Polina Malahova, a Latvian student, came to South China Normal University in 2023 with a longing for China and a love of martial arts. She is a language student at the School of International Culture. She also owns a special identity - a foreign member of the SCNU martial arts team.

Wushu, a form of Chinese martial arts, has brought her a lot. "I have become stronger and braver by learning wushu. Practising it makes me healthier and also allows me to become a better version of myself in many ways."

Click the video to learn more about Polina.

At a young age, Polina was introduced to martial arts under the influence of Bruce Lee and the movie Mulan. "At that time, I felt that martial arts were quite graceful as well as powerful." At the age of 15, Polina engaged in a summer camp. She not only practised martial arts in the training, but also learned about the knowledge about the origins of wushu. In 2022, she participated in the 6th European Kungfu Championships and won first place in the taolu other bare-hand inner style events.

After finishing her undergraduate education, she turned to the Confucius Institute at the University of Latvia. With the help of teachers and schoolmates, she heard about South China Normal University. "At that time, my teacher introduced SCNU to me, so I went to collect information on line related to the university, and therefore noticed that it had a martial arts team."


Polina trains with her teammates.

Compared to life in Latvia, it was difficult for Polina to get used to Guangzhou's lively and bustling city atmosphere when she first arrived. "I think I am quite similar to a rabbit, since we are both introverted but energetic." After a period of adaptation to the new life, she found her new lifestyle. Besides her Chinese language learning, she also heads to the University Town campus for wushu training many times a month. In the martial arts team, she was exposed to more martial techniques such as ba duan jin, qigong and taijiquan (tai chi).

"New things are happening every day. There are a lot more people than in Latvia, so there are also a lot of activities, bringing much fun to me!" Polina participated in many contests and performances, most of which had to do with wushu. For example, she won three gold medals at the 2023 China University wushu taolu Championships.


Polina wins gold respectively in jianshu, quanshu and xiangxingquan contests.


Polina (in pink robe) and other students of the School of International Culture participate in the 2023 International Students Gala and perform martial arts.

She also performed wushu at the 6th International Cultural Festival and the 20th-anniversary development conference of the School of International Culture. Among them, the most important performance was the 90th anniversary of SCNU.


Polina and other martial arts team members engage in the performance of the 6th International Cultural Festival.


Polina performs quanshu at the 20th-anniversary development conference of the School of International Culture.

In November 2023, Polina participated at the art performance in celebration of the 90th anniversary of SCNU as a member of the martial arts team. "I'm rather nervous but excited. On the one hand, the feeling of performing on stage is something I can't get in everyday life; on the other hand, I can enjoy the performances of other athletes on the scene on my own."



Polina practises jianshu in the song and dance performance "Towards a Better Future".

Moreover, she made a Chinese friend during the rehearsal days. "A girl came up to me, just like so many others have done in the past, and asked for my nationality, major, etc. At first, I thought that would be the end of our conversation. But what surprised me was that we just kept talking with each other. " After that, they often chatted with each other even after the performance. They had meals together and talked about their daily life at the weekend.

Life in China is always busy. "When I'm nervous before competing or feeling tired, I listen to my favorite music to give myself a break." To Polina, her tight schedule fulfills and lightens up her days at SCNU. "The events that happened during this short time will remain in my memory for the rest of my life and I can't wait to see what new happy experiences the future will bring," she wrote in her story.


Polina and Niu Xiaomei, a wushu coach who helps Polina a lot.

Polina had already obtained a certificate in teaching martial arts and tried her hand at it as well in Latvia. "When I return to my homeland, I think I'll make martial arts my dedicated career and continue to teach it."

Written by Lin Yingtong, Liang Dingyu, Zeng Wenting

Proofread by Edwin Baak

Edited by Li Jianru

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