Foreigners study in Xiamen
For those of you looking at China as a destination to pursue your educational interests consider going to Xiamen too! There are a number of notable universities and schools here. Whether for pursuing a short course in Chinese language, a full degree course or a school for expat children, Xiamen has something to offer you.
Activities around Xiamen University
First of all, Xiamen has a nice ambiance that is conducive for learning and student life. Universities and schools have good student facilities and classrooms. Some institutions are right in the center of the city and some are just a bus ride away. Xiamen itself has lots of places to go exploring during the weekends and holidays. Both the urban dwellers and outdoor lovers will be delighted to know that Xiamen has lots of city and outdoor destinations to be explored. The island is also surrounded by lots of beaches where one can do watersports like water skiing, jet skiing and sailing, or just sit on the sand to relax and read a book. There are outdoor clubs like hiking and bicycling groups that would be fun to spend the weekends with while Shopping is also a good way to spend the time. Xiamen has many shopping centres both downtown and further in other districts.
Food and Lodging
Foreign students will also appreciate the variety of food that is offered in campus dining halls. Usually there would be many separate dining halls for different kinds of food, located in different parts of campus. In Xiamen University for example, there’s even a specialised Muslim restaurant serving Halal-certified food located at the 3rd Floor of Furong Dining Hall.
Xiada students' lodging area
If you have time to go outside campus, more food adventures await you. If you think you’ll be missing out on other Chinese food from other provinces then think again. There are regional Chinese restaurants to try out and enjoy such as Sichuan, Cantonese, Northwestern, South Fujian, Xiajing etc. Also, there are restaurants specializing on different South-East Asian, Japanese, Korean, and European food scattered around the city. Of course there are fast food places here too like McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King and a number of Chinese-owned ones. For the more adventurous ones there are food carts that serve snacks and meat wraps on the side roads. Malatang (no translation?) and KaoRou (Chinese Barbecue) stands come out during late in the evening and you can find them concentrated around schools and universities. Making your own food is also very easy since you have many markets, fruit and vegetable stands near campus and lots of groceries too. If you need foreign ingredients and food, there’s always Metro Supermarket where you can get good beef, meat, and ingredients from outside China.
Student accommodation inside campus is fairly good. Universities usually have separate dorms reserved for overseas students. Students often get one roommate unless they pay double or if they are doing their PhD or postdoctoral studies. If you choose not to live inside campus, there are many apartments that you can occupy nearby Universities that are students can opt to live in with the permission of the school. Rooms that are available range from the plain, studio-type ones for those who prefer not to have a roommate to the 3-bedroom units for families or groups of friends who want to live together. Both in-campus and apartments outside are fully furnished, available hot showers, TV, study table and shelves. These rooms are also internet-ready, and most in-campus dormitories already have a connection to the university network. Laundry machines are standard appliances provided in apartments outside campus, but in dormitories there is usually a communal laundry area where you pay a minimal fee to use the machines. Laundry services and dry cleaners are also available around the university area if you wish to have your jackets cleaned.
Jimei University dragon racing pond [photo by Dave Tait]
Courses, degrees and Chinese language studies
There are an array of courses or majors that you can take up in Universities here in Xiamen. There are short language courses ranging from a month to a year. Both Xiada and Jimei University offer excellent language courses for foreigners. I have only experienced Xiada's language course in my first year of study here in Xiamen, but I have heard that in Jimei University students are able to learn faster because of their stringent teaching methods. I think it still depends on the student if he or she works hard to learn the language by immersing themselves in the culture, getting good language partners or by studying hard.
1st day orientation at Xiamen University of Technology
If you wish to pursue a degree course here there are many majors available for undergraduate, masters, doctoral and post doctoral degree. In the case of Xiada, undergraduate courses are done in Chinese and you would have to have a certain HSK (Chinese language examination) level to get in a specific course. For the majors in humanities, a level 6 is required; for management, a level 5; and for the sciences, a level 3 since you mostly use English terms. If you have no background in Chinese language, the university often designs a course wherein the student is required to take up Chinese language lessons for a year or more to get the required HSK level. Masters degree courses and up are given both in Chinese and in English and there are a number of majors that you can choose from in the humanities, management, social sciences, or sciences. Here, you are required to be under an adviser (and laboratory if you are in the sciences) and finish the degree, the required papers and research by your second year.
The 4 major universities in Xiamen open to foreigners
1) Xiamen University (Xiada)
Address: 422, Siming Nan Rd, Siming District, Xiamen
2) Jimei University
Address: 185 Yinjiang Rd, Jimei District, Xiamen
Tel: +86-59 -6181097
3) Xiamen University of Technology
a) Jimei Campus
600, Ligong Rd, Houxi, Jimei District, Xiamen
b) Siming Campus
Address: 394, South Siming Rd, Xiamen
4) Huaqiao University
a) Jimei Campus
Address: No. 338, Jimei Avenue, Jiemei District, Xiamen
Tel: +86 592 6161159
b) Quanzhou Campus (Head Quarter)
Address: No. 269, Chenghua Bei Rd, Fengze District, Quanzhou
Tel: +86 595 22695678
Junior high school and senior high school (secondary school)
Xiamen has a number of schools that offer secondary education (junior and senior high school) suitable for foreigners. For English-based education, there's the Xiamen International School and Manila Xiamen International School where the expats and Chinese who would want their children's education to be done in English are schooled. In Jimei, there is Jimei Middle School -- a Chinese-based middle school where the child needs to pass a Chinese proficiency test.
1) Xiamen International School (XIS)
Address: Jiu Tian Hu, Xinglin, Xiamen, Fujian, China
Tel: +86 592 6256581 +86 592 6256583
2) Xiamen Filipino International School (Manila Xiamen International School)
Address: No. 101 Dong Zhai, Zeng Cuo An, Shiming District, Xiamen, PRC
Tel: +86-592-251637, +86-592-2516375 +86-592-2516376
3) Jimei Middle School (need Chinese test)
Address: No. 19, Aoyuan Rd, Jimei District
Xiamen in attracting foreign students
There are many scholarships available to students who wish to study in universities in Xiamen. You can either apply directly from the university for the university scholarships or apply from the Chinese embassy in your country for the government scholarships. The government scholarships are handled by the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC). Some scholarships even include accommodation and living allowance. For more information on this, you can visit the CSC website or university websites. These are available to all students including language students.
With all these options to choose from, Xiamen is indeed a great place to pursue your studies. The city itself provides a great atmosphere and the quality of education is at par with many top universities and schools in China and Asia.
All in all, Xiamen is a place that has most of the conveniences that you find in most big cities around the world. Student camaraderie is strong among the foreigners and you can easily be part of a group here. There are many opportunities for cultural exchange among other foreign student and also with the local Chinese. Students from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau often have their own dormitory buiding or are mixed in with the foreigners too so it is easy to make friends with them. Almost all universities and schools have what they call an "English Corner". Bigger universities like Xiamen University (Xiada) even have a French and Japanese corner. These are scheduled meetings whom anyone can participate in language exchange. These corners are where most foreigner students meet the local Chinese. It's an opportunity to do language exchange, talk about local and global issues and find new friends.