My hometown's university is the destination of many Chinese post graduates, looking for an opportunity to do post doctoral research or work on their Masters or PhD degrees. There's also a growing number of Chinese undergrads joining the student ranks. Chinese students are now the number one group of foreign students at UCDavis.
As word spreads that UC Davis ranks among the top public universities in the United States, it's becoming an attractive option for students facing intense competition to get into China's best schools.
Freshman Lei Xue didn't get into Beijing University, considered China's premier school. Xue, 18, went online and researched American universities gaining prestige in China as springboards to careers on either side of the Pacific.
"More and more Chinese students are thinking about studying abroad because the quality of education here is better," Xue said. "In China, there are big lectures with too many students, and it's much easier to pass."
Xue, an economics major who whips around campus in green camouflage flip-flops on her neon-yellow bike, studies six hours a day. She said she does far more work than her friends in China.
"China's grading policy depends on the finals," she said. "Here our grades include attendance, midterms, finals and class work."
Beijing University is much cheaper – about $950 a year – but after a month in Davis, Xue believes she's better off, even at a cost of about $54,000 a year, including room, board, health insurance and other expenses.
That would have been unthinkable for many Chinese five years ago, but as the country's economy and population grow, city and coastal properties are soaring in value and more Chinese are cashing in to send their kids to U.S. schools.
Xue said that is how her family is paying.
"We sold our old house in Changsha," a city of 6.5 million in Hunan province. "It's not easy; it's based on our savings," she said during a break between her four Monday classes. "My father's a research scientist; my mother's a CPA."
Salaries are also going up in China, said Xue's statistics classmate Yanan Hu, an international relations major. His father works as a government inspector and his mother runs transportation services and an electronics business.
"I plan to work for the Chinese foreign service," said Hu, 19, who moved to San Francisco as a high school exchange student to prepare himself for college in the United States. -- Sacramento Bee (November 7, 2011)
With this influx of Chinese students seeking better jobs, a westernized education and a slice of the American dream, I wondered what it's really like for a Chinese student to leave China and be an expat in the U.S. Fortunately, a Chinese friend was willing to help me out. LaLa (as she preferred to be called in this interview), is about 30 years old has been married 5 years. She came to California to get her PhD without her husband who was also studying in the U.S. but at a different university. LaLa and her husband sacrificed a newly wed life together for the sake of their education and would only see each other on vacations and holidays. Now that LaLa has finished her research, she moved across country to be with her husband while she works on her dissertation.
Here's our interview done by email. While brief, Lala's answers to the questions can be informative, especially if you are familiar with Chinese culture and read between the lines.
I applied for universities in US in 2007 and got a fellowship offer so I came to US. Until 1-2 years before I applied, Chinese people, especially college students, were enthusiastic to seek for any opportunities to go to developed countries. But in 2007, it was noticeable that a lot of college students found more opportunities in China, like work for top companies, like Microsoft, Google, Baidu, Sina, or work for government, which provides very nice benefit after retirement and discount for buying apartment.
I am in Computer Science field, the reason is simple because I studied programming since I was 12.
The living environment in US on average is much better than in China. For any Chinese person, if they don't miss Chinese food or their family very much, they would find their life in US more enjoyable.