"It was 2007 when I first came into contact with Dutch students of the Willem de Kooning Academy. They were to exchange in Shanghai for the Shanghai Design Week. Through this contact, I was very curious about the Netherlands. My life in Shanghai was already quite solid, I did so for the next 30 years in the same boring way to live through. Same job, same house. This vision led to unrest and I decided to change something. In 2010 I moved to the Netherlands and started my training Communication Media Design at the Piet Zwart Institute.
My first introduction to Rotterdam was not exactly what I expected. I left Shanghai, an extremely modern city with many new buildings. I expected in Rotterdam opposite; a typical Dutch town, with cute canals and old buildings. Rotterdam meets of course not really this. However, the city won my heart and I am very pleased with the confidence that I can stay until 2020. As an entrepreneur, it is a difficult process may continue. I course a process at the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which takes a lot of energy and money. But it is worth it. I feel so free and quiet in the Netherlands. There is less social pressure and noise than in Shanghai. Since the city is never quiet. My first Christmas in the Netherlands, for example, I noticed the difference. I was in good spirits on the way to the market, when I found out that the whole town was deserted. It felt like I played in a horror movie, like a ghost town. That is never the case in Shanghai, no matter what holiday it is. Endless pressed, liveliness, a 24-hour economy.
In my work I bring these cultures and differences together. I hope Rotterdam Chinese New Year can show the modern side of China in the future. This celebration can open the traditional break and the dialogue between different cultures. The distorted image of Chinese locals is often that they are closed and move in their own community. Rotterdam Chinese New Year is a chance to prove otherwise and get to know each other. We are all locals. "
Cola Zhang (1986) was born in Shanghai, China and has lived since 2010 in Rotterdam. It is an independent media designer and focuses its work on the two cultures from China and the Netherlands.
Image: Mark Bolk Text: Marjolein de Jong
Read more about Rotterdam Chinese New Year.