“WE ARE not competent to discuss India-China relations, we only focus on our studies.” This is what a group of students from China at Lovely Professional University (LPU) said firmly at the start of an interaction with The Indian Express. Despite the ups and downs in India-China relations, Chinese students have been coming to this university in the heart of Punjab over the past five years, and are enrolled in various streams. Nearly 60 students take several courses here and seven students joined this academic session.
They cite the low cost in comparison with Western universities, the shorter distance from their country and the cultural diversity of India as the main reasons why they chose to study in India. Enrolled in a range of courses, from information technology, physiotherapy, biotechnology, computer science, architecture, education, to yoga and and English Learning Programmes, the students also throw themselves into other aspects of campus life and take part massively in co-curricular and cultural activities.
They said their families had no concerns over their safety and security in India. Some also said the life of a student in India is fast-paced compared to what it is in their country. “I love studying here because students here are provided with more practical knowledge than theoretical knowledge. On the invocation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, more students want to become manufacturers and entrepreneurs to be affluent and to create jobs. From what we have gathered, students here are taught to work on their ideas to turn those into reality. In fact, they study to get skilled and we too want to be on the same footing,” said Peng Xue, who is pursuing a master’s in IT.
Another student said he admired the way students on campus apply “innovative and latest techniques” to solve problems. Qihao Xu (BSc biotechnology) had picked up a few words in Hindi and said he had several Punjabi friends. “There is a lot of difference in the ways of teaching, living, eating between here and our country,” he said.
Asked why Chinese students join study programmes in India, Peng Xue said: “Though Chinese students preference is always to join studies in American or Canadian institutions, however, not everybody can afford it. Education in India is much affordable and moreover quality of education is almost in parallel to that of the Western countries.”
“Being from a neighbouring country, the easy distance between China and India is another factor. If we feel nostalgic or if there’s an emergency, we can easily reach our country in a shorter time as compared to Canada or the US,” said another student. Most of the students believed that as a people, the Chinese are more open as compared to Indians. Food habits are also very different. Unlike in Western countries, there are no stores in India selling Chinese groceries. “We bring a lot of food items and spices with us,” said another students adding that even the Chinese food served in restaurants was “not really Chinese.”
Qihao Xu commented on the heavy food and late night eating habits of Indians. “Many of my Punjabi friends offer me their home-made aloo parantha, makki di roti with sarson daa saag, lassi and so many other things. Even their breakfast is so sumptuous, with a lot of variety. I love it,” he said, adding in Hindi: “Balle-Balle Achha Hai (Balle Balle Dance is also my favourite).” “In China, we dine around 6:30 pm. In India, most of the restaurants start serving food not before 8:30 pm,” said Peng Xue.
He said academics was “more vigorous in India” in comparison to China. “Life of a student in India is fast-paced. In China there is lot of rest time between lectures. Even lunch hours are two hours at least,” he said. The students said being taught in English was an advantage. “The good part is that being rich in terms of diversity of people, almost everyone in India speaks English here and instructions are also in English. Many Chinese students are not so good in English but we have no difficulty in understanding the lessons and conversations. And they learn a lot more English also,” said Wang Hailan, adding that they try to learn some Punjabi and Hindi from their fellow students.
Director, division of International Affairs at LPU, Aman Mittal said, “As there aren’t enough places in China’s top universities to accommodate all aspiring students, Chinese student population is slowly swelling at LPU as these students want good university outside their country, and in this regard they are willing to travel.”