My experience at Tsinghua University

One of the big attractions about DTU are all the additional activities that run along your studies. One such example is the option to go abroad for one semester to another university. Being already abroad studying in Denmark, some people thought this might seem like a bizarre choice but a semester exchange is so much different and offers a lot more than the normal degree semesters.

DTU students are lucky to be able to go on exchange semesters all over the world in many interesting cities and great universities. The International Affairs at DTU also make the whole application process very straight forward. I went to Beijing, to study at Tsinghua University – the top ranked Chinese mainland university and one of the best universities in the world.

Mainland China is a quite different exchange experience compared to the usual ones in US and Australia. I wanted to go somewhere that I would have a completely different culture and study experience. I had been looking at different East Asian universities but a friend persuaded me that mainland China was the place to go. She was not wrong.

It was the perfect exchange experience. I found myself completely immersed in the culture from the moment I landed. At first this was actually very difficult and distressing. In Beijing, very few people can speak any English even in the universities. Their organization and systems are different in ways you would not expect meaning that it is very easy to make mistakes or mess things up. It is also important to remember that China is one of the world’s fastest developing countries and so not too long ago it was an under developed country which was quite isolated from the rest of the world in many ways. While I was there, my expectations of how things should be or how they should be done was completely changed. I considered myself a pretty brave and open minded person but without a doubt within two weeks of living in China I was suffering from culture shock.

However, I was not alone. Beijing is full of other exchange students all experience the same thing as me. All foreigners in China are very friendly and helpful to each other, possibly because we are all going through the same thing. I met some very great characters from all over the world and even some from DTU who I had not known before. The Chinese students are a little harder to be friends with because the study pressure on them is very high. When they have the time though, the local students are very happy to show foreigners around the sights and to share cultural holidays with them.

The common feeling is that once you get over the initial culture shock, China is a fantastic country to an exchange student in. The people are very friendly and welcoming; the cost of living is very reasonable and differences in culture offers incomparable experiences. I cannot recommend China and Beijing enough to anyone brave enough to try it.

Sam, MSc Eng in Design and Innovation, UK