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21 Dec, 2013

What are Chinese teenagers who go abroad looking for

(Editor:SunZhao, Yao Chun)

Beijing, (People’s Daily Online),  December 19, 2013Decades ago there was a generation of Chinese people who took overseas educational qualifications and found high-paying jobs on their return. They were considered very fortunate people, and dubbed “sea turtles”- returning home to a promising future.

Today most overseas Chinese students were born post-1990 – they are more likely to be referred to as ‘seaweed’- left lying on the beach without much prospect of a good career on their return home. But even though they may not be guaranteed the best of careers in future, their curiosity has motivated them to see what is going on outside of China, to meet different people, and to experience a different life abroad.

To learn, to experience

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“If all I wanted was a stable life or a decent job, I wouldn’t need to go abroad to study at all,” says a post-1990 overseas Chinese student. Now we are starting to ask ourselves what this new generation is looking for overseas; which of their intentions are different from previous generations?
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In 2013, 95% of overseas Chinese students were born after 1990, according to client information from EIG group, one of China’s largest education agencies. “Post-1990 college students tend to go abroad,” says Jin Ran, marketing director of EIG.

Jin Ran explains that these students come in two groups: one is a group who are going overseas in pursuit of higher education – through their educational qualifications they hope to land a promising job in the near future; the other is a group of students who want to enjoy a rich experience overseas and enjoy their new life abroad.

Shan Shan, A post-1990 Chinese student studying in the UK, thinks that studying overseas is a challenge for her. She says: “Part of me thinks that studying abroad means enjoying a new life in a strange environment, including a new campus and new society; the other part feels that studying abroad is about improving myself, my personality, and my character, and recognizing that overseas students are able to learn about a different culture, learn how to solve problems, how to be independent, how to treat other people, how to make friends and how to make the right choices in a new environment. The process of learning is a twin challenge for the student’s EQ and IQ.”

Action is better than inaction

At the China International Education Expo, a high school student who plans to study abroad expressed a passionate opinion: “It will be one of my biggest regrets if I never study overseas. Although some say it is very hard to live and study abroad, I believe it is better to try than never try to at all.”

“The number of Chinese people going overseas to study is expected to exceed 450,000 by year end, and the number of students born post-1990 will keep increasing.” This was the view of an official in international education exchange.

“Post-1990 overseas students are eager to express their ideas,” said an expert from an education institution. “They are ready to display their personality. Their overseas study plans are a reflection of their character and their interests. Moreover, they are quick to learn new skills and languages.”

During the Expo, post-1990 students showed their interest in a wider range of majors. Some of these are unexpected, such as the protection of culture and heritage, or arts and design. Ye Feng, working in international student recruitment at University of Oklaho, said that more Chinese students in their school are beginning to choose their major in accordance with their interests.

Learning something useful and interesting

“I want to learn something useful,” says a voice from a post-1990 overseas students’ forum. “This generation is different from previous generations; most of the post-1990s don’t just want to have a foreign qualification, they are thirsty for more interesting and useful specialties.”

“Post-1990 overseas students tend to think hard about choosing their specialty, and they are more willing to choose an interesting major rather than today’s hot subjects,” says Zong Wa, deputy secretary of the China Education Association for International Exchange.

“Their rational approach to overseas study is one of the advantages of their parents’ foresight. Both post-1990s and their parents are more open-minded, and have more channels to seek information,” Jin Ran confirms.