me and my bike
Me and my bike.

My first bike

Ni hao everyone! This is Lauren from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. What is life like at Chinese university, you ask? For a foreigner living in Beijing each day is filled with challenges, the occasional cultural miscommunication, and lots of funny moments.

Firstly, let’s start by getting to class. This is an adventure in itself! At Tsinghua, a bike it pretty much required if you want to get from point A to point B.

To be honest, I never thought I would be a bike owner in China. In fact, I was quite against the idea (If you’ve ever driven in a taxi in Beijing, you would understand why- the drivers here can be pretty aggressive!) until I spent a few days on Tsinghua’s campus. This place is HUGE! So big, in fact, that just to get from my dormitory to the journalism building takes at least 10 minutes by bike.

After much debate and constant reassurance by my bike-riding friends, I gave in and decided to buy a beautiful pink bike. I have had a blast riding around campus and exploring the Beijing streets on my new ride. However, with many bikes comes many bike traffic jams on campus. If you want to get to class on time, you better leave a half hour early in order to miss the congested Tsinghua roads.

Professor Fan Hong
Professor Fan Hong, my Corporate Communications professor, giving a lecture in both English and Chinese.

What is class like at a Chinese university?

Although all of my Master’s classes are taught in English, the professors frequently pepper lectures with mini Chinese lessons since many students in the class are native Chinese language speakers. It really provides such a unique learning experience.

As a Chinese language-learner myself, I am able to study the language as well as learn more about business journalism. Although it is very challenging, I really love that the professors do this. I am learning so much.

Another wonderful part of class is getting to discuss subjects with such a diverse group of classmates. In my global business journalism program, I have classmates from countries all over the world including Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Nepal, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Poland, France, among others. Discussions are always interesting and enlightening with students with such different backgrounds and life experiences.

Lunch time

A typical lunch at Tsinghua canteen
A typical lunch at a Tsinghua University canteen (牛肉面- beef noodles).

After morning class, it’s time for lunch at one of Tsinghua’s many canteens on campus. If you’re looking for a unique Chinese experience, this is the place to go.

At first, the canteens can be extremely overwhelming and intimidating for foreign students because there are lots of people, lots of food options, and lots of lines everywhere. However, all the chaos is definitely worth the delicious food here! Whether it’s rice, noodles, or dumplings, you really can’t go wrong.

What is the biggest challenge for foreign students in Chinese canteens? Chopsticks! After some practice, however, using chopsticks becomes a part of daily life. I think I’ve forgotten how to use a fork!

Library adventures

Now it’s time to hit the library to get some studying done. In the United States, you walk around a library until you can find an open seat and sit down. I learned the hard way, however, that things work a little differently here in China.

At Tsinghua, they have an advanced computer system that requires you to scan your ID card in order to reserve a desk. You can imagine my surprise on my first trip to the library when I received a tap on the shoulder and a polite explanation that I was occupying a student’s reserved seat. Oops! Luckily, the student was extremely nice, took me to the computer system and explained how to use it. As always, I continue to be blown away by the tremendous kindness I have received from my fellow students here at Tsinghua.

That’s the end of the school day here at Tsinghua University. Thank you for spending the day with me!

About the Author – Lauren Kyger

A day in the life at Tsinghua university 1

Lauren Kyger is a current Hinrich Global Trade Scholar from United State of America. She is a Master’s student at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China studying Global Business Journalism. She is an avid sport fan, business news nerd, Chinese language nut, travel fanatic, and mac n’ cheese enthusiast.