In August 2019, the largest group of international students in PKU Shenzhen’s history arrived on campus. They immediately got a taste of the fast-paced and exciting life in Shenzhen and Peking University. International students completed a two-week orientation to get settled before the official start of the academic year on September 2nd.
Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School (PKUSZ) was established in 2001. The vision for the school at its founding was to establish a vibrant international campus grounded in the rich academic tradition of Peking University. The initial batch of international students was under 5 students. In 2019, just 18 years since its founding, the number of international newcomers grew to a record 132 students from 44 countries.
This year, students arrived from 6 continents: From as north as Norway and south as New Zealand—From smaller island nations, like the Dominican Republic, to sprawling Argentina and Russia.
International students of PKUSZ will study in the completely English language programs offered at either the Peking University HSBC Business School (PHBS) or School of Transnational Law (STL). STL’s new students arrived on August 9, while the PHBS students arrived later on August 19. This year, PHBS had an intake of 46 full-time degree-seeking students and 69 exchange students. While STL welcomed 9 full-time LLM degree-seeking students and 9 exchange/visiting students.
The orientation schedules for both schools are full of events to quickly take care of practical life matters and encourage exploration in the city. On arrival days, university staff, bank staff, and workers from cell service providers come together at the PKUSZ campus to get students set up with all the life essentials in one day.
Even more, this year, over 40 enthusiastic student volunteers answered the call to serve the international students. From the moment the students walked into their new school, to when they needed to understand data plans and where to eat, there was a senior classmate close by to gladly help the new member of the Nanyan community.
Following the arrival days, there was a wide variety of events. International students could participate in a shopping trip to IKEA, multiple Chinese survival classes, and a campus tour through Shenzhen University Town and the surrounding area.
Also, for the first time, three Chinese App Workshops were added to the orientation schedule. There is nothing more surprising to outsiders who arrive in China than the convenience that unfamiliar cell phone applications bring to daily life. To truly get students operating like locals in the city, the most essential thing is to have WeChat, Alipay, and all the native applications used regularly. Thanks to these two workshops, over 50 students are ready to start ordering waimai, riding Mobikes, collectingtoo many packages from Taobao, and dashing off from campus in a Didi.
The orientation period is also the perfect opportunity for students to learn how to explore Shenzhen and discover its cultural offerings. For the Shenzhen scavenger hunt, small teams of students competed to get to iconic locations throughout the city in only one afternoon.
Later, on August 25, international students traveled to the Shenzhen Museum to learn about the cultural and economic history of their new home. Volunteers at the Shenzhen Museum gave international students an English tour of the Shenzhen Folk Cultures and Shenzhen Reform and Opening Up exhibitions. The museum tour was followed up with a group dinner in the bustling Futian District at the center of Shenzhen. Students enjoyed a dim sum dinner, a hallmark of southern Chinese cuisine, at the famous chain Dian Du De.
For many, arriving at PKU Shenzhen is an overwhelming and thrilling first glimpse at China. “Even though it‘s a young city, the size of everything is astonishing. But sometimes it seems quite random,” said Alexander Churyukanov, an exchange student from Germany studying at PHBS. “I‘m excited for the upcoming months,” he concluded.
Others were not surrounded by the unfamiliar. Instead, they have accumulated years of living experience in China—studying at PKU is the culmination of a long-held dream. Gillian Mutyambizi, a full-time Management student at PHBS from Zimbabwe, first arrived in China nearly a half-decade ago. After a teacher once told her the dream of studying at PKU was too unrealistic, she is now here.
“Studying at Peking University, China’s most prestigious university, has been a dream of mine since 2016 when I was in my second year of studying for my undergraduate degree in China,” Gillian said. “I turned my dream into a goal, which I worked towards, and now achieved! I’m so excited for what the future holds.” As PKU Shenzhen Chancellor Zhan Qimin, said in the 2019 PKUSZ Opening Ceremony, “We have people here from all corners of the world now gathered in the splendid scenery of our campus.” The new students bring life, diversity, and a wide array of experiences to the international campus. And from here, the directions they can go are limitless.
Shenzhen Scavenger Hunt in Photos
By Nathan Faber