US grows on overseas Chinese students

Updated: 2015-12-08 11:32

By Amy He and Hezi Jiang in New York(China Daily USA)

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For Chinese students, studying in the US leads to positive views of both China and the US, a new survey finds.

Of those polled, 55.6 percent of students said that studying in America led to more positive views of China, and 60 percent said that they viewed the US more positively, according to survey results released by Foreign Policy magazine on Monday. Students emerge with "more admiration" for the US, though they learn that "America's streets aren't exactly paved with gold".

Foreign Policy conducted the bilingual survey of 186 Chinese students aged 18 to 29 who at some point in their lives studied at one of five US institutions of higher learning - University of California-Berkeley, Indiana University, University of Washington, Bryn Mawr College or Kansas State University.

Authors of the survey report said that the students' positive views of the US did not come at the detriment of their image of China. While they said that they were able to be more creative and open-minded than they would have been if they had stayed at home, the students said they gained more respect for the "enormity of the task involved in running China", according to the report.

A majority of respondents. 78.1 percent, said that they chose to study in the US because of the quality of education; 15.5 percent cited future job prospects.

Jin Huiyan, a first-year master's student at Columbia University studying biostatistics, said her parents had always wanted her to pursue a degree overseas, and she picked America for its fame and quality of education. Jin said that living in the US for six months made her like the country more.

US grows on overseas Chinese students

"I thought it would be hard for me to fit in because the cultures are so different. In fact, I learned that we not that different," said Jin. "And my life becomes more interesting."

Jin said study in the US also allowed her to see China more objectively. She misses feeling safe at Beijing without worrying about guns and terrorism, but she doesn't miss the air.

Li Mingming, a senior at University of Illinois, said that after living in the US for four years, she has more positive views of both the US and China.

"China is getting stronger in economics. Nowadays, media talks more about China's influence. Although we have problems, it's good to see that the effort we made is recognized by the world. Being away from home makes me feel more proud when I see good news of China," said Ming, who loves the US for its liberal environment and celebration on individuality.

Haifeng Huang, professor of political science at UC-Merced, said that "abstract" understandings of the US are clarified once students have experienced studying in the US, which leads to positive feelings toward America.

At the same time, "overly romantic" perceptions of the US and "self-loathing" of the Chinese identity are recalibrated when students see that things are not "as shiny as they had imagined," Huang told Foreign Policy.

More than 300,000 Chinese students are now studying in the US, according to the Institute for International Education. Many are now coming to the US for undergraduate studies when they previously favored coming for graduate school.

Chinese international students account for about one-third of all international students studying in the US for the 2014-15 academic year, an increase of 10.8 percent over the previous year.

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US grows on overseas Chinese students