Growing number of foreigners discover friendly, helpful life on campus

By Yan Yiqi(China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-28

Growing number of foreigners discover friendly, helpful life on campus

A group of foreign students watch competitors during a sports event on campus this year. Provided to China Daily

As president of the International Students Union, Nindba Kenneth said organizing activities at Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics makes him happy.

"The foreign students here are like a family. We love throwing parties to welcome new foreign students and celebrate festivals together," he said.

Kenneth, a Nigerian, is thinking about an end-of-year party, including universal activities such as dancing, singing and playing games, but also Chinese-style specialties, like learning to make dumplings and performing traditional Chinese operas.

Kenneth said foreign students love the atmosphere at the university.

"For us, studying in a friendly environment is much more important than other elements," he said.

He came to the university to learn about China's advanced economic and financial systems so that he can apply the ideas in his home country.

"My future career plan is to be a policymaker in Nigeria, so I am considering learning as much as I can to implement the Chinese economic system back in Africa," he said.

As a part of its globalization plan, the university established a school of international education in 2013 to recruit foreign students. The past two years saw more than 400 students from other countries enroll at the school, which provides them with degree programs and Chinese language courses - nondegree programs that last for one semester or longer.

The degree programs cover courses on international trade and finance.

"As a finance and economics university, we aim to equip foreign students with professional knowledge and also Chinese language," said Chen Genfang, Party chief at the university.

Ronen Froym used to study Chinese medicine in Israel. To better understand the essentials, he decided to come to China to learn the language. The 45-year-old also brought his Vietnamese wife, Dao Thi Hong Hanh, with him.

Dao studies English and literature at the university, and hopes to become a Chinese teacher in Vietnam.

"Hangzhou is like a city of love to us. We hope we can also bring the right picture about Chinese culture back to our countries," she said.

Diadie Sacko from Mali still remembers when he first came to the school in 2013 when there were only a few foreign students like him.

"At that time, everything was difficult for me, including the language problem and culture shock," said the 26-year-old. "Now I am glad that our university has hundreds of foreign students. There are also five students from my own country."

Sacko, now in his first year of a master's program in international trade, said he plans to establish an international trading company to do business between the Chinese and Mali markets.

"Mali imports 8 percent of its goods from China, and I think the business has great potential," he said. "I am going to graduate in a year and a half, and I plan to sell Chinese clothes and shoes in Mali."

For some other foreign students, the university is also a place where they can wrap themselves up in job hunting markets back in their home countries.

Yelekova Kolganat is a 19-year-old sophomore from Kazakhstan. She is a student of the department of international trade and economics, which teaches all lessons in Chinese. She said she plans to get a job back in Kazakhstan in a Chinese company after graduation.

Although she has been studying at the university for no more than a year and a half, Kolganat speaks fluent Chinese.

"In our country, having a diploma from a Chinese university adds a lot of points when applying for jobs," she said.