Have you ever thought about moving abroad, for studying, working or living? In a world overwhelmed by the pandemic, global mobility has become a remote fantasy.
But many people still dream of exploring various countries beyond their own.
China has increasingly become a preferred destination for students from all over the world. In 2018, almost 492,000 international students studied in China. This makes China the third most popular host country.
Asians represent a big portion of the international student population in China. According to official statistics, in 2018, 60 percent of the international students in China were Asian.
Korea, Thailand, Pakistan, and India are the four countries with the largest number of international students in China.
However Asian students are largely underrepresented in the public sphere. Foreign influencers who enjoy the most media exposure on Chinese social media are predominantly from Western countries.
What are the experiences of Asian diaspora students in China? Why do they come to China in the first place?
How different are their expectations from reality? What are their post-graduate plans? Let’s hear what some Asian bloggers who’ve studied in China have to say.
Enzhen from Korea
Enzhen is a Korean woman who completed her undergraduate degree at Fudan University in Shanghai, one of the top universities in China.
She moved to China with her parents at the age of 15. She attended a prestigious international school in Shanghai with a large Korean presence.
Like many of her peers, Enzhen initially came to China because of her parents’ job changes. Due to the proximity of Korea and China both geographically and economically, there is a large number of Korean professionals in China.
Enzhen was reluctant to leave Korea and her friends in the first place but gradually fell in love with Shanghai for its modernity, diversity, and convenience. Now she plans on settling in Shanghai with her boyfriend, who is also a Korean expatriate.
Michelle Lionard from Indonesia
Michelle Lionard is an Indonesian woman. She is currently a junior student at Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University in Suzhou, a joint venture school formed by Xi’an Jiaotong University and Liverpool University.
Like many of her generation, Michelle always dreamt of studying abroad and exploring new cultures. She chose to study in China for two main reasons.
First, she thinks learning Chinese has become increasingly useful because China is gaining influence globally. Second, Chinese quality education is much more affordable compared to western countries.
In her videos, Michelle describes her student life in China as enjoyable. When she arrived at Suzhou for the first time, she was amazed at how tidy, modern and organized the city was.
This is in huge contrast to the media portrayal in her own country. She particularly loves the diversity of food and the advancement of e-commerce in China.
Due to the pandemic, Michelle has been locked in Indonesia and unable to return to China for the past year. She really misses her life and friends in China and hopes that she can head back soon.
Perspectives from Pakistan and Bangladesh
Many Central and South Asian countries border with Chinese southwest regions. Thousands of years of cultural and economic exchanges have made these regions close neighbors.
The One Belt One Road initiative also attaches strategic importance to the mutual ties between China and its bordering countries.
In a street interview featuring various international students in China, a Pakistani student and a Bengalese student shared their ideas about studying in China.
“China would become the biggest economy and consumer market in the world in the next decade with lots of potentials and opportunities. I simply don’t want to miss it,” said the Bengalese student.
The Pakistani man agreed, adding that the Pakistan-China alliance and the One Belt One Road initiative have opened room for more Pakistanis to seek quality education in China.
When asked about their post-graduation plans, both expressed their wish to go back to their home country. This is not because their China experience is in any way unsatisfactory.
In fact, they both have a shared “Chinese dream”: they hope to use what they have learned in China to develop their own country.
Perspectives from Taiwan
Due to tense relations between China and Taiwan in recent years, the number of Taiwanese students who choose to attend universities in the mainland is unclear.
The latest traceable data claimed that there were over 12,000 Taiwanese students in the mainland at the end of 2019.
Although the Taiwanese student population is limited in size, they are quite vocal on social media both within and beyond China. Taiwanese bloggers who share their university lives in the mainland have substantial numbers of followers.
Many of the bloggers have shortlisted the pros and cons of studying in the mainland compared to Taiwan in their own channels. The most comprehensive one is from Jackson Jean.
Jean is a graduate of Renmin University of China in Beijing. For Jean, the biggest pro of studying in China is the enormous opportunities and resources offered by the country’s vast population and market.
Additionally, Taiwanese students often enjoy preferential policies in the mainland. This makes mainland studying even more attractive.
Jean says the greatest con is the fierce competition facing not only foreign students but also domestic students. The incompatibility over the educational system and cultural norms also serves as potential challenges.
People come to study in China for various reasons. China is undoubtedly becoming the regional hub of quality higher education.
As the world is recovering from the pandemic, now is a great time to think about possible plans for studying abroad. Will China be one of your options? Tell us in the comments below!