The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Chinese student comes to CSUN through ‘2+2 program’

International student Shuanghui Kong is alone in more ways than one.

The junior financial services major arrived at CSUN from Shanghai, China last semester.

“I can make all my decisions,” she said, adding that she’s enjoying her independence in America.

“I don’t live with my parents. I get to live (on) my own,” she said.

That isn’t the only reason why Kong is alone.

She is the first student from Shanghai Normal University to attend CSUN as part of a four-year undergraduate degree program established between the two universities.

Kong, a 20-year-old junior gave herself the American name “Emma,” came to CSUN under the “2+2 program,” a joint education program signed in October 2005.

“I just wanted some change, and I think (it) is a good chance to learn a foreign culture,” she said.

She will leave CSUN in Summer 2007.

The purpose of the program is designed to offer a four-year undergraduate program in insurance for business majors, according to the signed agreement. The program will require students to complete two academic years at SNU as part A and two academic years at CSUN as part B.

The students will receive a degree from both universities.

Part of the program is to invite professors from CSUN to teach specialized courses in economics for a period of five to six weeks at SNU for students who cannot afford to study abroad, Hsu said.

The China Institute is also working on organizing an intensive summer program to bring at least 15 students to CSUN to take business courses as part of their program, Su said.

Kong said the “2+2 program” is helping her with “language skills.” She said the program also helps her gain foreign experience before she starts working for an international company in China.

She applied for the program in March 2005, but it wasn’t until May that she was accepted to study at CSUN.

Kong began attending classes at CSUN in the Fall 2005 before the agreement was signed by both universities, she said. Kong started before the agreement was signed because she had already completed her first two years at SNU. She needed to start CSUN right away to not fall behind her studies.

She said she was inspired to enter the program primarily to improve her English skills because Shanghai is a developing city and many foreign companies want people to be familiar with both English and Chinese.

Kong said her parents were supportive of her decision to study at CSUN.

“They told me if I could do it they could support me,” she said. “They hope I can learn more when I’m young.”

Kong said she enjoys the diversity of students at CSUN, but she misses her friends and the social life in Shanghai. She has made friends – mostly international students, though some are Americans.

In Shanghai, people socialize more at night than in the United States, Kong said. She was surprised during her first weeks at CSUN not to see much activity on the street especially after school.

It is easier to creates friendships with international students, she said.

Kong said she would like to make more American friends because in China friendships are more important than in the United States.

“Friends are more closer to us than our cousins,” she said, adding that the majority of couples have only a single child per family as part of the Chinese government’s “One Child Policy.”

“Most students already have their friends here, and they have jobs,” she said, adding there is not much time for conversation. “We international students come to study and we don’t work.”

She plans to return to China in 2007 after her full term in the academic program ends to work for an international trade company. Kong said her experience in America has persuaded her to return to the states to work on for a master’s degree.

“Shuanghui came as the pioneer for the program,” said Justine Su, international programs coordinator and director of CSUN’s China Institute. “The program is only designed for Chinese students to study here.”

SNU’s priority is to promote and expand programs for students in Shanghai, Su said.

William Jennings, chair of Finance, Real State and Insurance Department, said part of the program is to have more international students come to study at CSUN.

“We want to bring more students,” Jennings said. “It makes the campus more international.”

Under the program, students will receive a bachelor’s degree in business by completing the same courses and requirements as any other student, he said.

Su said it is anticipated the program will have more students participate in the next two years.

SNU proposed the plan to CSUN because some American universities had already developed similar programs that exchange students from China to the United States, Su said.

To provide competitive service in the Chinese workforce, Su said, SNU saw the necessity for Chinese students to be educated in both cultures.

“I think the United States and China are becoming very close partners,” Su said.

Carol McAllister, assistant director of international admissions at Admissions and Records, said the program creates more opportunities for students to study at CSUN.

“I think (it) is important for their education,” McAllister said. “It’s such an advantage for them to go back because they’ll (have) the English skills. They will have a huge advantage in getting jobs.”

“I think it could open more doors,” she said. “It is the first one we created on campus.”

McAllister also said students exposed to American business methods are provided a better understanding, expanding their education.

“Shanghai is the most cosmopolitan city,” Su said. “They see the need of cross-culture for professional people who are knowledgeable about culture and business in both countries.”

SNU sees a need for Chinese students to study in America, and to be exposed to the language and culture for a competitive workforce and employment, she said.

Dong Hsu, a 59-year-old English professor at SNU, said over a recent telephone interview from Shanghai, that the “2+2 program” “will be a good opportunity to broaden (the students’) vision, and to enlighten their minds.”

Foreign companies need people who know the western culture better, and who know how people in the west do business, Hsu said.

Those people would have no language barrier when they speak to foreign clients, Hsu added.

He said if Chinese students study two years in Northridge and attain a bachelor’s degree, they can pursue graduate studies.

“The problem,” with the program, he said, “is that not all students can afford the cost of tuition and fees in American universities.”

Kong said she paid about $3,000-$4,000 a year in China for tuition. At CSUN, she said she pays between $5,000-$6,000 for the Spring 2006 semester. She said she paid more last semester because she took more units.

Despite the cost, Kong said the program is “a good chance for other students to come to the United States, adding that not many young people have the experience to study in a foreign country.

Kong said her parents were supportive of her decision to study at CSUN.

“They told me if I could do it they could support me,” she said. “They hope I can learn more when I’m young.”

Gabriela Gonzalez can be reached at

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