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Overseas Students in XMU

XMUICE    Public:ICE    Datetime:2011/4/17

Xiamen University is located on the southern shore of Xiamen Island, in a city which is widely recognised as the most liveable city in China. The University was a pioneer in providing educational opportunities for overseas students, and for many decades now it has been warmly welcoming students from all over the world. Currently, some 1000 or so overseas students are pursuing regular courses at Xiamen University. The delightful environment on this beautiful campus enables them to enjoy their life here as well as to make great progress thanks to the excellent academic atmosphere provided by its excellent academic staff and superb research facilities. At Xiamen University, many overseas students develop a passionate interest in Chinese and in China´s traditional culture. They can be seen participating in many cultural activities in the University, and many of them leave the campus to enjoy the larger stage of Xiamen itself. Let us hear what they have to say about their life in Xiamen and their perceptions of Xiamen University.

Magnus Bain from Norway
- Master´s student in Chinese Civil and Commercial Law

"It is not easy to describe Xiamen University and our lives on this island with a few words. I could focus on the fact that Xiamen University is a famous university in China, with a beautiful campus and long beaches nearby, but I am not going to. The pictures speak for themselves. Instead I would like to say that this city has a relaxed atmosphere. We live a comfortable life here. Xiamen is a modern city with everything you need.
To be honest with you, at times it can be hard to live in China. The culture is still different. The language is the biggest barrier. Most people here speak some English but in the end you are better off learning a few words of Chinese yourself. It is actually not that difficult to learn. At the moment very few people from overseas have even a basic knowledge of Chinese law. Foreign companies mainly rely on Chinese staff to do their legal work. With a background in Chinese law you would be able to offer almost unique knowledge about doing business in one of the most important economies in the world. It is a study choice for the future. "

Cendrawaty T. from Indonesia:
- Master´s student in Literature

During my stay in China I´ve visited many places and cities; each has its own culture and charm that stunned me in many different ways. However, Xiamen is the one that has impressed me the most. I fell in love with Xiamen the moment I landed at this beautiful place. With the friendliest and warmest people I´ve ever met in China, and delicious cuisine, Xiamen is really a recommended place for anyone who wishes to have a cosy, healthy life.
As the city has a deep tie on me, it is pretty much understandable that I chose Xiamen University to continue my graduate programme. The campus speaks for itself, and indeed justifies my true feeling for the city. Xiamen University is one of the most beautiful campuses I´ve ever seen, with its lakes, elegant and classic buildings, and numerous stadiums. The atmosphere of study at Xiamen University is also very stimulating; the relationship between the professors and students is pretty cool and informal but with mutual respect.
I really feel at home at Xiamen University. One of the experiences that I´ll never forget is getting to know what "Bo Bing" is, a local dice game which is quite interesting and fun to play. Finally, thank you Xiamen for making my life worth living.

Mohammed Mahabubur Rahman from Bangladesh:
- Master´s student in Ecology

I came to Xiamen University in 2006 on a Chinese government scholarship to study for a master´s degree leading to a PhD. Specifically I am a student of Pollution Ecology in the Department of Biology. I feel very proud because I have found some rare characteristics here in this university especially in my research lab.
First of all, I must mention my teachers, fellow students and the excellent learning environment. Secondly, the scientific research at this university is really incomparable with many scientific research papers published every year in renowned international journals. Thirdly, all the people of the campus are friendly! They are willing to talk with you and help you. Fourthly, Xiamen is modern and is one of the cleanest cities in China. Xiamen is a coastal city, well-known for its natural beauty, tourist attractions, and friendly people. Transport is very convenient with bus routes linking all locations. So I think Xiamen University has already reached great heights and is one of the most famous universities in China. This is indeed a very beautiful university!

Elisa from Italy:
- Study, sports, and competition

When, in September 2008, I bravely or crazily arrived in Xiamen without knowing a single word of Chinese, the first days around the city were pretty challenging to the point of being hilarious - staring at the street signs in mysterious Chinese characters and trying to use gestures to communicate with the lovely and friendly Xiamen people. A few days later I set foot in the office of the Xiamen University Overseas Education College and had a pleasant surprise…not only did the registration go smoothly, but also many existing students were there to assist the new and lost students by translating and answering questions and doubts. One of them really kindly accompanied me in searching for an apartment and helped me with the real estate agency, then to buy a phone-card, and showed me around the city and much more. I didn´t, at any time, get frustrated about not being able to communicate myself, and didn´t feel any culture shock despite the differences between Italian and Chinese customs. It´s probably also thanks to the simply beautiful Xiamen and positive vibrations all around the city that I just felt immediately welcome and at home.
At first I hadn´t planned how long I would stay in China … maybe one year, maybe two. I am now in my third year and haven´t had enough yet of this wonderful experience. This new adventure is absorbing me totally. So I agreed to be part of the Students Association and I am always happy to offer myself to help as class representative. This may also be because I´m not 20 years old anymore, and after about 15 years working in my country I am totally enjoying this plunge back into student life and want to live every bit of it. Xiada teachers are not only professional and knowledgeable, but they also try to build a human relationship with the students and are willing to help and give advice outside studying matters. A couple of times per semester they arrange extra-class activities for us, such as trips to Zhanghou, Gulangyu, the Tulou, multiethnic lunches, delicious dinners with KTV, bicycle trips, bowling days and many more. These extra-class activities are really a great help for teachers and students coming from different countries and various backgrounds to get to know each other.
Soon after the karaoke competition the University also organized a sports competition…our team was the only laowai team and out of 20 teams we came 20th. If there had been 30 teams we would have been the 30th! All the Chinese teams had been seriously training for weeks in the sports fields, but us, we didn´t even meet one time before the competition not even to try a few jumps. When our competitors were already at the end of the race, our last member would be still running in his sack struggling to get to the end at least. We laowai also have a face to save! Anyway, what was important that day for our team, a great mix of nationalities, 1 Italian (me!), 2 from Cape Verde, 1 from Thailand, 2 from France, 1 from Pakistan, 2 from the Philippines and 1 from Russia, was having the chance to know each other more out of the classroom and to have a great laugh. But next time we will win!
Apart from that, there is also a very interesting event in Xiada: the Chinese Language Competition. Sadly I haven´t been brave enough to participate so far; I´m just too shy. But I really appreciate the university organising all these events, and I would like to encourage other students not be as cowardly as me but to try instead and take part in all the possible activities, in order to meet new friends, beat their fears, improve their language skills, and get more self-confident; to use their precious time in China to absorb as a sponge as much as this fascinating culture can transmit to us.

Martin from Indonesia:
- Chinese language, songs, and arts

Although I have nearly finished my final year at college, actually I have realised that I am just beginning the process of recognising Chinese culture, my dream ever since the first time I came here. Unfortunately, I was not able to master the Chinese language quickly, which is the most important requirement to learn Chinese culture. Since my Chinese language has improved, it can help me to recognise the beauty, the values, and the meaning of Chinese culture. But, at this point, I have nearly finished my study and should leave China and work in Indonesia.
The study of Chinese literature and culture have inspired me on how the Chinese people give a meaning to their life and appreciate their life. In my heart I admire and have a deep impression of how Chinese culture makes people experience joy and happiness, but it is not overwhelming. It also makes people experience sorrow and shed their tears but does not leave a deep scar in their heart. Moreover, it also teaches me the harmony between people and nature which leads to peaceful, beautiful, and enjoyable life. Nature does not only produce crops but also teaches us to be wise, and the beauty of nature can satisfy our souls. From a bitter life full of challenge and difficulty, Chinese culture was born and became not only fascinating, but also a meaningful culture which contains a lot of wisdom.
My enjoyment of a Chinese song and music led me to be interested in Chinese culture. At that time, I did not understand the meaning of the lyrics but I could feel its soul. When I listened to it, I felt as if I was in a different and magnificent world, which was created from the relationship between humans and nature. I asked someone who can speak Chinese the meaning of that Chinese song´s lyrics, and I became more interested in and amazed by Chinese. Up till now my first impression of Chinese culture has never changed, because there is a spirit in Chinese culture which is in line with my own dream.
When I learned the Chinese language, I experienced exhaustion because I felt that I could no longer see the beauty of the Chinese language. Therefore, in that situation I tried to listen to Chinese music and tried to translate the lyrics. I also repeatedly listened to my favourite Chinese songs and learned how to sing them. Besides that, I really like to watch Chinese drama series. They are interesting because the stories show the reality of life and the messages from the story educate the audiences. Chinese music and drama help me to revise the material that had been told in the class.
I like arts quite a lot. Besides learning Chinese, I use my free time to sing Chinese songs. I have also entered the karaoke competition in the university almost every year. Besides that, I also enjoy Chinese paintings and Chinese calligraphy; I had the opportunity to join in calligraphy competitions too. In my opinion, calligraphy balances the Chinese learning journey that is sometimes stressful and tiring. There is this harmony in music and calligraphy that really interests me. The values of wisdom and the beauty of Chinese culture will always attract me. I am grateful that the Overseas Education College gave me the chance to learn Chinese arts. I hope that one day, I will have one more chance to learn not just the language, but the Chinese arts and culture more deeply.

Martin Wiley Woods from the US:
- The most popular participant in Chinese Bridge 2010

I come from Louisville in Kentucky; it´s one of the less-known cities in the US. One of my high school teachers was keen on Chinese culture and taught us a bit about the Chinese writing system and language. The first expressions I came across were first is "Ni", "Hao, "Ma" - meaning "Hello" - and "Yi´, "Er", "San" - "one", "two", "three". I found it very interesting and asked my mother whether I could go to China. To my surprise, my mother agreed without a second thought; it seemed she believed I was kind of simple-minded that I would not be accepted. But, as it turned out, I was. Besides, one of my high school seniors told me that he had once studied at Xiamen University, which was very beautiful, as soon as you went out the gate you were by the sea. At the beginning of 2008, I came to Xiamen University myself with high expectations, even though I only knew a few Chinese characters. I can still remember: it was past eleven in the evening when I arrived at Xiamen Gaoqi Airport. Seeing the pitch-darkness outside, I was so scared that I could not even find the courage to step out of the door and decided to sleep in the airport lounge, until two o´clock when I was woken up by a security guard.
When I came to Xiamen, I was eager to learn the Chinese language well. At first, I dared not open my mouth to speak Chinese; I felt my Chinese was awful, just like a kid in kindergarten. Later, one of my friends told me that listening to Chinese songs would help with learning Chinese. I went to Zhongshan Road and bought two CDs. But, good heavens, I could not understand even a single word of the songs. Chinese was so difficult to learn, but I soon began to gain confidence. That was because one of my Chinese friends told me the names of the two singers: one was Lee Hom Wang; the other was Jay Chow. He also told me that many Chinese people did not understand what they were singing, either.
I met many excellent "talent scouts" in the Overseas Education College. One of them was my teacher Ms. Zhang Li. She discovered both my talent and my love of performing. She was convinced that I was quick-witted, thoughtful, and a good performer. Ms. Zhang gave me a lot of support and set up an opportunity for me to take part in a well-known programme on China Central Television. Although my Chinese was still not good at that time, I still thought it would be a good opportunity to practise. I had chaired many competitions and events in Xiamen University and my Chinese had improved greatly.
I have taken part in the CCTV programme "Chinese Bridge" twice and have become a familiar face for many people. In 2009, I reached the semi-final, but came 31st. The sad thing was that only the first thirty competitors go on to the final. At the time, my teachers and classmates all thought I could make it, and I am a person who wants to do well in everything, so I preferred to say that I came first of those who did not make it to the final. In 2010, when I took part in the competition again, I was more familiar with the rules and much more confident. I responded to any question quickly, whether I understood it or not. Many people on the Internet supported me for my performance and I became the most popular competitor online. Actually the ranking was not that important to me; coming first did not mean your Chinese was the best, and it was just a TV programme. I had taken part in it as an opportunity to practise and meet others. I wanted to master the Chinese language by the time I graduated and then pursue postgraduate studies. My interests are in performance and arts management. I want to stay in Xiamen, but that still depends on whether I got a good opportunity. This place has become my second hometown. I don´t like eating western-style food any more, and, apart from Sea Worm Jelly - a local speciality - my eating habits have become even more local than those of the locals.

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