As you may know from reading our blog or from your familiarity with the trends of international students applying to universities in the United States, it’s China, China, China. Yes, and India. Indeed the fastest-growing group of international applicants to universities in the United States is the Chinese. According to a “New York Times” article by Dan Levin on Chinese students at US universities, “In 2008-9, more than 26,000 were studying in the United States, up from about 8,000 eight years earlier, according to the Institute of International Education.”
But what is it like for these Chinese students once they get to the United States to begin their university studies? Is there a culture shock? In short, yes. As the article on Chinese students at American colleges points out, many Chinese students have a difficult time adjusting to the social atmosphere…one that often includes quite a bit of drinking. They also often have time learning the English language. What they learned as the proper pronunciation of a word in China doesn’t necessarily fly when their professor hails from Mississippi! Plus, learning a language in a classroom is a far cry from leading your life in that language, from conducting all of your daily affairs in that foreign language.
It’s worth mentioning the literature on ethnic identity formation as well. For Chinese students studying at universities in the United States, it’s often the first time in their lives when they’ve truly felt like minorities. This isn’t the case necessarily for Chinese American students as they’ve grown up in America where the vast majority of people aren’t Asian. So what’s it like to go through ethnic identity formation during one’s university years? In the coming months, we’ll be hearing from Chinese students as they adjust to life at American universities. We hope you enjoy the series.