We interviewed Esfer, Ivana and Mukhtasar last September. How was the past year like for them?
In an interview a year ago, we asked three international freshmen what brought them to Fudan. Things have changed quite a lot in and around Fudan since then, we wonder if they have more new ideas to share with us and hopefully, their experience provides prospective international students across the globe insiders’ perspectives of what it is like to study in Fudan.
Esfer (Esmeraldito Ferreira)/ Clinical Medicine major from East Timor
Mukhtasar (Mukhtasar Rustamova) / International Politics major from Uzbekistan
Ivana (Ivana Dinić) / Chinese Language major from Serbia
Q: You received our interview at the freshers’ week last September. That was before you had a real taste of Fudan campus life. Now you have actually lived and studied at Fudan. Is there anything different from what you expected? Anything interesting you want to share with us?
Esfer: At that time, Fudan in my mind was like a towering peak of higher education. I expected my study here would be stressful, but also I knew that I could learn so much here. I was right. Over the past semesters, I’ve had a slew of opportunities to gain knowledge. Fudan’s academic environment and the fact that all students I know here work so hard has really impressed me.
Mukhtasar: I think Fudan is like an elder family member who is caring and tolerant. It offers me a wide range of events to try new things and allows me to find an area that I will be dedicated to and thus persist on it. Be it study, extracurricular activities or hobbies groups, we should all get out of our comfort zone and push past our limits. I set ambitious goals for myself, and with the guidance of the teachers at Fudan, I’ve found practical ways to accomplish them. I am encouraged by those excellent Fudan students in senior years. In Fudan, those goals of mine are no longer untouchable stars high up in the sky.
A Chinese saying goes that “One relies on his parents at home and his friends outside”. I agree with it. Last year when I was far away from my hometown, and all my friends in Fudan were the people I could count on. Admitted to this prestigious university, I know clearly there is still a lot for me to catch up with my fellow Chinese classmates. I have met so many hard-working students here, and I must be more diligent.
Ivana: I still remember how excited I was on my first day coming to Fudan. I was wowed. The campus is huge and the buildings are all so elegant. I met a lot of freshmen and I saw joy on their faces. I was over the top, knowing that I would be studying in one of the best universities in China. It was such a big thing for me. Honestly I’d never thought I could be studying in Fudan. Now in my second year, the excitement doesn’t come as strong, but I feel blissful every day.
The professors are strict with our study. They are quite serious about teaching. But the university also holds activities that help us make friends and nobody is left alone here. The fact that everyone has a great time studying in Fudan makes it a cheerful university.
Q: More or less international students encounter language barriers during their study. Is it hard for you to catch up with classes? What are your favorite courses?
Esfer: Indeed, it’s no easy job. My Chinese isn’t good enough. I spend a lot of time on reviewing materials from my last class and prepare for the next. Human Anatomy, for example, as a basic course that all medical students must work through, contains a sea of complicated information. But my teacher delivers the course content in a brief but easy-to-understand way. I learned not only the knowledge about human anatomy but also the way of memorizing such a huge amount of information. Now I know how to study this course more efficiently.
Mukhtasar: At first I had troubles understanding what teachers said in class; besides, I was a little shy to ask questions. But quickly I caught up, with the help of my classmates and teachers. I like all the courses, and my favorite ones are Sociology taught by Pro. Wu and International Relations taught by Pro. Jiang. They both kindly ask all students to speak up their opinions in class.
Ivana: I won’t say it’s hard. I know there’s room for improvement in terms of my Chinese proficiency, so I spend more time on reviewing what I learned and preparing for classes in advance. There are two courses that I will never forget: “Chinese Characters” and “The Analects of Confucius”. “Chinese Characters” is truly the best course I’ve ever had, for the teacher explains everything in detail and so clearly. You just know how well-learned the teacher is. I like to ask a lot of questions, but no matter how many questions I have, the teacher answers all of them patiently. I am also fascinated by “The Analects of Confucius”. I love philosophy and I feel so inspired listening to the teacher’s explanation after reading the analects. The teacher also teaches us what those ancient Chinese words and phrases mean. I really recommend this course.
Q: How’s your life in Fudan? Have you get used to the dormitory and canteens? Did you have fun in after-class activities?
Esfer: I enjoy my life in Fudan. I’ve made friends in the dormitory, and we’ve had a lot of fun. I like the food in the canteens. As for after-class time, I take part in all kinds of activities, football, painting, summer sessions and so on.
Mukhtasar: My life in Fudan is fantastic. It’s comfortable to live in Fudan’s dormitory. I love the food in the university canteens. My favorite are the Halal dishes. I had a tight schedule on weekdays with my study last year, but I made time to visit the Bund, the Yu Garden, and some museums in the city. I self-studied a lot inside Guanghua Building, where I looked through the large glass windows to enjoy the greenery below from time to time. Last year, students from my country started a student association called Uzbeks in Fudan. We held a festival in Guanghua Building to promote Uzbek culture and traditions, inviting over 150 teachers and students from different nations. We displayed to them our costumes, shared our food and played Uzbek games.
Ivana: To be honest, at the very start of my freshman year, I went through a lonely period. However, this feeling quickly disappeared as I made friends in the many extra-curriculum activities Fudan offers. I have also joined a line dance team.
Friends and food, as far as I’m concerned, are very important for one to adapt to a new environment. And the food in Fudan’s canteens is just amazing! Though there are many restaurants nearby, I eat at the university canteens most of the time. Now we even have a totally transformed, brand-new North Canteen. Its food and environment are so nice. I never expected a university canteen to be so cozy.
Q: Fudan has moved many classes online to meet the need of international students who cannot return to campus due to health risks. How are classes going now? Have you encountered any difficulties with online learning?
Esfer: I’ve been taking online classes at home since the pandemic broke out. What’s different with classroom teaching is that it’s less convenient to ask questions of teachers and discuss with my classmates. Plus the internet signal over here is not very stable. But the teachers make great effort to make sure that I keep up, sending me videos and additional materials to answer my questions.
Mukhtasar: I am now taking online classes at home, which I think is less efficient than having classes on campus. China time is three hours ahead of Uzbekistan time. That means when I take an 8 am class, I’ll have to be awake at 5 am, but I’m used to getting up early now. Another problem is that if there is a sudden power cut, I will be disconnected from the virtual classroom. Sometimes I also need to take care of my grandparents and help out around the house, so I must organize my time wisely.
Ivana: Talking about difficulties, I do have one. That is I really miss everything back at Fudan. I’m looking forward to meeting with my professors in person again. I hope I could have the delicious food in Fudan’s canteens again. I just want to come back as soon as possible.
Q: What’s your goal for this semester?
Esfer: To pass all exams and to get a good grade in Human Anatomy!
Mukhtasar: I try to work hard and make progress every day to get good grades in exams. I hope the pandemic can be over soon so that I can go back to the campus. I really miss everyone in Fudan.
Ivana: My long-term goal is to become a China hand. So, for this semester, I will continue to gain more knowledge on China and improve my Chinese proficiency to move close to that goal.
Esfer, Mukhtasar & Ivana’s campus life albums
Esfer (2nd from the left, first row) in white gown, went with his classmates to Fudan affiliated Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital for a practical session
Esfer (1st from the right) participates in 2019 Fudan International Summer Session
sfer (1st from the right, first row) poses with his teammates at a football practice
Esfer shows his work at a painting class
Mukhtasar sits on the grassland in front of Guanghua building
Mukhtasar sits in a bubble tea shop
Mukhtasar celebrates a culture festival with other members of Uzbeks in Fudan (UFD), an international student association
Ivana (front row in white T-shirt) finds her passion in line dance. Line dance is a choreographed dance with a repeated sequence of steps in which a group of people dance in rows, all facing either each other or in the same direction, and executing the steps at the same time.
Ivana (in pink dress, front row) shows off a typical Kunqu pose after a Kunqu 101 class
Ivana attends a session where students paint on traditional Chinese silk fans