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Xi'an Jiaotong University


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  • 9 months later...
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  • 8 months later...



So I'm going to write a bit about my year at Jiaoda, I'm sorry some of this will be a bit negative but I think I should be honest, and I think its important to say that overall I really enjoyed my experiences in China.



The campus is really good, I really enjoyed the parks there, its vast and full of hidden little beautiful spots.

The food there is a hit or miss, but I was still able to find some good stuff to eat all the time, and its very cheap even for China.

The neighborhood of the campus is also quite amazing! That's where the good stuff is: there are lots of café's, restaurants, street food vendors everywhere surrounding it, and you can buy everything you will need maximum 10 minutes away from the campus be it computers, household items or cheese.



The school has two dorms for the foreigners who stay there for language study or masters (there is a different campus for medical students), one of them is for the people who pay for their courses, and the other is mainly for those with scholarships. I got a scholarship from CSC so that was the building where I lived. There was a lot of construction work during the whole year on the dorm itself (when I arrived they could not even offer me a place to stay because they still did not finish the floors where we would have stayed. The rooms were of decent size, they mostly had double rooms with your own desk and a bed. I would not have any problems living there, I actually quite liked our room. The best part of it was that every room had a balcony that they walled in and turned it into a toilet and shower! This meant toilets with unbelievably amazing panorama!!!

Overall though, living there was chaotic... The worst thing about it was that the rules for living in the dorm got gradually worse (every month they came up with new rules). As a 25 years old person I could not stand to have my personal freedom taken away from me the way they did there... You could not exit or enter the building after midnight until 6 (even on weekends), you could not use as much electricity as you wanted, the kitchens were a mess, etc. The worst aspect of closing the doors at 12 is that many times people got drunk or loud indoors during the night because they were not allowed to go out... Eventually, me and a lot of my friends decided to move out of the dorm and rent apartments together. I would suggest doing this for everyone, they even gave us money for moving out, and there are lots of not too pricey apartments to rent around the campus. My life turned upside down after that, we were constantly together with our friends hanging out at our places, going out for drinks on weekends, we felt a lot closer to the real China than on campus. Oh and me and my friends had an apartment on the 31st floor of a building, I will never forget the view!



Hellish... I think if you go to China you will experience administrative hell one way or another anyways, but the school administration for foreigners was really abysmal here unfortunately. They had a new person responsible for administering and helping the foreigners, and while she was a very kind person, she had no idea how to solve our problems, and communication was really hard especially in the beginning as she only barely spoke English. there was also problems with not communicating anything in advance... It was common that she sent us wechat messages to come to her office in an hour, if you could not, it could have meant that you will not receive next month's scholarship. I really hope that this situation improved for the next year, but I also have my doubts sadly. Some of the biggest issues could be solved by a little bit of preparation: for registration with the authorities, they didnt arrange any groups, they just sent out a message to everyone to come at a set time to get on the bus that goes to the police. That meant that twice as many people showed up as there than was place for in the bus they brought, so we had to race with each other to get on the bus to go and register ourselves. Aaand they also sent back one of my papers that was really important for my registration to my country which meant, that by the time it was solved I was 2 days away from getting fined and kicked out of the country... Most of us had one or two similar stories sadly, which meant that all of us felt really neglected there sometimes. It had a surprising side-effect though, It created a really tight bond between us, and the exchangees helped each other out a lot, with whatever we could, and we made lots of jokes about the situations we got into.


Teaching Chinese:

With a very few exceptions all the teachers were very nice and helpful. They really tried their best to teach the groups they had, some of them had very nice presentations, highlights and taught us a lot in a s hort period of time. Of course, everything depends on how much you participate in the classes, and how much you study at home. At first, I really struggled, as there was a lot of new words for me to learn each week, but as I got a bit more experience with it, it became routine and I started to really enjoy studying there. We had homework, and essays to write, the exams were not too hard, although some of them were a bit weird (written exam for an oral practice class). Most of our classes were from 8 to 12, which meant we had our afternoons free. As something negative, I would have liked it if we could have chosen what we wanted to focus on, for example, I wish we had higher level courses focusing on grammar. All together I was really happy with most of the teaching materials, I could ask the teachers to help with any questions I had, and I enjoyed the classes. I was really satisfied with the teaching here.


Making friends:

Jiaoda is mainly an engineering and technical University. As such, I found that in general its quite hard to establish connections with Chinese people on the campus, while I had many friends in other Universities in China, who had an easy time making friendships with local students. I cannot know for sure, but I think the fact that this University is very highly ranked means that a lot of the people who study here are very competitive in their studies which means they have little free time, and many times my group felt that the students there did not possess good social skills, and are very closed towards foreigners (and each other as well...). Of course, they greet you and try to speak a sentence or two in English, but to create meaningful friendship on campus was impossible for me and all of my friends(The solution for us was of course to have a girl/boyfriend, or to make friends with people from outside the University). Something that maybe could have helped is to join some clubs on campus which I tried to do, but I did not keep going to them unfortunately. If I went back to China now, I would probably choose a Normal University, there the people are a lot more open minded and social from my experience.


The city:

I love Xi'an, its a great city with a huge history and lots of great places to visit and to hang out at. I especially loved the city wall on which you could bike around, and afterwards climb down to streets filled with pubs, bars, and hostels. It has a really cool Muslim district that cannot be visited enough times, and there are big pagodas, museums and Buddhist monasteries to visit. I really miss it! 

Except for the pollution... Xi'an suffers from pollution terribly, Its kind of in a basin so all the smog gets stuck in the city which means that especially during winter there can be pollution that makes you stay indoors (Christmas time there was 500 degrees on the air pollution index). Other than that I really recommend the city as I found it magical.


So as a conclusion I would like to stress that I loved my stay in China even during the hardest days of my year, and I would not give it away for anything in the world. Any experience is useful, and you can learn a lot if you put yourself under some hardcore culture shock. I think if you head to Xi'an Jiaoda with the things I wrote down as a reference, hopefully you will feel a lot less alone if you encounter some of the problems I mentioned, and if they improved on these issues, you could maybe even appreciate them for doing so, instead of taking it for granted (as I did with many things).



Edited by GarayGergo
Lots of grammatical errors, some additions etc.
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