Nathania lives in Manado, Indonesia. She was admitted to the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Shenzhen in 2020. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been studying online.
Nathania is now a sophomore at the School of Management and Economics, CUHK-Shenzhen. "I wanted to be reunited with my family in China," said Nathania, "and CUHK-Shenzhen offers me the opportunity to do my undergraduate studies in English, study Chinese at my own pace and experience China".
Nathania never thought her life would change in her first year of high school when some Chinese people knocked on her door. They were looking for her grandpa.
"My grandpa immigrated to Indonesia in 1939. He sent a letter to China every month. Unfortunately, the ties with my family in China were cut down after he passed away," Nathania said. However, thanks to this surprise visit, Nathania's family was reconnected with their lost relatives in South China's Guangdong province.
Before Nathania finished her first year of high school, she came to Guangdong to visit her relatives in the city of Jiangmen for the first time. At that time, she could not speak Chinese, nor could her relatives speak English. She was so eager to communicate with them that she decided to learn Chinese. In her final year of high school, Nathania decided to do her undergraduate degree in China.
Jiangmen is less than an hour's drive from Shenzhen. On her first visit to Shenzhen, she discovered that all programs in CUHK-Shenzhen were taught in English. It was ideal for Nathania because her Chinese level wasn't high enough to follow an undergraduate program taught in Chinese.
"China is growing so fast, but some people don't have the chance to study Chinese," she said. Nathania is happy that CUHK-Shenzhen offers free Chinese classes at four levels (introductory, basic, intermediate and advanced), and gives international students access to the most suitable class for them.
Nathania said, "The Chinese program in CUHK-Shenzhen is really unique. We can choose whether to take only one or all of them."
In this program, international students are only required to complete one semester of Chinese language studies, so they can adjust the pace of their language study according to their total academic workload. For instance, students can choose to do a language course during their summer holiday when they have more time to concentrate on the subject.
They can also personalize their curriculum based on their academic interests. Additionally, undergraduate students do not need to decide on a major for their first academic year. They can freely explore any subject that they're interested in. At the end of the first year, students can apply to one of six schools and decide on a major at that time.
Due to Nathania's excellent academic scores in the first year, she became the first international student admitted to the Global Supply Chain and Logistics Management (Global SCLM) stream in the school's Global Business Studies major.
The major provides two streams. Global SCLM is one of the most popular streams among students at the School of Management and Economics. It is jointly run by CUHK-Shenzhen, the University of British Columbia and Copenhagen Business School, giving students the chance to study in Canada for one semester and Denmark for another in their third academic year.
Nathania loves this global program. It has been her dream to run her own business in Indonesia. To best use her time in Indonesia while studying online, she opened a small company called COCO.LE, exporting coconuts from Manado to China. As she said, "I want to use what I learned in China to support my business."
Rosemary Bai contributes to the story.