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Foreign Students Stories

pic06Duiying Quan, SK Student in China, Studying at Peking University’s School of Journalism & Communication

After finishing my junior middle school back at home, I came to China for my further schooling in Qufu, Shandong — the hometown of Confucius, an ancient Chinese sage. In a fourth/fifth-tier town like this, there are not so much desired educational resources as in a big city, and I didn’t perform so well in my academic achievements, ranking approximately the fortieth in my class of over 70 students. However, I was the only one to be enrolled into the most prestigious institute of higher learning in China: Peking University.


Unlike my Chinese classmates, who had to sit for the grueling Chinese College Entrance Examination, I did the examination for overseas students, which covers four subjects: Proficiency of Chinese Language (PCL), Mathematics, English, and Comprehensive Liberal Art. Largely at the academic level for a grade 10-11 student, the PCL exam might be a children’s play

My Chinese language skill wasn’t so good. Sometimes, I could only get about half the full score in a 150-point exam. It was the same with my Comprehensive Liberal Art. Oppositely, I was more skilled at Mathematics and English, and could come back with more than 120 points in exams.for my Chinese classmates, however, it is really hard for an overseas student like me. Yet, you must pass the Chinese Language exam, as you would be able to learn nothing here in China if you are very poor in your Chinese Language.

After written exams came an interview. At that time, I applied for Peking University and Renmin University of China. I went first for an interview at Peking University. There were 5-6 applicants in a team waiting for a one-hour-long interview, and most topics during the interview were about the general situations of China and current events in this country. Luckily, soon after, I received my admission notice from the University, and later, was admitted to the School of Journalism & Communication based on my voluntariness and the University’s assignment mechanism.

To study at Chinese universities is cheaper than in South Korea. The tuition fee at Korean universities is typically equivalent to RMB 26,000 or so per semester. Despite being a self-funded student here, I only had to pay RMB 26,000 a year.

Yet, it seemed to me that the costs of accommodation at Chinese universities are a little bit higher. Here, price rates vary depending on housing conditions. It is roughly at RMB 130 per day for a single bed room, and RMB 80 per day for a chamber with 2 double rooms. I had once visited dormitories of my Chinese schoolmates. Generally speaking, their rooms were rather well-equipped except for an independent restroom.

Most SK students in China are self-funded ones. In fact, there are too many SK students here. Except for a few standouts in academic achievements, it is hard for them to win a scholarship from their universities.

To the best of my observation, it might be much easier to win scholarships and receive allowances for those from countries with smaller overseas student populations, and to a less degree, those along the BRI routes, regardless of their academic achievements.

In addition, I also came to know an interesting phenomenon: many examinees at the College Entrance Examination for Overseas Students are, in essence, Chinese students. They, including some foreign citizens of Chinese origin, grow up in China. They are, in fact, Chinese with foreign passports.


Luo Lin (Pseudonym), Chinese Canadian, Majoring in Computer Science & Technology at Nanjing University

I was born in China. When I was still at my primary school, I went to Canada along with my parents, and later became a Canadian. So, I can be said to be a foreigner of Chinese descent. Now, I am a junior student at Nanjing University, majoring in Computer Science & Technology. Since I am a Chinese by ethnicity, almost no my schoolmates can distinguish me from local students, and regard me as an overseas student.

It seems to me that studying in China is much cheaper than in Canada. The tuition for international students at this University is about RMB 23,000 a year, far less than the figure of around RMB 30,000 – 50,000 a year back at my home in Canada.

Besides, living expenses at Canadian universities, including rents, water/electricity fees, meals, buses and textbooks, come in at about RMB 2,000 – 5,000 per month. Tuition fees and living costs in the U.S., generally speaking, are the same as or a little lower than these in Canada.

In Nanjing University, student dormitories are rather good. A room for two students costs RMB 500 a month or so. Yet, they are in short supply, and are made available to only a limited number of lucky guys.

When it comes to courses, overseas students are not required to take in many courses, for example, English, Physical Education, Military Theory, Moral Education, Summary of Mao Zedong’s Theories, Policies & Current Situation, etc. There are also no military training and CET-4 or CET-6. But on the other hand, there are also many compulsory courses for overseas students, including Advanced Chinese, Overview of China and so on. They are also required to pass the HSK Tests. The graduation requirements for overseas students are similar to those for domestic students.

Many foreign students can only scrape through these courses for all the students. Even having completing their high school education in China, foreign students enrolled based on the CCEEOS are not the match for their Chinese peers in terms of learning achievements.

Teachers tend to treat all the students, regardless of their nationality, in the same way in almost all aspects, such as attendance rate, assignments, academic papers and exams. For example, if you score 58 points in an exam, the teacher won’t lower the criteria, and let you pass the exam just because of you being a foreign student. It doesn’t work to appeal to good relationships with teachers. Such a case reportedly occurred with a SK student. Not being a Chinese language major, he failed in all the exams in the first semester.


Hafeez,Maldivian Student in China, Majoring in Law at Renmin University of China


I came to study at Renmin University of China in September 2016, majoring in law, and already graduated last month with a master’s degree.

At that time, China and the Maldives launched a cooperation project, where China offered scholarships to Maldivian students to finance their study in China, and the Maldivian government was responsible for sending the most outstanding applicants to China based on their academic results. I was one of the lucky applicants to be sent here.

Being a government-funded student, I have no idea of exact expenses for my study in China. I lived on the ground floor of the Foreign Students’ Dormitory, and shared a room with a roommate. There is an independent bathroom and an air conditioner in each room, and a washing machine on each floor.

But, in fact, I wanted to have a single room, which would make me more comfortable. Especially, I wanted to have my own bathroom. My former classmates studied at Peking University, and they all had single rooms for themselves.

I have a lot of Chinese friends, but I have never been to their dormitories. I heard that four students shared one room there. I thought it would be really uncomfortable for them.

I had a pleasant life in China. I majored in law, so I was very busy at the time. But I could always be able to make the time for various activities, and I enjoyed playing football. I didn’t like to go horsing around or window shopping. I preferred to do physical activities on the campus. On average, I spent about RMB 3,000 on food a month. There were almost no other expenses for me except for the mentioned-above items.


I came to realize that China is really a large country in almost every aspect. It would take you a lot of time to go from one end of it to another. Unlike China, the Maldives is an island country. Within just about five minutes, you can get anywhere on the island. It is all encircled by the white waters.

I had already been engaged before I came here in China. After graduation, I returned to my country, and worked as a legal professional at a local police department. Now, I have a son, and live a quiet life. Everything is going very well for me.

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