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How We Met at PKU: Roommates to Best Friends

JUL . 31 2021
Peking University, July 31: Peking University offers a unique international campus environment for students of all nationalities, cultures, and backgrounds to pursue their passions and interests, welcoming students from all walks of life across the globe, as we gather here at Yanyuan, sharing the same PKU identity.

"How We Met at PKU" is an interview series showcasing the close-knitted bonds formed by various Pekingers across geographical borders at PKU, documenting these peculiar cross-cultural friendships formed into our shared PKU Family memory journal. This friendship day, we present you a story of two roommates who met at Peking University.

We welcome all current Pekingers and alumni to submit your stories at the end of this article.


Beatriz Isabel Contreras Navia (巴利), from Chile and Siti Nur Aqilah Binti Anuar (阿琦拉) from Malaysia are currently undergraduate students at the Peking University School of International Studies.

Siti Nur Aqilah Binti Anuar (left) and Beatriz Isabel Contreras Navia (right)

Roommates to Best Friends

4 years ago, Beatriz arrived in Beijing, at Peking University Global Village and checked in to her room all set to begin her Pre-University Program. However, it would be a whole two weeks before Beatriz would finally meet her roommate, Aqilah, who checked in only after Beatriz left for a trip to Inner Mongolia. New to the country and checked-in to a half-occupied room, Aqilah was left curious about her roommate. They share that they only met each other few days before the registration day.

Photo of Aqilah and Beatriz in their dorm

Aqilah confessed that Beatriz initially gave her a serious and unapproachable impression. However, the first impression doesn't mean the last impression. Aqilah was quick to admit that once she got to know Beatriz better, she didn't realize how and when her perspective changed. Whereas, Aqilah had already impressed Beatriz. She shares that she found Aqilah small and cute and gave her a very humble impression. 4 years down the line, they have become classmates from roommates and bonded from friends to sisters.

Aqilah and Beatriz on campus

"It requires a lot of work, and no one is going to lie about it; I know it was difficult, but I also knew that was what I wanted to do."

Making Memories

The welcoming and warm Boya Pagoda lights shine under the moonlight as the lake glistens with the breeze. The Weiming Lake on campus has witnessed many friendships throughout the academic years.

For them, it was long walks around Weiming Lake that sparked their friendship. Beatriz and Aqilah also found solace in peaceful walks around the lake and heart-to-heart conversations. They even stopped by at sites to capture the moment into saved memories. For them, this particular picture out of the many pictures that day was "not just a simple picture" but a reflection of their friendship. The walks not only helped them learn more about each other but also helped them take a refreshing break from assignments.

"I am so blessed to have her in my life."

Aqilah and Beatriz poses after snowfall in front of their dorm building

Most often, the best memories are made during the most difficult times. For Aqilah and Beatriz, the biggest challenges they overcame together was the one-year Pre-University Program and successfully enrolling into Peking University undergraduate program at the same school, the School of International Studies. 

"There are times when we felt like giving up, but both of us hold hands and motivated each other throughout the journey."

Aqilah and Beatriz with friends

Unfinished Plans

4 years ago, Aqilah and Beatriz started as strangers and now they consider each other one of the closest people. Aqilah admits that Beatriz's bubbly and sometimes crazy attitude really brightens up her day. Beatriz shares that they are similar in certain ways which makes it easier for them to understand each other.

"I found one of my best friends on the other side of the world"

Although miles apart, Beatriz and Aqilah stay connected and updated. They recall the wonderful times spent on campus and also a class trip to Inner Mongolia. Their Inner Mongolia trip with their friends was refreshing and eye opening for them. They not only learned about Chinese culture but also realized the essence of travelling and exploring China.

Aqilah (middle) and Beatriz (right) during their class trip to Inner Mongolia

They hope to travel inside China and tick off all the places they have on their bucket list. However, since the pandemic their plans have yet to resume.

Once the pandemic ends, they look forward to late-night chats and deep and emotional tête-à-tête while eating mid-night snacks and takeaways on their favorite fluffy carpet in their room.

What is one thing you would like to say to each other?

Aqilah: Bea, thank you for being there for me through thick and thin. We fought, we cried but later we reconcile. That is also how life is, you struggle, you break down but later, you rise back up. You are stronger than you think. I am always here for you, supporting your every move. Let's reach our dreams together, See you at the top!

Beatriz: I wished I could tell her more how much I appreciate her being by my side, and how thankful I am for being my friend, even after everything we've been through, first the difficulties of our studies and then this pandemic, she just stood beside me and supported me on this journey.

Writer: Aneka R. Rajbhandari
Editor: Pu Hairui
Producer: Amanda Hu
Photo: Beatriz Isabel Contreras Navia, Siti Nur Aqilah Binti Anuar
Designer: Aneka R. Rajbhandari, Goh Chia Chia