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Find out why over 660,000 Chinese students study abroad…and you should, too

Chinese and Asian students: you may be missing some marketable soft skills of the future. A European student exchange program or bootcamp can help.   

Generalisations can be problematic since there are many exceptions to any rule. Having said that, there appear to be some significant differences between the educational systems in China and Europe. To get the best of both worlds and develop the soft skills needed for their future careers , Chinese and Asian students often find it highly beneficial to attend European student exchange programs or educational bootcamps.

Here’s why…

 

The right answers vs. Unpredictable answers

Some questions have only one answer—the right one. Others have no predictable answer whatsoever, requiring you to “think on your feet.”

An article in Young Post (a unit of the South China Morning Post) examined this issue. The author pointed out that Chinese students tend to do better on standardised testing while Western students tend to do better on open-ended questions with a variety of “correct” answers.

This may be a result of the different aims of each educational system. In China, the focus appears to be on the correct answers. In other words, Chinese students are expected to accumulate knowledge and show that accumulation. In Europe, the aim is more towards the production of original work. For example, European students are expected to use their knowledge to solve problems in society or design new systems.

 

Creativity and critical thinking are two of the top soft skills employers are looking for now and will continue to want in the future. To develop those skills, students need to study in environments which practice them. European student exchange programs or educational bootcamps are great places to boost those skills.

 

Individual worker vs. Team player

Putting the emphasis on the correct answer, as discussed above, means that the more right answers a student has, the more successful he or she is. This creates a highly competitive atmosphere in which it is basically, every man/woman for himself/herself. It is logical, then, that Chinese students study individually and, in general, work alone. Collaboration would mean that you are helping someone who could end up beating you academically.

In Europe, much of education is project-based learning. Students work in groups to prepare presentations, investigate problems and design solutions, and construct alternative ways of doing things. A significant part of the assessment grade is teamwork—how well did the students work together to get their job done? In this model, collaboration is not only valued but essential. Usually, projects are too large for one student to complete it on his or her own, even if they wanted to.

 

Two more of the top soft skills employers are looking for are teamwork and collaboration. Both are complex. Working with others is often very challenging, especially in global companies with multicultural workforces. Taking part in a European educational bootcamp or student exchange program gives Chinese and Asian students the opportunity to widen their cultural circles and practice working with teammates who are different from themselves in significant ways.

 

Study time vs. “Play” time

Although they may be working hard, students in European educational organisations have time for extracurricular activities. They may be on the college basketball team, the university newspaper, or volunteering at a local hospital. It is usual for each student to be involved in at least ONE thing besides school.

Chinese students appear to live and breathe their studies. These round the clock students are called “Xué bà.” (We would say “bookworm” in English.) Their intense, almost tyrannical studying leaves them little time for much else. While this may be admirable in China, it isn’t in Europe. Global companies are not going to see it as a plus either. The simple reason is that global workers are the faces of their organisations, and these organisations are looking for people who are more than just their job titles.

Extracurricular activities broaden our perspectives. We learn life skills that are usually not available while studying in a classroom. In addition, we learn to be comfortable in situations which challenge their comfort zones. Student exchange programs and educational bootcamps in Europe give Chinese and Asian students a break from their intense studying, so they can benefit from some extracurricular “play” time.

 

Is it all going to be enjoyable?

There may be some challenges, yet it is exactly these bumps in the road which are going to give you opportunities to really find out who you are. As mixed martial artist, Josh Barnett said: “Open yourself to new ideas and new things even if you find you don’t like them in the end – but at least knowing them has taken you that much further along into being a more experienced, more well-rounded person in this world.