Even before I started my studies, I knew I wanted to go abroad. During my first semester, it became increasingly clear that China would be my country of choice. At the end of the first semester, I found out about my options at the International Office and independently researched possible whereabouts.
Since the university has no partnerships with universities in China for the ” Management of Renewable Energies ” course, I was largely on my own right from the start. I spent countless hours on the web, writing e-mails or on the phone to find a university that was suitable for a semester abroad, after which I ideally don’t have to repeat a whole semester. When I had almost given up hope of a semester abroad, I came across the website “MicroEDU “, which provides free contacts between universities abroad and students. At first I was a bit skeptical, but just asked to find out if they knew universities that would fulfill my wishes. To my great surprise, there was a university and that was the Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU for short). Behind the bulky name hides a relatively young university, which arose from a merger of the Jiaotong University from Xi’an and the British Liverpool University. Their aim is to bring Western or specifically British teaching concepts to China and to offer an alternative to the rather rigid Chinese teaching methods there. I liked this idea and decided to apply to XJTLU with the help of MicroEDU. I was always able to contact my supervisor at MicroEDU with any questions. The application itself was then relatively quick, provided that all the things that were asked were quickly put together. These included:
- Application form
- Proof of English (DAAD test)
- Transcript (certificate of grades)
- 2 letters of recommendation
- Copy of the passport
After I had submitted my application documents, everything went very quickly and after a few weeks I received the confirmation that I could study as a so-called “visiting student” at the XJTLU. I selected the subjects I would study in China beforehand from the very clear course catalog and clarified with the lecturer so that recognition is guaranteed. I recorded that in a simple learning agreement.
Unfortunately, with my wish to go to China without a direct partnership between the universities, I also had to accept that I might have to pay tuition fees. This was also the case. The university in China charged a fee of 44,000RMB which corresponds to about 5600 €. Of course it was a huge bunch, but with the help of my parents and friends, I was able to do this. In addition, I applied for the PROMOS scholarship at the International Office of the HSWT, which I finally got. In addition, the XJTLU granted me a “Visiting Student Scholarship”, which almost completely covered my rental costs in China for half a year. The cost in China was very cheap on the condition that you like Chinese food. Western restaurants were usually more expensive or just as expensive as in Germany.
For a citizen of the Federal Republic of Germany, it was very easy for me to get a student visa for China. All I had to do was take the invitation letter that the university sent me to the Visa Service Center of the People’s Republic of China in Munich and pick up my passport there after 5 days. Then everything was ready for my great adventure.
About a week before the university in China started, I flew from Munich via Beijing to Shanghai.
After I landed in Shanghai, committed students from the XJTLU were waiting for me and the other international students. In the first few minutes I was able to greet fellow students from six different countries. We then all went to the bus that took us to Suzhou, about an hour and a half away. There we were helped to move into our accommodation that we had previously booked.
I used the first few days to explore my new campus and the area. Of course, the university also organized countless events where we could get to know our fellow students and also get used to the processes at the university. The campus was huge. It took me a few days to find my way around.
One of the first things I did was to get a SIM card for my phone (with 32 GB of data) for a few euros a month. I also opened a bank account with the help of the International Office.
Culturally, China is of course a completely different world. It helped me to be open about everything that happened and to compare things with Germany as little as possible. So I first had to get used to the local cuisine (which I now love) with its very special food culture. I also noticed immediately that a cell phone is the most important thing for the Chinese. You pay with it (there was almost no cash) or you send yourself cute pictures via WeChat – the Chinese Whatsapp. Practically all communication went through WeChat. The university also had an official channel.
The city of Suzhou, which is also called ” Venice of the East “, is located east of Shanghai. It has about 10 million inhabitants and is an important economic center in China. Many well-known companies such as Apple, Logitech or General Electric have factories at this location.
Wencui Plaza （文萃 广场）
I lived in the Parfait International Apartment on Wencui Plaza, where almost all of the internationals were staying. There I was staying in an apartment with five other students from Australia, the Netherlands and Korea. Everyone had their own little room with a wet room, which I thought was perfectly fine.
The campus was new and incredibly modern. In addition, a second campus was built across from the north campus, where I mainly had classes, which was architecturally even more spectacular.
The lectures were roughly the same as in Germany. I had two Chinese and two foreign teachers who all taught in English.
The subjects I took were:
- MAN203 E-Business Systems
- ACF215 Business Law
- ACF215 Management Accounting
- MAN101 Fundamentals of Marketing
A small difference was that during the semester, in contrast to Germany, you had significantly more submissions that were also relevant for the final grades. Of course, this varies from subject to subject. These so-called assignments were mostly group projects on a larger scale.
The language course was one of the most valuable experiences of the semester for me. Here you not only learned the language, but also made friends and learned a lot about Chinese culture. I went to this course with little previous knowledge and I have to say that in the end I was at least able to communicate in Chinese, which made traveling after my exams and generally everything that was not on campus (which was operated entirely in English) much easier.
The organization of the entire operation of the college was generally okay. Sometimes it happened that you had to dig deeper into certain things, but that worked quite well with a certain amount of initiative.
Of course, you don’t just sit in the university during your semester abroad. On weekends I always explored “smaller” cities in the region or went to Shanghai. During the semester, other fellow students made larger and larger trips. I, on the other hand, decided to get to know locals and thus experience many hidden or really local things in Shanghai or Suzhou, for example.
After I had written all of my exams, I went on a journey through China for a month. On my list were cities like Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Guilin, Zhangjiajie (Avatar Mountains), Chengdu, Xi’an and Beijing. During this time I traveled through different climates and different landscapes.
Basically, I traveled in China by train. Tickets are easy to book once you understand the system. Tickets can be bought online or at the train station. As a foreigner, however, you always have to go to the counter to pick up the tickets with your passport. Flights could also be booked relatively cheaply via common booking platforms.
In conclusion, I can say that this stay was an incredible experience and will influence my life forever. I can recommend to anyone who is thinking about going to China to dare this adventure and get to know a completely new world and have an incredible number of new experiences and make friends from all over the world.