Being a foreign student and doing a degree in Chinese language is not an easy thing. However, Southeast University is proud to have many outstanding foreign students who are successful at what they do.
Today we interviewed Basil, who is 25 years old and comes from Jordan. Basil has spent almost seven years in China, last year he successfully accomplished his bachelor degree in architecture in Southeast University and currently he is enrolled in Master program of architecture with focus on light structure.
What motivated you to go study in China?
I had two options where to study my degree –America or China. Since my father has been to China before, and I was also amazed by the country’s huge and rich history, I was highly interested in China and its culture. Besides, we have heard a lot about the Chinese dream, and the way the country had a rapid development within 50 years is very astonishing. Therefore, we believe that China can be the future of this world. Moreover, in our culture we have a prophet saying “Seek knowledge even upon China”, which encourages people of my culture to learn useful knowledge from China, emphasizing how important is the Chinese culture to the world and how much we can learn from it. Thus, I chose China, because I believe that the future is here, because it is the land of opportunities and is a great place for a start.
Why did your choice fall on the Southeast University?
Architecture was always my dream, when I was little I loved to look at the buildings and draw them. So I started to look for the best architecture school in China. Southeast University is one of the top universities in the architecture field, therefore I decided to visit Nanjing city. I really liked Nanjing because it is a small, cozy and not very crowded city, which is very good for living. And when I came to the campus of SEU and saw the amazing old-style buildings it was like a love from the first sight. On top of that, the way I was treated in the international students office and the life-style of the local students really made it clear for me that I want to study in Southeast.
Did you encounter any challenges while studying? If yes, how did you manage to overcome it?
Culture was one of the biggest challenges for me. Chinese students gave me a lot of pressure, because they work and study really hard and you constantly must keep up with their level. If you don’t catch up with your Chinese classmates’ level it becomes incredibly difficult. At first, I had to study extremely hard for about 8-10 hours a day for two years, doing almost nothing except learning Chinese. I surrounded myself with a lot of Chinese friends, because I wanted to see China in the Chinese people. What helped me to get adjusted? The way Chinese students spend whole time in libraries on their books studying and learning – the young scholars working hard in order to prove their culture in the world. This fact gave me a strong incentive not just to work hard, but to work smart by adjusting myself to the local culture.
Can you share you academic and non-academic experience in Southeast University?
As I said, first years were very hard because of the language, culture and because I didn’t have any background in architecture. Once I gained some knowledge and learned how to design and manage my time, things became easier. Especially, I liked the design classes because drawing helped me to relax my mind. It seemed to me, that through art you can find a kind of inner peace.
Besides studying, I really enjoy sport activities. When I was eight, I started to do Taekwondo. Currently I have black belt 4th Dan. When I came to Southeast, I found a small Taekwondo association. I wanted to make friends and sport was the best way to do it. I shared my own hobby and I represented the university in various competitions. From six competitions in China I’ve got 5 gold medals and 1 silver medal. The silver medal I got was from the competition among all the universities in China.
What would you recommend to other foreign students willing to come to China?
I believe, that you should go through three steps. First, you must learn the language. You have to read and write a lot, and, of course, practice. I wouldn’t recommend to go on the streets and start talking right away. At first, I believe you must practice your listening and other skills. Not only you should read books, but also listen to the local music, movies, shows and performances. But don’t think if you learned the language and you speak it very well, you can easily enter the community. This takes us to the second step – the culture. You must understand the special characteristics of the local culture, because it will allow you to get easier understanding about the way thing go in China. Third, you must prove yourself in this culture and environment.
Besides that, I think that the biggest problem of foreign students in China is not setting a goal. You must set yourself a goal with a time-limit – what do you want to achieve within one month, within half a year, etc.?
How does education in China and in Southeast University fit in your career and life perspectives?
I came to China with a hope, and now I have a dream. My hope was to study architecture and to have a knowledge which will serve as a fundament. Within these seven years in China I realized that hope is not enough and I learned how to dream and how to make my dreams come true. My dream is to have a group of companies which is concentrated on the outstanding service that can make people’s life easier.
I believe that Southeast University will give me a direction in my life and a start point in my career. Everything great in China starts from universities and its scholars. Southeast university has a long history and has contributed to the development of the country throughout its whole history. But what I see about Southeast University, is not only its history, but also that it is a future. And I want to be a part of this successful future.