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Dreaming & Forwarding—— An Architecture student in SEU

Being a foreign student and doing a degree in Chinese language is not an easy thing. However,Southeast University is proud to have many outstanding foreign students who aresuccessful at what they do. 

Today we interviewed Basil, who is 25 years old and comes fromJordan. Basil has spent almost seven years in China, last year he successfullyaccomplished his bachelor degree in architecture in Southeast University andcurrently he is enrolled in Master program of architecture with focus on lightstructure.

1. What motivated you to go study in China?

I had two options where to study my degree –America or China. Sincemy father has been to China before, and I was also amazed by the country’s hugeand rich history, I was highly interested in China and its culture. Besides, wehave heard a lot about the Chinese dream, and the way the country had a rapiddevelopment within 50 years is very astonishing. Therefore, we believe thatChina can be the future of this world. Moreover, in our culture we have a prophetsaying “Seek knowledge even upon China”, which encourages people of my cultureto learn useful knowledge from China, emphasizing how important is the Chineseculture to the world and how much we can learn from it. Thus, I chose China,because I believe that the future is here, because it is the land ofopportunities and is a great place for a start. 

2. Why did your choice fall on Southeast University?

Architecture was always my dream, when I was little I loved to lookat the buildings and draw them. So I started to look for the best architectureschool in China. Southeast University is one of the top universities in thearchitecture field, therefore I decided to visit Nanjing city. I really likedNanjing because it is a small, cozy and not very crowded city, which is verygood for living. And when I came to the campus of SEU and saw the amazingold-style buildings it was like a love from the first sight. On top of that,the way I was treated in the international students office and the life-styleof the local students really made it clear for me that I want to study inSoutheast. 

3. Did you encounter any challenges while studying? If yes, how did you manage to overcome it?

Culture was one of the biggest challenges for me. Chinese studentsgave me a lot of pressure, because they work and study really hard and youconstantly must keep up with their level. If you don’t catch up with yourChinese classmates’ level it becomes incredibly difficult. At first, I had tostudy extremely hard for about 8-10 hours a day for two years, doing almostnothing except learning Chinese. I surrounded myself with a lot of Chinesefriends, because I wanted to see China in the Chinese people. What helped me toget adjusted? The way Chinese students spend whole time in libraries on theirbooks studying and learning – the young scholars working hard in order to provetheir culture in the world. This fact gave me a strong incentive not just towork hard, but to work smart by adjusting myself to the local culture.

4. Can you share your academicand non-academic experience in Southeast University?

As I said, first years were very hard because of the language,culture and because I didn’t have any background in architecture. Once I gainedsome knowledge and learned how to design and manage my time, things becameeasier. Especially, I liked the design classes because drawing helped me torelax my mind. It seemed to me, that through art you can find a kind of innerpeace.

Besides studying, I really enjoy sport activities. When I was eight,I started to do Taekwondo. Currently I have black belt 4th Dan. WhenI came to Southeast, I found a small Taekwondo association. I wanted to makefriends and sport was the best way to do it. I shared my own hobby and I representedthe university in various competitions. From six competitions in China I’ve got5 gold medals and 1 silver medal. The silver medal I got was from thecompetition among all the universities in China 

5. What would you recommendto other foreign students willing to come to China?

I believe, that you should go through three steps. First, you mustlearn the language. You have to read and write a lot, and, of course, practice.I wouldn’t recommend to go on the streets and start talking right away. At first,I believe you must practice your listening and other skills. Not only youshould read books, but also listen to the local music, movies, shows andperformances. But don’t think if you learned the language and you speak it verywell, you can easily enter the community. This takes us to the second step –the culture. You must understand the special characteristics of the localculture, because it will allow you to get easier understanding about the waything go in China. Third, you must prove yourself in this culture andenvironment.

Besides that, I think that the biggest problem of foreign studentsin China is not setting a goal. You must set yourself a goal with a time-limit– what do you want to achieve within one month, within half a year, etc.? 

6. How does education inChina and in Southeast University fit in your career and life perspectives?

I came to China with a hope, and now I have a dream. My hope was tostudy architecture and to have a knowledge which will serve as a fundament.Within these seven years in China I realized that hope is not enough and Ilearned how to dream and how to make my dreams come true. My dream is to have agroup of companies which is concentrated on the outstanding service that canmake people’s life easier.

I believe that Southeast University will give me a direction in mylife and a start point in my career. Everything great in China starts fromuniversities and its scholars. Southeast university has a long history and hascontributed to the development of the country throughout its whole history. Butwhat I see about Southeast University, is not only itshistory, but also that it is a future. And I want to be a part of thissuccessful future.