Erning Zhu studied German Language in Beijing and came to Germany in early 1989 to continue her studies in translation science in Leipzig, which was then part of the socialist German Democratic Republic (GDR). At the time she said everything looked dark and grey there compared to home in Nanjing, China. Later that year she changed to the University of Kiel to earn her master's degree. The iron curtain soon fell, but she remained in Germany. In 1996 she joined DW and has been an editor with DW's Chinese department ever since.