The purpose of this article is to give you a good understanding of the student life as a foreigner in China. The views expressed in this post are solely based on my own experience.
Why going to China for studies?
There are a few different reasons to study in China:
– To experience another culture, live in a totally different environment. Many foreigners talk about “getting out of their comfort zone”, “challenge yourself” and simply become more open minded. China’s rich culture has a lot to offer to achieve this objective, whether you want to learn traditional arts such as calligraphy or to practice kung fu. More than just an academic background, studies are made to shape your thinking and immerging into another culture can definitely help this.
– As part of your professional project: China has been developing like no other country before for the past 15 years. Despite the recent economic crisis that has hit the country, China’s economy remains strong and work opportunities are still abundant for foreigners. Learning Chinese can therefore be a serious asset when doing business with China.
– To travel one of the largest and the most fascinating countries in the world. China has everything you can imagine in terms of monuments and landscapes: from the world’s highest mountains in Tibet to the tropical beaches in Hainan along with ancient villages and the futuristic megalopolis in Shanghai. The country is home to 56 different ethnic groups with their own dialect, traditions and cuisine.
– China is very affordable. Most students are not rich and living in a country like China might allow them to live a life they couldn’t afford back in their home country. Food, accommodations, transportation… pretty much everything is cheap in China. Not cheaper, just CHEAP. You can easily have a meal for $2 to 3. A taxi starts at $1.5 in Shanghai, half this price in a second-tier city.
Be open minded and adaptable
Living in another country, especially one with a very different culture, is something that any young person should experience, providing that you are adaptable and flexible enough to embrace and enjoy this other culture. Facing a culture shock can only be beneficial as long as you have an open mind and a thirst for discovery. If you manage to overcome the language barrier and cultural differences, you will make the most of your stay in China and come home with a very rewarding experience that will be useful for the rest of your life.
It is important for me to insist on this point, as I have met quite a few students who didn’t manage to overcome this culture shock and did not have a great time in China. I will go into this a bit more in depth in next week’s post.