Not Quite Fluent

Borderless #2: Perspective Students

I talked to my friend Daisy, a Chinese student working on her application to study here. She gave me some great insights into what Chinese education looks like, and I filled in some of the gaps for us Americans.

How is the American education system different from Chinese school?
“America: a lot of group works, less homework, and the school’s over earlier.”
Pretty standard in America is the seven hour school day, typically spanning somewhere from eight to three. But in China, school days can be ten hours long, with five hours of homework a night. Daisy told us that after all that, she still had to practice piano for an hour or two. To me, that sounds like a lack of sleep. But to her and other Chinese students, it’s an invitation to work up to your potential every day. Even as a decent math student, I couldn’t help but be humbled as I sat next to Daisy, who was hard at work doing calculus…in Chinese.

What did you like about America and what did you dislike?
“Like: the pop songs´╝îthe leisurely lives. Dislike: It’s very dry here.”
The leisurely lives part here once again echoes back to our different types of school. But what was really interesting to see was the widespread influence of American pop music in China. Driving to school each morning, I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that Daisy knew every word to every song on the radio. Songs from Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, and Selena Gomez topped the charts in China, too.

How do Chinese people view Americans? What do they think about America?
“They are happier than us because most of them don’t have to work or study very hard and the good welfare benefits. I think Americans are very warm and hospitable. The internet tells me they are very straightforward. But the Chinese’s thoughts are very complicated. Just like a curve.”

How was the United States capital, Washington, D.C., different than the capital of China?
“The roads are wider and there are less people in the streets. I saw a lot of Chinese visitors, but just a little local people.The architectures are more classical. There are a lot of people in Beijing , it’s crowded and noisy almost everywhere and the heavy congestion like Shanghai.”
We live out in the suburbs, so we decided to take Daisy for a trip downtown to see the art museum. Living in the relatively large city of Cincinnati, Daisy’s underwhelmed response to the traffic and population made me laugh. While we think our highways are bad, Shanghai’s traffic and population are a whole other beast. Daisy often remarked that there was nobody in America, and that there were hardly any buildings either.

How was the environment and nature different?
“The air is fresher and there are a lot of animals near houses. In China,we only can see deer in the zoo.”
Squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and even domestic pets were a huge surprise to Daisy. I learned in this process that many Chinese people are afraid of domestic pets, never having had one. Daisy and a few of her friends were no exception.

Would you ever consider being a student here? Why or why not?
“I will.Because I like English very much and I think some of the universities there are better.”
Even though they are coming to study during high school, the majority of international students study here for one goal: improving their English to get into an American University. A lot of times Americans take for granted the variety of types of colleges available for them. But the reality is that the American university experience is so unique and priceless that many students want to come and study here as soon as possible.

Sydney Sauer • March 20, 2016


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