Trip to Beijing Foreign Studies University,
Date: March 26 ~ April 3, 2006
Members: Dr. Yun-Pi Yuan (Chair), Ms. Belen
Liao (Freshmen), Frances Chen (Junior), Lenny Chen (Junior), Julie Chou
(Junior), Rita Fang (Junior), Judy Huang (Junior), Ignecia Lin (Junior),
May Lin (Junior), Cindy Liu (Junior), Veronica Ni (Junior), Grace Liu
Beijing Foreign Studies University
The Experience and Reflection in Beijing
I have been to Beijing to study in Beijing Foreign Studies University for about ten days, and during these days, I have found out that there were many differences between us. The differences could be sorted into three parts: the department’s administration, the teaching method, and the students.
First, I would like to talk about the administration of English department in BFSU, Beijing Foreign Studies University. In BFSU, the English department is subordinated to English college. Under English college, it has English department, journalism and communication department, diplomacy department and department of law. And under the English department, it has four minors: oral interpretation, written interpretation, literature, and one minor that studies international culture. In addition, students in BFSU can not minor in other fields. They can only master what they are major in. Although they can double-major, the departments they can choose from are limited. For example, the English major can only double-major in some English-related departments. The situation is different from our university, FJU. In FJU, the English department is under the College of Foreign Literatures & Languages. In addition, we do not have minors under our department. Moreover, we can minor or major in whatever department we like. Compare with the two colleges, I think that BESU put more emphasis on sorting our students according to different ability; however, FJU make students have more freedom to study what they are interested in.
Second, I would like to compare the teaching situation in the two English departments. In Beijing, I have experienced different learning atmosphere and methods by taking different courses. For instance, I have taken some skill courses, which are like our CC class, such as interpretation, written translation, listening translation, and intensive reading. Other selective courses are like American social and culture, English journalism, and British literature. After taking these courses, I found out that there were some different situations between us.
In my opinion, about their skill courses, they put more emphasis on training students in order to make them capable of mastering the skill. Take written translation course as an example, after lecture, the teacher would use some English articles or even formal official articles for students to practice translating them into Chinese. Then, after students translate them into Chinese, the teacher would make some common and make students to revise their interpretation. During the whole class, two hours, they do the same things through out the class. This would definitely make students be familiar with the skill of interpretation; however, to me, it seems too repetitive and bored. Take the listening interpretation as another example, in the two hours, the teacher keeps broadcasting the tape for students to listen to and then ask the students to translate them into Chinese. Again, after translation, the teacher would give some commons and then keep practicing listening interpretation. For me, I feel like a high school student because the teaching way is resemble the way taught in high school. The teacher gave a lot of practice to students. Unlike the situation in FJU, the teachers just mention about the main point and then the students have to figure out the problem and practice themselves. Moreover, In BEFU, , I always feel interested in the first-hour class for I do not have resemble class in FJU; nevertheless, in the second hour, I become to feel bored because the teaching way is fixed and seems to be endless. The skill courses in BEFU are like CC class in FJU. However, I think that perhaps we have combine more topics in our CC class rather than sorting those topics into single courses so that our teaching way has more variations and alterations. For example, when teaching about job interview, we really hold an imitative job interview for students to practice. Hence, students would not feel bored easily when taking CC class. Nevertheless, I have to admit that, generous speaking, the ability of BEFU students is better than us in FJU. The foundation of their English skill such as listening and speaking are really better than us. Maybe, to have a better basis of English skill, using the boring way to study would be a better way.
Except for the system and the course, I had also known more about the students in Beijing. In fact, before I went to Beijing, I was very afraid that if I could not compete with them at all. Although I knew that I still had much more room to improve, I was not as worry as before. The reason was that when taking course in Beijing, I found out that some of them were just like students in Taiwan. They would nod their head during the class, remain silent when the teacher was asking some responses, skip class when it is necessary…etc. They were not really different with us. However, they did have something that we students in Taiwan can learn from them. One was that they were sincere and responsible for every assignment. According to the interview we did in Beijing, they would use at least three or four days to prepare a presentation in class. They would digest the content first, and then do the research. Next, they would do the power point file if it was necessary and write down the script of what they were going to say. Finally, they would memorize the script until they could say it fluently. From the process of doing an assignment, I suddenly realized that how a lazy student I was. I should really do some adjustment on my attitude toward my studies. And the other thing that worth to learn was that they were diligent and active in studying. I remembered one day after they accompanied us to take a look at some historical relics, they still hurried to the library to study even though there was no test on the other day. If I were them, I would go back to the dorm to sleep rather than studying. And this showed that I was not diligent enough as well.
After getting along with the students there, I have found that we are actually the same in the physical and psychological part, and the only difference is the attitude toward learning. If I could spend more time studying and improve myself actively, I believe I could compete with them in the future. Joining this trip does not help me improve my English ability for we have only taken a week of courses, but it does help me introspect myself in my study. When I am lazy and do not want to catch up my delayed assignment, I would think of the students in Beijing. In this way, I have the motivation to finish my homework. I hope I could do better and better in my studies later, and I hope that the other students who have also joined this trip would make some differences on themselves as well so that we could proudly say to the people in the world that we are Taiwanese and we are not inferior to students in China.
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The Reflection of a Trip to Beijing
When I knew that the English department would hold a study trip to Beijing, I decided to visit Beijing, the ancient capital which is the embodiment of preserved heritage and modern development. When on the way to Beijing, while I was excited to be approaching Beijing, I was afraid because Beijing was such a mysterious place to me. After landing, this unnecessary fear faded away because the mild weather made me calm down. I felt extraordinary excited. Every scene I saw was so unreal. The people I met here looked similar to me, but there were something different, enormous different that I wanted to find out. And that was the primary reason I went to Beijing. In this ten-day trip, I was astonished to see, to experience, and to involve in the “real Beijing life”. The classes I attended, the people I contacted, and every new thing I experienced were so unique that I surely would never forget this unforgettable journey. I learned, and earned back a lot.
I. The classes I attend
Our destination is Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU). It is considered one of the best foreign languages institutes in China. BFSU is famous for its prestigious faculty and staff, and its excellent and competitive students. Before I go to BFSU, I am told that BFSU students’ command of English is outstanding. They are the top of the tops in China. It is true. Having studied with them for several courses in the same classroom, I realize why they can be that exceptionally good. Their secret to master English is not difficult to unveil but is difficult to carry on. Their key to success: study, study hard, and study whenever there is a time.
In BFSU, I attend quite a few interesting courses, such as interpretation, American History, English speaking, translation, and the like. Attending in these classes, I am more like an observer than a participant (actually, I do participate in English speaking). I observe the students, and the teaching materials and methods carefully because I am eager to see the so-called hard-working attitude of Chinese students with my own eyes. As an observer, I see some things which are different to the Taiwanese students, in terms of their learning attitude, and the viewpoint of the value of the things. The differences lie in that 1) the majority of them consider teachers the authorities, 2) being able to be educated is a blessing, and 3) the society is so competitive that one must struggle and strive to get a good grade.
In class, first, I find students pay their full attention to teachers’ lecturing. Almost all of them are very concentrated. The teachers are giving lecturing by showing them power point slides. I am very surprised to see that the teachers, both the young and old ones, are using computer-assisted aids when teaching. Hardly do they write things on the blackboard. They all prepare their own slides. The students are accustomed of using visual and audio aids when giving presentation. Some of the students even bring their laptop to class to document things they want to. Clearly, it is consequences of China’s economic growth. That is, in fact, many of them are afford to buy high-tech products. In classroom, teachers are the authorities. What they say will be considered perfectly right. Although students are encouraged to give their own opinions by some young and active teachers, teachers’ opinions and conclusion will be believed as the most right one with no doubt. After the class, the teachers will leave immediately. Some students tell me that the teachers are “far away” from them. There is an invisible gap between teachers and students. Hence, teachers are not close friends. Teachers are authorities and they do not have personal contact with students after class. In class, second, I find students are counting their blessings for being able to be educated. In china, some people are very rich due to the economic miracles, but some don’t. There is an extreme disparity between the rich and the poor. The students I meet, some are from rich family, but some are from middle class family. For those who are able to get the advance education, they are thankful because the tuition and fee is quite high in China. In order to go to the University, their family may spend a fortune to support them to be educated. Therefore, the students I encounter, especially those from bourgeoisie study very hard. Finally, in class, I find students are very active and always be ready and willing to answer the questions the teachers raise. A student tells me that she hopes to study abroad after graduation. To realize her dreams, she must study hard now to get a high GPA since other students are very competitive. One time, I go to visit the school libraries. It is just 8 o’clock in the morning. But to my surprise, the eight reading rooms are filled with people. They bury their head in books. What amazing! I really admire the way they cope with their studies.
II. The general reflection
This ten-day journey to Beijing truly broadens my view of China, and the world. As far as I am concerned, I have heard many negative stories about the dark side of China society: the foods are dirty, the products are lousy, and the people are cunning. But actually, they are not true. Putting aside the political issues, I think the people are nice and friendly. The foods actually are very delicious; one can try different kinds of traditional Chinese cuisines, such as Szechwan and Zhejiang styles. I personally prefer Szechwan cuisine because it is hot and spicy and tasty. The products here are not lousy, but because of the appearance and name of the products, we may consider it lousy. For example, in Taiwan, we translate “yogurt” into優若乳, but in China, they call it “酸奶”, which to me, sounds quite disgusting at first. But after trying it, I find it not only good in taste but also cheap in price. In our point of view, we may think their translation of the exotic words is strange and ridiculous, but it is just their way of saying that. The only difference lies in the lexical items, other than that, I do not think all of their products lousy. Finally, because China is peopled with 13 million people, they have to work hard to stand their own two feet in the competitive society. So, they will try hard to succeed and to win over others. The way the lead their life may appear to be a little aggressive, but it is human nature. They just want to strive and survive.
To conclude, the journey to Beijing is so impressive and informative that I would never forget it. From the bottom of my heart, I would very happy to say this journey to Beijing is a gold-digging journey. I go there to find “gold” which brings me the wealth of spirit and knowledge, and I feel wealthy now. In class, I witness the hard-working attitude of students, which stimulates me to work hard as they do. They are my modal. They make me know there is no quick path to success; to succeed, it takes time and efforts. After the class, I go out with the local students. We talk over many current issues. Communicating with them, I get to know their outlook of the life. By sharing different opinions, we understand one another more. That is the real communication, and I really take great pleasure in that. It is the wonderful journey. I am glad I made a right decision to visit Beijing!
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From the tip to Beijing, not only do I cultivate the international perspective, but also experience a different flavor of school life which seems alike mine, however, with totally different way of learning. Besides, the most beneficial thing I acquired from this trip is to know how indifferent I am toward this world and my lack of international perspective.
One mere week course is not enough to put any judgment on their courses system. But truly, I find out some differences spontaneously. Because Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFU) has close relationship with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the courses are designed perfectly for future career and are prone to be effective as well. It is good to learn the skills which the students can apply into the work for the future, but it makes me feel a little bit utilitarian. Because no matter what courses I took there, they are all toward the only goal: cultivating themselves as professional in order to compete within the society.
Difference foci could be told from presentations. The student in American History course did a perfect presentation. With delicate power point, she speaks English fluently and her content is well- organized. However, she gave a presentation with the script which she had prepared in advanced. With script, they perform professionally. In our department, students are not allowed to bring script during presentation to practice how to speak with a note instead of memorizing whole speech.
Not every course in Fu-Jen University is aimed to train students in a specific field in future career. Some of the courses are really helpful for living. But more important, we learned ourselves or even our life through those courses which look not important such as Practical Ethics. We emphasize more on “human”. Both in the literature class, the students in Taiwan are lead to scrutinize each character’s personalities and are asked to experience their feeling in their position at that age of the book. We learn the life better through literature work. However, the students in Beijing are guided to survey the literature work from the outer perspective. For example, they would talk more about the backgrounds of the work on a certain ages from the book. They read literature from outer space, and we study it from inner world of the characters.
Within the competitive nature in their society, students remind themselves to study all the time. They study hard because they realize they might be kicked out easily if they perform inferior. The influence between the classmates for them is to alarm each other to study hard. However, in Taiwan, friends often gather together for pleasure. Students in Beijing quite understand how difficult they will be if they are not better than other people. Therefore, they study much harder than we do in Taiwan.
As the other experience in Beijing, I would like to say that it is an unprecedented experience staying under Communism. I have heard that they do not have freedom to talk about many issues such as politics. However, this is first time do I comprehend the power of information blocking. Most of students know a lot about cross-straight politics, but do not know many about our lives. First few days in Beijing, after Beijing students talks with us, they told us we speak Mandarin pretty well because they consider us speaking Taiwanese. Talking about the famous visiting spot in Taiwan such as 101 building, I am shocked that they do not know about it. They are curious more about our opinions on politics instead of our lives. That is really different from us. In Taiwan, most students have no interest in getting involved in politics. However, students in China have no right to participate politics.
I think the gap between rich and poor is severe because compare to the common people and students in BFU. They are quite different in behavior. Lots of people split on the streets and they do not close the door when using the restrooms. Therefore, I think the gap between poor and rich is huge and in this trip, I do not have opportunity to experience how huge it is.
Students there are really nice. I feel their hospitality in bones. And we feel familiar especially speaking the same language. They are all from various provinces in Mainland China. They are open-hearted and I could tell their sincerity by taking us around the whole city help us answer the questions we are asking. The last night in the party, we all felt sad to leave. That is really odd that we seem so alike but also so many differences between us.
From chatting with Beijing students, I was keenly impressed by their international view. People consider that Taiwanese students lack international perspective and the awareness of international issues. At first, I do not care about it because I think it does not matter. However, comparing to Chinese students, their talkativeness and confidence are from the international information acquiring. International perspective acquires people look the whole world from a neutral view point, understanding different culture without bias. From this trip, Beijing students pay more attention on international issues and news than we do. Although in their country, the government would block some adverse news or opinions from other sides, the students still try to dig out the truth or various points of view as possible. On the contrary, we here have all the freedom to know whatever we want but we do not hold the chance to know more. Mass media in Taiwan own entire freedom to report or publish any information but most of the journalism failed to apply to profession in providing people real and good quality news. Both of Chinese students and Taiwanese students are lack of international perspective. For Chinese students, plenty of information are blocked by the government. For Taiwanese students, we show indifferent attitude toward the world. In this case, actually, we Taiwanese students could have performed better because of our advantages, information freedom. Shortage of international perspective leads our place being marginalized.
In general, the opportunity to Beijing is precious. Not only did I visit their rich Chinese culture, but also eat lots of delicacy. Furthermore, this trip makes me to survey myself what strength and weakness I own by comparing with others.
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Reflection of Journey to
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