I have been in China for about a month now and so far it has been an extraordinary experience, people are very friendly and the culture is completely different from the United Kingdom. There are so many people in Xiamen and the majority of the public drive mopeds and motorbikes because cars are too expensive, whereas in the United Kingdom people tend to drive cars more than any other vehicle.
Studying in China compared to England is more demanding; I have been having intensive lessons every day from 8:00am till 11:40am as well as homework. In addition to this, the work ethic of the Chinese is just unbelievable. Many of the students have night classes from 11:00pm-2:00am which is unheard of at universities in the United Kingdom. The work rate in China is really inspirational, even banks are open on the weekends.
Jimei University is like a mini island; there are lakes, palm trees, boats and many surrounding buildings. On this campus there is no excuse not to study because each school department has at least one library. There is more competition in China because of the high population of people compared to the United Kingdom.
In China I like the fact that I’m out of my comfort zone because it gives me the chance to improve my Mandarin Chinese speaking skills which I have been learning for the past nine years and there are only two other British students on my campus. Therefore, the only way to communicate with other students and the general public is by speaking Mandarin Chinese which encourages me to learn more so that I am able socialise with Chinese students, such as attending a sporting event on the main campus where I won a 100m sprint.
I’ve met many Chinese students who are teaching me more about the Chinese culture and language. I think that socialising with people is the best way to improve your Mandarin speaking skills because you can distinguish the differences of accents and language, which is really important in China as there are many dialects which are completely different from the Mandarin Chinese language.
I’m absolutely astonished at the amount of money you can save living in China! The price of food and drink is really cheap in contrast to the United Kingdom, for example I can buy a full course meal in China for less than £5, and at the corner shops it’s rare to find a drink that costs more than 50p, unless the drink is more than three litres!