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Student Sojourns

Going to university is a milestone in every student's life. Here, the young a adults will share their experiences of leaving their nest for higher studies and a first whiff of independence.

Culture Shock

Higher Education in Pakistan vs. that in China
By: Maria Faheem

Maria Faheem Maria Faheem is an undergrad student of Interior Designing at Raffles University, Beijing

Culture Shock My first visit to China was in 2004 when my father was there for a course of study. At that time, I was merely an explorer, acting as a tourist in this beautiful country. A few years later, when my father began working in Beijing, I was given the opportunity to study in the capital city of the world’s most progressive country. I had already completed my freshman year at Iqra University in Islamabad in Social Sciences. But I undertook a change of field and decided to study Interior Designing at renowned Australian University, Raffles in Beijing. The difference in the systems of the two universities was astonishingly huge. The change in university life was quite overwhelming and I found it difficult to cope with it at first.

My experience in Iqra University was drastically different from that in Raffles. Students in Pakistan, as I experienced, are afraid of their professors and a communication gap exists between them. Barring a few, most professors do not maintain a friendly relationship with their students. Their attitude is not very supportive and creativity is not encouraged. As a result, students find it difficult to find jobs and even internships after they graduate.

Another big problem is that of plagiarism. Students lack the motivation to be creative and pursue research work themselves. Moreover, a lack of research resources also leads to plagiarized work.

Many students also believe that the teachers are biased and favor a few students over others. A lot of unhealthy competition exists in the classroom with the teachers being more inclined towards the bright students and indifferent towards the weaker ones.

Most girls, as I noticed, substituted education with vanity. They happened to be more concerned about fashion and other people’s private lives than their grades, as they believed that they would get married after their bachelors and their husbands would be the bread earners of the family.

The boys, on the other hand, were hardworking but were not motivated as they lacked vision to see a bright future for themselves. The ones from the upper middle class of the society would skip classes but still be passed on to the next level since class-based politics is common in Pakistani universities.

In China, on the contrary, things are quite different. I study in a private Australian University where students are mature and open-minded, whereas the lecturers are polite and respectful. Plagiarism is strictly not allowed and students are encouraged to be creative and taught the right way to do research and create presentations. A healthy competition exists between the students who have high expectations for themselves from life and work hard to achieve their set aims and goals. The students are confident of getting a good job after they graduate and the University helps them find internships and build networks in the corporate world. Overall, in Raffles, there is a light and happy environment where the focus of the students is their studies and I truly enjoy doing that here.

The youth is the future of every country. In Pakistan, the big Universities are progressing and have motivated students as well as trained professionals for teachers. But this trend needs to be more widespread across all universities in Pakistan. The lecturers should be trained to encourage creativity and increase the motivation of the students, all the while treating them as the future of this country. Favoritism and plagiarism must be eliminated. And students should learn to view their studies not as a burden but as a road to a brighter future.