The Triumphs and Challenges of Chinese Students in American Universities

More often than not, American students entering college feel a sense of anxiety and anticipation as they confront a way of life that is seemingly novel to them. However, this anxiety is diminished by the things that are not novel, namely the language, culture, and mannerisms that remain consistent throughout America. Some students though take the brave step of attending university outside of their home country, for these students the transition to university life is as novel as it could be.

In a recent post on the Asian Review of Books, Peter Gordon reviews Yingyi Ma’s new book, “Ambitious and Anxious: How Chinese Students Succeed and Struggle in American Higher Education,” which analyzes the experience of Chinese students at American universities. In her book, Ma dispels many stereotypes about Chinese students, but in particular she tackles the misconception that Chinese students who attend American universities have stupendous wealth. In fact, many Chinese students who attend American universities come from more modest backgrounds. Ma also describes the immense stress and anxiety that comes with being an international student. To this point, Ma recommends that American universities do better at including Chinese students in university social life.

This all brings to the forefront questions of inclusivity. It is important to ask if we, here at Boston University and the Core Curriculum are doing enough to facilitate a smooth transition for all our international students. How can we in our daily actions make people feel a little more included today, despite their different background and heritage? This is what we must ask ourselves.

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