At the end of August 2016, the most exciting journey of my life began for me. I studied and lived for a semester in Suzhou, on the east coast of China. By the time it was time to leave, I had a lot of preparations behind me. It all started in early April 2016 when I contacted answerresume. I had looked on the website for master’s exchange places in China and came across Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University, where only English is spoken. Tanja was my nice contact person, with whom I stayed during the entire application process was in lively e-mail and telephone contact. After I had sent my application documents such as university certificate and TOEFL test, she forwarded the courses offered to me and, after my choice of course, advocated that I could also take a 4th year bachelor’s course in China. Normally, the university does not provide for this, but you should choose all courses from one degree program. I was lucky that the XJTLU made an exception, which I now almost all the credits for the semester count be.
After the course was selected and confirmed by the university, the organization of the student visa for China continued. Tanja from MicroEDU gave me important information about where to apply for a visa and what type of visa I need. The processing time is two weeks, so you should take care of it early on. It is also advisable to book the flight only after receiving the visa. You don’t have to worry about looking for accommodation on site, because the students of the XJTLU all live within walking distance of the campus in large dormitories and international students have their own dormitory, in which a room has been reserved for me through MicroEDU. The individual apartments are shared by either four or six international students and are gender-segregated. The rooms are relatively small, but clean and each have their own small bathroom and the lounge with kitchen is spacious. Tuition fees and rent are paid through an on-site agency that MicroEDU works with. Although everything has been transferred in advance, you should take a larger amount of yuan with you to China in cash, as the deposit for the dormitory is required in cash on the day of arrival. From my own experience, I also recommend one before leaving for China to set up a VPN connection on mobile phone and PC, because once you are on site, this is no longer possible or only very difficult and you still want to keep in touch with the western world and use your usual social media channels from time to time.
At the XJTLU I took courses from the M. Sc. Business Analytics, although I am doing my Masters in Marketing in Münster. Since I mainly took the elective modules in China and some of them lead to the M. Sc. If international management overlapped, I was still able to take subjects that fit into my course of study. So I took z. B. Social Media Marketing (MAN426), Strategic Business Analysis (MAN411), International Marketing (MAN305) and Ethical Issues in Business Analytics (MAN441). Chinese and international students take all courses together, in some courses I even had only Chinese fellow students. You also have the option of taking a Chinese course on a voluntary basisto prove. You don’t get very far in one semester, especially if you don’t put in a certain amount of extra effort in your free time. However, I would still recommend taking the course, because on the one hand it is very useful for everyday situations and on the other hand the Chinese teachers are very personable, funny and committed. Together with the other international students, we always had a lot of fun in the lectures. At the end there was an exam in Chinese-character writing and a dialogue in Chinese in order to receive a certificate of participation in the course.
Of course, China has a lot to offer in terms of leisure and excursion opportunities. Even if the university and dormitory are outside the city center of Suzhou (approx. 35 minutes by bus or subway), it is definitely worth visiting Suzhou’s sights. Pingjiang Road z. B. is a great Chinese street in the old town, right next to one of the many canals. So is Shantang Street. Those who like to go shopping can let off steam in Guanqian Street and some peace and quiet and old Chinese culture can be found in the beautiful gardens such as Lingering Garden or Tiger Hill. Suzhou is – and rightly so in my opinion – not very well known for its nightlife. Instead Shanghai but all the more! That is why it is always worth taking the 40-minute train ride for the equivalent of around 5 EUR on the weekend. Shanghai has z. For example the M1NT Club, where an aquarium full of sharks runs from the entrance to the dance floor. Or you can take the train from Suzhou to Beijing in five and a half hours, which is the fastest and often cheapest option for the almost 1,200 km long route. I personally found Beijing fascinating, especially the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China. If you want to change your visa on site with the help of the International Office of the XJTLU from X2 (single entry) to X1 (multiple entry), you should n’t miss out on Hong Kong or South Korea.
All in all, the time in China was an unforgettable experience that helped me further personally. Culturally, you have to be open to accepting differences and finding your way in a country where you don’t speak the language and most of the people can’t speak English either. It was sometimes exhausting, but there were also many funny situations in which you could only get through with your hands and feet. China is fascinatingly different and definitely worth a trip!