BGSU welcomes business students from China

Students from Tianjin Polytechnic University get a taste of life in U.S.


By Shay Carroll

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon, Professor Tim Chambers starts a class at Bowling Green State University's College of Business. As the students wait outside the classroom for him to arrive, they discuss their classes and social lives, and they compare translation notes on their most recent assignment.

That's because this isn't a typical class. The students’ conversations are a mix of Mandarin and English, and this is a transitioning and acclimation course for exchange students from the Tianjin Polytechnic University (TPU) in China. Over the course of the next hour, Chambers and the TPU students discuss western culture, life at BGSU, assignments and any other problems they might be dealing with.  

“Overall, it is fascinating to share both the faculty and culture between the schools,” Chambers said."

BGSU has been working with TPU since 2014 to develop an exchange system for students and teachers to experience education in a different culture. This, however, is the first year that TPU students are at BGSU, fulfilling their credit requirements for a degree in business while getting an education abroad experience.

In addition to their classwork, Chambers has been helping the Chinese students figure out course and credit equivalents that they will need to graduate in May. .

Dr. Zubair Mohamed, associate dean at College of Business, said that faculty and administrators have been working together to track the students’ progress since they arrived.  

“We still meet on a monthly basis,” he said.

Ten to 12 TPU students plan to graduate in May with business degrees. A lot will happen between now and then, including additional opportunities to explore cultural differences throughout their educational milestones.

One of these milestones was the exam process, and most of the TPU students said they were looking ahead to class exams, which are different from evaluations in China. Some students said they have used their classes here to present talk about current issues such as gender, culture and the press, comparing the United States to China. By talking with other American students and researching current U.S. events, their presentations and reports are an effective way to learn about Western culture.

Still, the fall semester  brought some surprises as they acclimated to Western culture.

Many of the students said that Americans hold different attitudes about classwork than they are familiar with at home. One student explained that he found it confusing when most of his BGSU classmates did homework during the week, because at TPU in China, students usually do homework solely over the weekend.

Additionally, the TPU students said they found that the United States views gender and tradition differently, especially when it comes to gender roles and what is socially acceptable in the different countries.  

“The gender roles are a bit harsher in China,” one TPU student said, “especially with what women can or cannot do.”

Many TPU students noted that BGSU and other American universities focus on how to help students with their work and understand the learning process, particularly through programs such as the BGSU Learning Commons. In China, however, the curriculum and classes are much more regimented, with applications of knowledge to the real world left for post-graduation.  

“We try to enact a more active learning environment here,” Dr. Mohamed said. “We have a much more inquiry-based learning system, especially with our critical thinking classes, which leads to more engaged and responsible students.”

Other smaller culture changes the TPU students mentioned include some things that are everyday cultural norms for U.S. students.  

“Air conditioning was very surprising,” one TPU student said. “It’s just a thing we don’t have in China. It’s very nice when it’s hot outside, though.”