As a finance student who has studied a four year bachelor of finance programme in a first-level university in China, and a two year master of finance programme here at Lund university, I can spot significant differences between the education at a chinese university versus a swedish one. In China, I attended Zhejiang Gongshang University, where most of the students are very dedicated; they value the academic performance during the studies, and the competition is quite intense. Usually, at the end of the semester, there will be rankings according to the academic performances. In most cases, students are expected to pass the exams at once. Those who take the re-exams are considered underachievers. Thus, chinese students are quite hard-working.
At Zhejiang Gongshang, even in the beginning of the semester, the university’s five-floor library will be filled with students until 10:00pm, when the library closes. In contrast, swedish universities seem to be more relaxed. When I had my first exam here, I was shocked to find that it would take 5 hours with merely 5 questions. Even though every question usually required a one page answer. The benefit of studying here is that there will be no rankings at the end of the semester, since students’ academic performances are considered private. In addition to that, the students will always have a second, third or even more chances to pass the exams until they think they can get good scores.
Another significant difference I have detected is the method of teaching. In China, teachers will put a lot of effort into explaining the theories. Thus, students can take advantage in generating a sufficient theoretical knowledge. However, there usually are not many assignments, especially assignments that emphasize on teamwork and cooperation. In Sweden, on the other hand, assignments have always been essential and most assignments are quite practical in relation to the real world. I think this is what chinese universities should learn from the swedish universities, providing education of theoretical knowledge, meanwhile enhancing practical skills.
The biggest difference I think, is the after-school life. Lund university provides students with such an abundant social life, like the Nations, student unions and many other organizations. It is a hundred times more wonderful than the after-school life in China. In chinese universities, there are also student unions and different organizations, but they provide limited activities to students that usually are much more formal. Besides, chinese students often prefer to go to KTV to sing songs together rather than going to a bar.
What I really appreciate about Sweden is the value of respect. It is rooted in the swedish society, and may be the most important value. I find that swedes are usually considerate people, paying much attention to details. It seems like they always say something good in front of others. They try to avoid making other people feel uncomfortable. However, I find one thing a bit funny. Swedish students will call the teachers by their first name. This would never happen in China, where students often try to show a respect towards their teachers and professors by using titles such as Mr/Mrs or professor.
Before arriving in Sweden, I thought China might be the only country that emphasizes greatly on what we call ’’guanxi’’ (relations), referring to social networking. For example, in some investment banks, there are so called son and daughter programmes. They allow senior executives to hire children of the senior government officers in order to get certain projects done. True nepotism. It is not until I have lived in Sweden for almost two years that I realize how social networking in Sweden might be more important and emphasized than in China. But, the difference is that in Sweden, social networking is usually built up by self-effort, through ability and charm.
In relation to networking, there is another thing that I also appreciate about swedish culture, the fika. It might be a cultural treasure held only by the swedes. Usually, during breaks, I find that swedish people go outside of the classroom to buy a cup of coffee and have a chat. Compared to China, where students usually stay inside the classroom during the break; some students will talk a little bit in a low voice, some will take a nap. But we do not have the tradition of leaving the classroom. The reason why I admire fika culture is that in a society, transmission of information is quite important. The fika has definitely reduced communication costs and promoted efficiency of the transmission of information. Of course, it has also helped people to get to know one another and cooperate with each other in a better way, whether it is in a matter of studies or working life.
Finally, I want to say that even though I may have had a tough time during my studies, I have never regretted the choice of studying here in Sweden. Instead, I think it could be the best choice I have ever made and I feel grateful for all my experiences here.