, and I will never give up no matter what problems come to me.

One of the most famous scenes in Don Quixote is the old knight fighting against a giant.The giant in his eyes is actually a windmill. For me, the buildings in Beijing and Beijing Institute of Technology all could be regarded as giants. Luckily, I met a group of nice teachers and classmates that Don Quixote never had.Thanks to their kindness, I live happily in Beijing.

If my life could be written into a novel, they would all play very important roles in it.The ending of Don Quixote is not perfect. One day, another knight wanted to duel Don Quixote. Don Quixote was very weak and a little muddled at that time.

Although his friends asked him to take a rest and make some preparations, Don Quixote refused, thinking that he can defeat that knight. Unfortunately, Don Quixote was finally defeated, the horse dismounted him and he never stood up again.

The story of Don Quixote inspired me a lot. I need to listen to my friend’s advice, and the giant in my eyes may be the windmill in their opinion. If I fight against giants or other knights alone, I am condemned to fail. Although I do not want to be a brave knight, the Spanish hero’s spirit encourages me to pursue my Chinese dream, and become Don Quixote in China.

The story is from "My Beautiful Encounter with China" Essay Competition organized by the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchanges (CSCSE).