Both Ellis and I have been living here in China for about 9 months now. Together with Yong we have explored many parts of China and also visited the Philippines.
Reading an article on Orient Excess about the high schools in China made me realize though: We never told you what our university life looks like.
First off: We might all be studying different subjects, at different Universities and are Chinese and foreign students but except the language courses are taught in and the dormitories almost everything is the same for all of us.
This post will focus on my experience as an international student majoring in international trade.
For most university students here, the schedules are quite free compared to the ones of Chinese students. In my second semester I have a total of 6 courses – this is more than you might have in a European university but I still have a lot of free time.
This means first of all that there is no general schedule you could follow every day.
Sometimes I get up at 7am, sometimes at 9 and on Tuesday for example I have a complete day off so I just turn off my alarm completely.
The offer of courses is not as broad as in a European university, you will get one schedule and then you can only pick a small number of courses.
This is mainly caused by the fact that most universities are just starting to teach foreign students in English.
Chinese students usually have slightly more classes than foreign students have but especially towards the end of your students life you will have less and less classes.
How do we learn in China?
As in the West, classes always depend on the teacher that you have. Either way, we can see clear differences between Western and Chinese teachers.
While most Western teachers I have had so far will try to interact with their students by asking questions and making the students think critically, most Chinese teachers are taking a different approach.
The traditional Chinese idea is to try to interact by asking you to repeat what they told you before. Chinese learning is very often dominated by repetition but due to the influence from the West this idea now changing.
Now most of teachers are trying to teach in a more Western way, so most of time you end up somewhere in the middle between these 2 teaching styles.
Outside of class, there is a lot more interaction between students and teachers than there was between me and most of my former teachers in Germany.
Most of us have the WeChat contacts of our teachers and since foreign students are often accommodated in the same dormitory as teachers, you often meet them downstairs in a coffee shop and can have a chat.
This is not only a thing for university students, high school students also have a lot more contact to their teachers.
How we are graded
The grading usually consists out of 50% the final exam, 20% attendance and 30% is some other kind of work such as a presentation, a mid-term exam or simply your homework.
We usually don’t get too much homework, for most of the semester I have not done more than 3 hours of homework per week on average – not including the normal revision. It all depends on how much interaction you had with your subjects before, since I was focusing on business classes at my high school, I don’t really need to revise some subjects.
Social life at the university
The social life for foreigners is very often dominated by meeting people from other foreign countries.
Since our courses are all English, there are not too many Chinese students that you can actually get to know in class.
That’s why many universities offer a club for foreign students. Chinese people are eager to get to know some foreigners, so go ahead and impress them with your Chinese skills!
Our university offers many activities for students. Almost every week we can take part in little activities to get informed about different aspects of Chinese culture such as Chinese calligraphy, flying kites or holding traditional tea ceremonies.
Additionally there are trips being done every once in a while, to interesting destinations nearby.
I personally like studying here in China quite a lot – staying and studying in a different country helps understand this diverse country than a normal holiday ever could.
Chinese degrees are almost accepted everywhere and people who have experience in China are in demand in many companies all around the world.
I hope you found our post about the students life here in China interesting. We are happy to discuss in the comments and would be grateful for shares and likes!