Since March, China’s borders have been shut to more than half a million international students. Without a clear indication on when they can return and the added concerns of the new Omicron variant, it’s most likely students won’t get to set foot on campus until next year.
No one knows exactly when next year. Kojo (name changed upon request), a food science and engineering student from Ghana, is over this prolonged stress caused by China’s borders. Practical work is imperative to get his degree — as such, he’s decided to transfer from Dalian Polytechnic University to a university in another country that would allow him to do so.
Meeting people who came from China to my country as tourists, just for fun, while I’m unable to go to China to pursue my PhD and take back the life I built there after many years of sacrifice makes me sick. It is unacceptable, is our life a joke?#takeusbacktoChina
— Pietro (@Pietro40914291) November 26, 2021
We caught up with him via email to learn more about his frustrations with China’s borders and his decision to transfer.
Where does your interest in your course come from?
I’m passionate about food science and engineering since my home country (Ghana) is one that depends mainly on agriculture. However, we don’t have enough factories and food-processing plants to help us preserve fresh foods.
This is why I decided to study in the food science field to gain knowledge and help solve this problem.
What made you choose to study this in China?
I chose to study in China because it’s the processing hub of the world. I thought studying there would help me gain more awareness and knowledge I need to help my country.
To further add, China’s tuition fees (even for international students) is affordable. So far, I would rate the teaching pretty well because the teachers are trying their best with theory aspects despite the current challenges.
— Takemebacktochina (@MasterVodro) November 22, 2021
What obstacles do you face as a stranded student dealing with China’s borders being closed?
The time difference really worries me and affects my studies. To add to that, understanding certain things in certain topics has become really difficult due to the online nature of the classes.
With China’s borders remaining shut, what more should be done for stranded students?
The only thing that can help us (students) is for the country to open up. China’s borders need to reopen so students who have a lot of practical work can resume and excel. My uni is making an effort as they understand the situation so they don’t press us about tuition fees.
Although classes take place in an online format, they’ve given us scholarships to help us ease our burdens.
What backup plan do you have?
My backup plan is if by next year China’s borders don’t reopen and the situation doesn’t change, I will transfer to another country.
What would you advise prospective students who want to study in China?
I would advise them to consult a lot and research before applying because being stranded and frustrated is not something I wish upon anyone.