Life abroad isn’t always as easy as it seems, especially travelling away as far as China. Having to leave behind family and friends and a familiar environment can be somewhat hard. And on the other hand, it can be exciting too, filled with the promise of experiencing new people, new places, and learning new ways of life. In many aspects, one’s life’s view and worldview are changed forever by that experience.
Recently, we chatted with Anthonia Nlebedum about her study life in China as a masters student. She described the difference in study experience in Universities in Nigeria and in the University she studied in China and how she adjusted to a new culture.
What were the differences you noticed in the teaching methods in Universities in China?
As a student in Nigeria, you are taught to never question your teacher, while in Universities abroad you are encouraged to ask questions and disagree with topics that don’t align with your beliefs and actually have a sit down with your lecturer and argue it out with facts. In Nigeria, lecturers do not look kindly on students who disagree with them.
What would you say about the lecturer-student relationship in China and how the University management relates with students?
Very cordial and professional. Teachers relate to student better abroad because they are not feared, they are friends with students without crossing the line, and this makes it easier for students to feel more comfortable to ask questions about things they don’t understand in class and the teacher also gets to know the student beyond the classroom.
What’s the most shocking culture shock experience you witnessed as a student in China?
Hanging out and even partying with teachers without any sexual harassment or any form of disrespect, and everyone returns back to class the next day like it’s nothing. Could never happen in Nigeria, lecturers always want to take advantage of students at the slightest bit of kindness.
Is there any funny experience you’d like to share?
I had never used a laptop before in Nigeria even though I’m a university graduate. So my first day in class I was assigned a seminar topic alongside everyone else in the class. I was to do the research and prepare my findings in PowerPoint and present in class. I almost shit myself. But then, I wasn’t scared and embarrassed to ask for help. And thankfully I’m a fast learner so I used google to learn how to do it and in four days I was standing in front of the class presenting my first work, it wasn’t perfect but it was a good start. And by the end of the semester, i had already presented 4 times and one of my work was used to teach the next class.
Any advice for Nigerians who want to study in China?
Be aware of everything around you and go with the flow, if you want to make it through you have to learn to adapt fast without any help, also make google your best friend it will save you from a lot of embarrassment.
How would you describe the hospitality of Chinese to immigrants, especially Africans?
They are very welcoming, but mostly if you can understand their language because they don’t speak or understand even the slightest gesture in English. They are curious so they ask a lot of questions about your origin and culture.
Are there specific things to look out for when applying for scholarships in China
You have to find a suitable environment that suits your style, for instance, the north is colder than the west and the east is mostly surrounded by traditional building and a lot of cultural lifestyles but nevertheless beautiful. The west is more exposed and full of people from around the world so it’s easier to meet someone you know there. But it always comes down to which school suits your study plan.
How is the Nigerian community in China?
Nigerians in China are one of the most united groups, we have an association called ANSIC, Associations of Nigerian Students in China, they are on hand to assist any Nigerian in trouble with school or law enforcement. Apart from that, each city also has a lot of Nigerian residents so you all definitely meet a Nigerian sooner, and other Africans too. They tend to get along well like a family so you will definitely make friends faster except you don’t want to.
So, did you learn mandarin here in Nigeria before you travelled?
No, I didn’t. As usual, with the Nigerian way of doing things, i wasn’t prepared for anything, we had to learn from scratch with the assistance of people already there. I took mandarin classes alongside my study class and it helped strengthen my mandarin but you only get better once you start engaging the locals. I learnt more from locals than i did in class, so I’ll advise anyone hoping to learn to go out more; go shopping, partying, tea shops, and brunch picnics with locals who are fluent and pay attention to how they pronounce words then pick things up. You will learn faster than just sitting in class.
Life as a student can be without stress, and you should experience this. Speak with an International Education Counsellor here to help you with your plans and budget for international education.