Was it the right decision to study in China? YES!
It is a big decision to take the plunge and study in China, but the gain is even bigger. Meet Imran who studies MSc in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering.
By: Lonnie Høgh
Is the academic level too high? Will it be difficult to get Chinese friends? What will it be like to live in another culture for two years? The questions were many, when 24-year-old Imran Khan in the summer of 2013 for the first time considered to study his Master’s degree at SDC in Beijing.
”It was a crucial point that the programme took place in China. In the engineering world you often hear about China, first of all because of the excellent professional skills, secondly because of the booming industry. It was an obvious opportunity to learn a lot, strengthen my resume and develop my academic skills in an international environment,” says Imran, who holds a Bachelor in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from Technical University of Denmark.
Two weeks before departure he found out that he would be the only Dane in the class, and the doubt came back in a big way. What would it be like to be the only Dane in a class of Chinese students in the middle of Beijing?
High academic level and many study hours
Today Imran has almost finished the first year, and he has not regretted once.
The language barrier never became a problem, as the Chinese students spoke proper English. The academic level was even higher than Imran had expected, and he spends many hours studying each week – also during the weekends. But he experiences no competition among the students. Everybody help each other to succeed in the studies.
”It turned out to be a great advantage for me to be the only Danish student in class. From day one I had to do an effort to get to know the Chinese students. It would have been easier to stick to the Danish students, but during classes it was not an option,” says Imran, and today he reaps the benefits of the challenging beginning.
Several times during the week he spends time with his fellow Chinese students and go to the gym, play basketball or just hang out in the parks. The Chinese are constantly introducing Imran to new places and activities, and it is not unlikely that his Chinese friends bring home traditional snacks for him when they have visited their hometowns. Imran has tried to do the same, but the Danish chocolate and liquorice have ended up as ‘rewards’ for the last place when they play UNO.
Shared apartment is a free space
Imran spends a lot of time at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, where SDC is located, and once in a while he is longing after the possibility of self-study as he knows it from Denmark. Therefore he enjoys sharing an apartment with three SDC students and having the opportunity to relax. When everything around you is different from back home, it is nice to have a free space with people you share background and interests with. Almost every weekend he and some of the other Danish students travel or go out to see new places.
Imran believes that they also have a special relationship to the Danish teachers.
”It is very different from what I know in Denmark. The teaching is very personal, and we get the impression that the teachers have plenty of time, which means that they for instance stay in the class during assignment work. We also always invite the teacher of a new course out for dinner or a drink in advance of the course,” says Imran.
The relationship to the Chinese teachers is a little different, as they show up, give a presentation and leave the class immediately after the lesson. The culture is different, and they do not prepare the ground for drawn-out discussions or joint dinners.
Imran also see a clear difference between the Danish and the Chinese students. They each have different strengths and therefore they supplement each other very well.
”The Chinese students are really good at math, natural science and technical calculations. On the other hand my strengths are to analyse and write reports,” he says.
Summer University in Denmark
This summer he will have the opportunity to teach the Chinese students how it is like to study in Denmark, as the class will arrive in Denmark to participate in DTU Chemical Engineering Summer University. Among other things they will compete in the Green Challenge competition at DTU, and Imran has planned a two-week tour in Denmark and Sweden for the class.
Imran expects to get inspiration to his Master’s thesis during the summer in Denmark. In the end he hopes the thesis can help him get his foot in the door at some of the international engineering companies operating in China.
Imran: Three pieces of advice
1. Are you thinking about studying in China? Forget your second thoughts and do it!
2. Do not be afraid that the academic level is too high. You will be extremely well welcomed by the other students, and you will soon get used to it.
3. Be open-minded. Danish and Chinese teaching methods are very different.
Source - Institute of Kemiteknik