Despite furloughs, budget cuts and the difficult economic times, not all aspects of education are suffering as four CSUN students have received scholarships from the China Scholarships Council to study abroad at U. S. sister universities in China.
Danielle Cabello, Don Duprez, Susan Tang and Lisa Farber have either started studying in China or are on their way.
These scholarships are given by the Chinese government to allow U.S. students an opportunity to learn about and experience China from a student’s point of view.
Dr. Justine Zhixin Su, CSUN’s director of the China Institute, is excited about the four scholarships that were given to these deserving CSUN students.
“We want next year for more of our students to apply for this,” Su said.
In total, CSUN students have earned 18 scholarships from the Chinese government including the four from this year.
Cabello, an English major, is studying at the Northeast Normal University in Changchun. Duprez, an anthropology major, is attending the Wuhan University of Science and Technology and Tang is attending the Central China University of Science and Technology to work on her degree in health science.
The other scholarship recipient, Farber, a theater major with a focus in design and management, has been studying at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing for about two weeks. The academy is highly respected and considered to be the Chinese equivalent to Julliard.
“I’m honored to have been placed at this school, as many Chinese students dream their whole lives of coming here,” Farber said.
The 22-year-old has many expectations during her time in China including carrying on a conversation in Chinese and meeting people who are as eager as she is to learn about the Chinese culture and history. She hopes to make life-long friendships and gain experiences and memories with people all across the world.
In only a couple of weeks Farber has already made friends with students from various places including Germany, Hong Kong, and London. Farber said that all of these students are part of the scholarship program at the academy in Beijing and there are a total of about 30 students studying in the scholarship program.
“My experience has been stellar,” Farber said.
Other than suffering from a little jet lag on her first day of language class, Farber said the teachers are very energetic and have a relaxed teaching style.
Compared to the United States, where classes are scheduled for an exact time whether everyone arrives on time or not, classes at the Beijing academy do not begin until all the students are sitting in class.
“It’s much less formal than I’d imagined, in a good way,” said Farber. “Everyone is attentive and eager to get this difficult language under our belts.”
Only six people make up Farber’s language class. She said that it is a nice change to have small classes opposed to being in the large theater classes at CSUN.
The application process to study abroad in China was easy Farber said. Receiving a scholarship from the Chinese government that pays for tuition, books and all accommodations was definitely worth the paperwork.
One day last year, after stumbling upon a flyer posted in Nordhoff Hall with the words ‘Study Abroad for Free,’ Farber said she could not pass up that kind of opportunity. She wrote a two-page paper about why studying abroad would help her education. She got two letters of recommendation and within a few months she was scheduled for an interview.
“They basically asked me about my paper and my study plans,” said Farber. “Shortly after that I was informed that I was accepted as a scholarship candidate.”
Nerves and excitement jumped through Farber once she knew she would be studying in China, specifically because the scholarship recipients were given little information about what to expect other than the location of the school they were going to attend.
Farber has just begun to study and experience the Chinese culture and people, yet she already hopes to extend her scholarship in order to be able to study in China longer.
“There’s no other education quite like life experiences like this,” Farber said.
Cabello, a 30-year-old CSUN graduate who is now in China studying Mandarin, said her application process was lengthy but well worth it.
Originally Cabello heard about the study abroad program from Su and was interested in what the program had to offer. Like Farber, Cabello is already hoping to stay in China longer.
“I do miss some small things like real coffee and toast, but in exchange I eat the best dumplings I’ve ever had in my life. If I really yearn for American food there is, of course, a MacDonald’s within walking distance,” Cabello said.
Cabello studies Mandarin for about six hours per day in the classroom and just recently bought a bottle of water on her own.
“It seems a small victory, but given that I now truly understand the meaning of ‘language barrier’ I might as well have climbed Mount Everest,” Cabello said.