Chinese Exchange Students Come to Towson


Emma Jablow & Maura Pannebecker

During the month of February, four Chinese exchange students visited Towson.  Vicky, Alex, Gary, and Eileen all aspire to be international college students at English-speaking universities in the United States, England, or Canada.  Before they get to college, the decided to get their first taste of the American school system here at Towson.

While Gary, Eileen, Vicky, and Alex were here, they experienced American culture at a real American school, which entailed attending classes at Towson.  Eileen’s favorite class was photography, while the other students all preferred math class. On the weekends, all of the Chinese exchange students who were visiting Baltimore County went on field trips together to places like the Inner Harbor, Washington DC, and Ocean City.  Vicky excitingly said that it was the “first time she had ever been to the beach in the winter.”  The Chinese exchange program also sponsors a trip to New York City.  At the time of this interview, the students were looking forward to doing some shopping on the trip.  According to Gary, things are cheaper here than they are in China. Before returning to China, they will take a trip out west and stay in California for a week.

Gary, Vicky, Eileen, and Alex noticed that the atmosphere in American schools is very different from Chinese schools. Eileen noted that students in China are “more calm.”  In Chinese classrooms, students are discouraged from speaking out or interacting with the teacher; their role as students is just to listen and take notes. Gary, Eileen, Vicky, and Alex were all in agreement that students in the United States are allowed to be more “honest” in school, both to teachers and students. They expressed that students in the United States are more outgoing in school. Eileen described American students as “passionate,” euphemistically referring loud classroom settings.

“Passionate” is a gentle way of describing the occasional behavior of American teenagers.  The exchange students were shocked that some American students are not afraid to misbehave in school. When asked how teachers react to student misbehavior in China, the group was stumped. “The students in China don’t misbehave,” was the unanimous answer.

Outside of the classrooms in China, Chinese students continue their dedication to learning. When asked what teenagers in China do in their free time, Gary, Eileen, Vicky, and Alex all answered “study.” Even when they hang out with friends, Chinese students continue studying. The only time that they have to relax is when they are on vacation. The different attitudes of Chinese students and American students toward school and learning were clear to the exchange students. Gary explained that he would want a combination of the two cultures: an emphasis on studying with more free time.

Though the numerous differences between Chinese and American culture could give anyone a bit of a culture shock, Gary, Eileen, Vicky, and Alex have adjusted well. They each knew a previous Chinese exchange student who raved about the trip, so they were prepared for an incredible experience.