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Online learning ‘sucks’: China’s ongoing travel ban has crushed this Indonesian student’s dream

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International student Victoria (name changed upon request) from Indonesia made the decision to study in China as her business is related to it. Source: Noel Celis/AFP

Many international students choose to study in China as it’s home to an array of excellent universities, beautiful landscapes and a multicultural environment.

However, the country’s zero-COVID-19 policy has meant ongoing travel bans that have forced students to continue studying remotely for close to two years.

The lack of clear communication from the authorities about their return to China has further exacerbated students’ frustration. In retaliation, many student-led campaigns including protests, interviews with international media and even lobbying with ambassadors have been organised. 

Their efforts, however, have come to nought. Instead, it has been met with radio silence from the Chinese authorities despite the Winter Olympics set to take place in Beijing this February. 

International student Victoria (name changed upon request) from Indonesia made the decision to study in China as it would benefit her work. “I thought it would be a good fit considering a good relationship between China and Indonesia as well,” she says. 

Some of the challenges that she’s faced by not being able to study in China include the language barrier as well as the poor quality of online learning. To boot, many of her peers have left China to study in person in other countries despite not being able to transfer their credits. 

Find out what else she has to say about her three-year online learning experience at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Shenzhen:

What made you choose to pursue marketing?

I’ve been in the export and import business since I was 12. When my teachers told me not to earn money, I thought I could do so while still in school. 

I think to earn money (especially in the business industry), all I need is the knowledge in crafting marketing strategies. 

What made you decide to study in China?

My business is related to the country and I thought it would be a good fit considering the good relationship between China and Indonesia. Even though I have Chinese blood, I can’t speak the language. 

So, that was another reason I chose to study in China — to improve my Chinese language skills. 

Do you think China’s travel restrictions will end soon?

No, I’ve been engaging in online learning for three years now and it sucks.