Inès Aras (ESME Sudria Class of 2018) spent her semester abroad at the Beijing Institute of Technology. Read all about her journey here.
11 of the 20 students from the ESME Sudria Class of 2018 who traveled to Beijing (Lianxiang Campus)
Photo credit: Inès Aras
“Since I had already had the chance to visit America during my free time, I decided after a few weeks’ reflection to set my sights on Asia, and more specifically China, for my 3rd year semester abroad. It was a new continent for me with an extremely different culture, one that would provide me with the opportunity both to learn Mandarin and improve my English. I was also (and especially) attracted to this land of superlatives and its incredible population growth (which has made Chinese one of the most spoken languages today), its new standing as the second global superpower, its nickname of “the world’s factory” because of its status as the world’s leading exporter, and its army, currently the largest of any country on the planet.
The Great Wall at Badaling
I finally settled on Beijing, the capital. On February 25, 2016, I embarked – along with around twenty other ESME Sudria students – on the trip of a lifetime. Upon arriving, we made our way to the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT). Established in 1940 and home to more than 26,000 students annually, this public university specializes in science and technology but also boasts management and social studies departments. And we were not the only foreigners there: students from all over the world came to take classes as part of their B.S. or dual Master’s programs.
The Forbidden City
From left to right: a street food vendor in Beijing, a typical local dish, and the Great Wall of China
BIT has three campuses, two of which are in Beijing: Zhonguancun, in the downtown area, where the bulk of our courses were held, and a brand new campus in Lianxiang in the suburbs of Beijing, about an hour and a half from downtown by public transportation. Many of the students were housed on this new campus. During the first half of the semester, we had classes in C programming, data communication and networking, principles of data communication, and Chinese (which was optional). The second half included courses in communication and networking, semiconductors, and again Chinese. We had midterms and final exams in every subject. All the courses were taught in English by Chinese professors, who spoke the language fluently. Sometimes we were required to work in groups, such as in the C programming class, where we had one month to create a video game using the C programming language, each of us working in a group made up entirely of Chinese students.
Pollution in Beijing at the Olympic Stadium
In addition to my coursework and a feel for life at the university, I was left with amazing memories of my trip to China. It’s an extraordinary country that promises a good dose of culture shock and eccentricity. Although it was too short (it always is!), the semester provided me with a first impression of Chinese culture and the wonderful sites to visit. Chinese holidays allowed me to spend long weekends visiting just a small fraction of the country.
Two sides of Beijing
I am convinced a semester abroad is highly beneficial for students: the experience is immensely enriching, and serves you well into the future. You learn a real sense of personal responsibility, which arises from daily tasks such as filing paperwork or tidying up, organizing your schedule, establishing new contacts, etc. I learned a great deal about myself as well as others, and that helped me understand what I really want to accomplish in life. Exchange, conviviality, and open-mindedness are the three words I’d use to describe this experience. I have only one suggestion for future ESME students: dare to travel…and say yes to China!”