Thursday, 12 March 2015

International Students Find Ideal Place For Study In China

Updated: 2015-01-23 13:07
By Zhu Lixin(China Daily USA)

More and more international students are coming to China to study, but few take science and technology subjects, as many fear the language difficulties will be insurmountable.

At the University of Science and Technology of China, however, dozens of international students have risen to that challenge.

One such is German Vogel, a doctoral candidate from Chile studying nuclear science at the university.

Ideal venue

It is only half a year since Vogel began his doctoral studies at USTC, but he learned of the university's renown in nuclear science years ago, while studying for his master's degree at the University of Tokyo.

Vogel's specialization is fusion energy, and he said USTC is a leading institute in the field.

"To produce energy, we plan to build our own sun or a kind of small star to use as an energy source. It has a very high temperature, several times higher than the sun," he said.

Scientists have to be able to confine the energy source, and research indicates the only way to do that is to keep it contained within a magnetic field.

As such technology is very complicated, scientists have not yet been able to keep items stable and confined in such a magnetic field.

The challenge is so complex that many countries have united to try to solve it, including the United States, the EU, Russia, Japan, China, India and South Korea. The joint project is called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, which was proposed in 1985 and started three years later. The project requires billions of dollars of combined investment from the countries.

In 2006, USTC, which is home to the National Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory of China, joined the project and has focused on the design of the magnet.

Vogel said he is lucky to find the ideal venue at which to do the research that will occupy him for the next few years.

"I will be focused on a very complicated experiment, which requires a lot of hard work and the most cutting-edge facilities," he said.

Mastering language

Ammar Hawbani from Yemen has been studying at USTC since 2005, after he passed the college entrance examination in his home country with a very high mark.

As one of Yemen's top students, he was awarded a national scholarship and came to China for his university study.

After spending one year in a normal university studying Chinese, Hawbani began studying information science and technology at USTC.

In his first year at the university, Hawbani said, he found it very difficult to follow the Chinese-speaking teacher in such courses as physics. With a lot of hard work, he passed most of his exams with high marks but still failed his physics courses.

"Starting from my second year, my Chinese improved very much and I got accustomed to the courses," Hawbani said. He started to catch up with his classmates in his second year and surpassed most of them in his junior year. The language is no longer a problem for Hawbani, who spoke fluent standard Chinese in his interview with China Daily.

Hawbani said he enjoyed being at the university so much and he chose to stay for further study after attaining his bachelor's degree in 2009.

He is now a doctoral candidate working on wireless sensor networks. His current study program is supported by a national scholarship from the Chinese government.

Vogel said he had similar language difficulties in Japan before coming to China, so knew quite well how to cope with the situation.

The Chilean student said his experience in Japan made him realize how important it is to have a good grasp of the local language.

Studying Chinese mostly by himself, he has achieved a level where the language is no longer a major obstacle for his studies. 

In this first year of his doctorate study, Vogel has three physics classes at USTC. Two are in English, taught by internationally prominent professors.

Vogel said he is "kind of a geek", but wants to learn more about the culture of his host nation and to make the most of the opportunities he has been given at USTC.

Fan Qiong contributed to the story

Part of a linear particle accelerator in the National Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, based at USTC.

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