Chinese Student’s Opportunities Overseas

In many ways, the Chinese education system is far superior to any other schooling system in the world. Chinese students work for longer hours in school each day in a space void of all distraction. The average day spans from 7:30 am to 5 pm with a two hour break for lunch. The school year also runs from September to July with a small summer break in between. Education is the number one priority above all other part of life that might normally emotionally interfere. One must then ask, why more and more Chinese students are choosing to study abroad in a foreign country far from their own every year?

The answer is that this choice to finish one’s education abroad is simply a solution to a very real problem in China. The Asian country currently stands with the highest population in the world with millions of children graduating from high school every year at the same time. The cruel truth is that, as worthy of a college education as many of these graduates are, there are simply not enough universities available to provide a suitable furthering of their education.

Gao Kao Testing

Gao Kao Testing

Chinese students are not only academically competitive as a result of the cultural pressure that many parents put on them, but also because they have to be the very best to be accepted into any Chinese university. Entrance into any of these universities is achieved by perfection in two areas. Similar to the United States, students are graded on their performance in the classroom in day-to-day activities. These grades are factored into the decision of whether to admit a student or not. They are, however, not as significant as the score a student receives on the Gao Kao. The Gao Kao is a college entrance test, somewhat similar to the United States’ ACT, but substantially more difficult, longer, and much more important. All students take the Gao Kao so naturally there is a huge amount of competition. According to Chinese students, it basically requires almost a perfect score of the Gao Kao, as well as exemplary marks in the classroom, to be admitted into a University. It also does not hurt to know someone in admissions at the University. From an American perspective, it would be about the same as getting a near perfect ACT score and a 4.0 grade point average. Many brilliant, hardworking Chinese students are denied entry to these schools every year.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/opinion/work-experience-vital-for-chinese-graduates-as-foreign-credentials-lose-their-lustre/story-e6frgcko-1226673357769?nk=4b46ed2f1d37a2cb353eee971d6369ab

Chinese students at American graduation

Studying abroad is one alternative to trying to gain acceptance into a university in China. As expensive as it might be, Chinese foreign exchange students can continue their education in a different country and find great success in it. According to Chinese students, this is a large reason why many of them start studying a language at an early age. This option to study abroad is the perfect solution to the problem of living in a highly populated country. Students can experience the world from a different perspective that they would not normally have finishing school in China. It is a very wise alternative.

Don’t Double Up On Dublin

Many of my fellow undergraduate classmates have studied abroad at least once in their time in college. This largely comes from the unprecedented ease at which we can travel, gain new cultural experiences, and explore different parts of the world. When it comes to our European travelers, however, I would recommend taking a closer look at a country that often simply gets brushed over: Ireland. Whenever students discuss visiting the Emerald Isle they usually say either that they did not have time or that they went to Dublin for a day. While this exposure to Ireland’s capital city is great, it is miniscule in comparison to the experiences that the rest of the country has to offer just a few hours west.

I will be the first to admit I am biased because I was never able to study abroad while in college. Most of the programs either ran at in opportune times or I could not support the trip financially. Despite this, my family did manage to save up for a ten day long trip to Ireland in August of my senior year. We still have family in Ireland and we wanted to meet them before they passed away. The five of us started in Dublin and drove across the country in a large circle visiting a multitude of cities and cites that normally go unvisited by students. There were so many fascinating places that I had never heard of from my fellow classmates. Since my visit, I have complied a list of “must see” places in Ireland that I would highly recommend to anyone visiting the country for the first time.

The first on the list would have to be the famous Cliffs of Moher on the western shores of county Clare. While these cliffs may be reached after an over three-hour long drive from Dublin, the view is definitely worth the wait. Visitors hike across the trails atop the cliffs looking out into the seemingly endless ocean far below them. On one point stands an ancient structure named “O’Brien tower”, which served as a lookout point for my ancestors who were natives of the area. The view from its base was unmatched by anything I had ever seen. It felt like I was looking off of the edge of the world.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher with O’Brien Tower (Right)

 

Another fantastic place to lose oneself for a few days is the little town of Kilarney in County Kerry. The city is located in the southwestern tip of Ireland in a valley surrounded by mountains. The landscape does not only serve as great scenery but also creates an atmosphere that the city is more peaceful and welcoming, being isolated from the rest of the world. Despite serving as a seemingly hidden gem, Kilarney has many old streets lined with historic little window shops, pubs and restaurant. The district was filled with these places that seemed to be much better preserved than the stores that lined the streets of Dublin. As a result of seeing fewer tourists, the local pubs seemed undeserved and carried an almost homely sort of feel that was not as present in any of the pubs I had visited previously. Kilarney’s preservation was a great representation of Irish culture.

Kilarney streets

Kilarney streets

 

Finally, the last place, that I would have to recommend to any future visitors of Ireland, is the city of Galway. For some reason the inter-coastal city is often over looked by visitors. It serves as a bay city on about the same latitude of Dublin but about a two hours car ride west. Galway’s district area resembles one similar to Kilarney’s save for the fact that it was much more crowded and the streets were much narrower. People gathered in the streets and seemed to be walking from pub to pub to watch the Galway hurling team play. The energy seemed to almost literally flow through the streets. Not only were the pubs a great atmosphere to be a part of but the seafood was probably the best I have ever had. The bay itself was covered in a variety of anchored watercraft ranging from large fishing boats to small sailboats. It painted a great picture of the town itself and supplied a wonderful view for a sunset.

Galway's less crowded outer bay

Galway’s less crowded outer bay

As much as I wish that I could have studied abroad and experienced more than simply one country, I did truly enjoy the very detailed view of Ireland I received in the experience. By going beyond the city limits of Dublin I was able to get a better understanding of Irish culture, far away from normal overwhelming tourist hotspots. It was truly a unique experience and I would challenge anyone studying abroad to look beyond the city of Dublin and lose himself or herself in the majesty that is the Irish countryside.

Error: Webpage Cannot Be Displayed in China

 

As our society develops it is becoming more and more evident that in today’s world there is system of communication that is connecting a grander scale of people than simply a mutually shared language ever could. The Internet has become the most powerful means of communication, connecting billions of people with different languages and cultures around the world. Information is being transferred from continent to continent instantaneously. It has become a form of its own universal language. In many of my Chinese culture classes I learned that China is a huge part of this demographic with 641,601,070 Internet users and counting. As a result of their restrictions on free speech, however, they are hindered. Ever since the Communist took control of China from the Nationalist party in 1949 they have held a tight grip on what their people can and cannot do. This control of human rights is a big factor for maintaining power in China. The truth is that some of these excessive efforts are warranted since the country has such a rich history of overthrowing their own government in order to make room for a new dynasty. Nevertheless, since the death of Mao Zedong and the transfer of power to Deng Xiaoping in 1978, China has arguably become socially more capitalistic and westernized. Even as China shifts into economically into more of a market economy, its government refuses to make these progressive changes socially.

The government censors movies, publications and most prominently the Internet. Any voice that could paint the government in a negative light is silenced. For example, the democratic movement in Tiananmen Square in 1989 is a point of contention between the Chinese government and the rest of the world. Thousands of people, mostly students, gathered in Tiananmen Square and, after many warnings to disperse from the Chinese government, they began to run over their own citizens with tanks and shoot at them. The interesting part about all of this is that many of the Chinese population still do not know the details of what happened to this day. In fact, when you use a Chinese Internet search engine it becomes pretty clear how much power that the government holds in censorship. I ran a search for Tiananmen Square in both the Chinese site Baidu as well as the popular international search engine Google. The results I received were pretty eye opening. Google revealed images of the protests and the military occupying the area in 1989. Pictures of tanks and crowds covered about every page. While the Google search revealed the painful event that took place in Tiananmen Square, Baidu had literally no trace of it anywhere. Whether it was the first or last page it had been removed completely from Chinese access. Apparently this is very common in China. The government fully controls what web pages are displayed and which ones are blocked from the public. Every site must comply with over sixty government regulations in order to be permitted. As difficult at this censorship is to maintain, the government does arrest Internet violators who act outside these cyber-restrictive guidelines.

Search for Tiananmen Square on Google

Search for Tiananmen Square on Google

Looking forward, it will be fascinating to see how the Chinese government deals with maintaining this limitation of free cyber speech in the future. More voices are finding a way to make themselves heard, in one way or another, online everyday. With so much of the world’s communication happening internationally on a keyboard the question remains: How much power will the Chinese government have to give up in order to maintain its position in the international spotlight among more socially democratic states?

Search for Tiananmen Square on Baidu

Search for Tiananmen Square on Baidu