African Students studying in China - YI Sun

Yi Sun spent several months in the summer of 2017 doing field research at the Zhejiang Normal University and visiting several cities near the university. Her research focuses on the experiences of African students studying in China and its potential to influence their economic activity when they return home. 


During the summer she interviewed African students from various African countries who are currently pursuing advanced degrees in China, as well as talking to some local Chinese people and listening to their views and attitudes about hosting students from Africa. Her research looks at human resource development and flows in a time of unprecedented globalization, and in a South-South, tertiary educational context.


She found that most of the conversations were around topics related to their study, life, money, future plans and challenges, for example, language barriers, scholarship policies, cultural understanding, expectation and difficulties, jobs and other experiences. There were also many conversations about how their experiences changed their perceptions toward both Chinese society and even the whole world. Many students want to practice their business skills in China, and Yiwu market (left) located about 20 minutes away from the university campus provided such an opportunity.


A few sample comments from African students are below.


A female student from Tanzania said “I was thinking since China has been growing really fast compared to some other countries, I was thinking of studying another year in China, so I can learn the Chinese language, and make myself more marketable.”


A male student from Burundi answered “Compared to Africa, China is the best; that's why we are here. But compared to some African countries, life in China is expensive, which means you go there your school fees are higher. It is hard to find a job though because of the visa policy.”


A female student from Cameroon said “From an outsider of China, this country is growing so fast, the economy is really fast and lots of things come here, especially in business. So I thought that yeah I can go to school, and maybe if other chances here I can do internship…”


Yi Sun says “What I learned from my experiences this summer was that many African students showed high tolerance for many things that happened to them in China, including social views, educational system, life style and so on."