Libmonster ID: CN-1346
Author(s) of the publication: I. SMERDOV

The author, who teaches at a Chinese university, talks about the life of students in the Middle Kingdom.

At the beginning of February, our 13,000 students return to school after the holidays, and the first thing they do is wash and hang clothes and sheets on balconies around the campus. The ratio is directly proportional - the more students return, the more rags hang on the balconies of dormitories.

The only explanation why it was impossible to wash the houses with the help of mothers and grandmothers and bring clean ones is that bed linen and things were left in the rooms, and everything was dusty there during the month of absence of students. But then it is not clear what they were wearing during the holidays, because many students go in sports uniforms of the university all year round, at best, they have another set of clothes.

They wash rags here in unthinkable quantities, and all this in cold water, because hot water has to be bought for 1 zhao (0.1 yuan - 35 kopecks) per bucket, and it is spent on washing. However, since the 2003 academic year in the rooms (with the exception of the upper floors) there was hot water for a couple of hours a day, from 5 to 7 pm. Residents of the upper floors carry hot water home in buckets from the dining room, where it is sold while rice is being cooked there.

Students live for six, seven, or eight people per room, depending on the year of construction of the hostel and the availability of additional amenities, and the cost of accommodation varies slightly.

In fact, in China, no one is surprised by the large number of people living in a room, although the authorities are trying to reduce population density on university and school campuses. So in the new dormitories that spring up in my university like mushrooms after a rainstorm, there are six people per room, but they no longer pay 600 yuan a year for this, like people living in the old buildings, but all 800. This is in a state university, but in Chongqing, in a newly built private college, students for 1100 yuan a year live for 4 people in a room, which is very good by Chinese standards. Non-family teachers live in twos and college employees live in threes and fours, but they don't pay rent, so their not-so-high salaries are somehow offset by a free dorm room.

Here it is necessary to take into account the degree of collectivism and familiarity between the intellectual elite and managers of China, most of whom have lived for six or eight people in a small room since their early school years. After all, from such living conditions comes a completely unusual type of people for a European. I would not say that this contributes to tolerance. In Chinese students, this situation fosters a kind of stupefying collectivism, team spirit and musketeer cohesion: in the sense of one for all, all for one. As a result, the sense of mutual assistance and self-organization for activities that do not require division of labor is extremely developed. If someone does something for everyone, even if they move chairs, it means that you can't be around and fool around, as is often the case in our army or collective farm.

This collectivism will continue for a long time, as the current students will lead the country in 20 - 30 years, and therefore, for the greater half of the XXI century, China will be dominated by managers with a huge experience of Spartan survival in conditions of overpopulation. If in 5 or 10 years there will be enough universities in China for those who want to get a higher education, and the PRC will stop building dorms at such a furious pace, then this tradition of students living together for six or eight people will be preserved forever. As far as I understand from conversations, they are not going to get rid of this tradition, we are only talking about a certain reduction in the number of people per square meter, maybe bringing it to the standards of the late USSR, where three or four students in the dorm room was normal, and five was the upper limit.

The severity of the discipline is impressive: students wake up at 6 am to music that you can't hide from anywhere on campus, then everyone has to go, sometimes half a kilometer away, to their faculty and sign the accounting book that they got up and woke up, then go back for an hour and a half, and as if to do exercises. The latter is for the most enthusiastic (almost everyone just falls asleep at this time), and by eight in the morning - for classes. Individual reading and memorizing of books on park benches is also common in the mornings after getting up before 8 and after 16.30, when many people finish their classes and it is still light outside. In principle, in a warm climate, you can sit outside with a book at any time of the year, which people use. There is a special time when many people come to class just for reading. For attending these classes, you also need to report to the teachers responsible for this or that group.

There is enough time to sleep, especially since there is a midday siesta from 12 to 2.30, when classes resume and last until 5 o'clock, and for many until 9.30 pm. Students from big cities like Guangzhou or Chongqing say they are no longer forced to get up at 6 a.m., but here in the province, discipline is still strong. Yes, and where to go if exactly at 11 pm the electricity in student dormitories turns off-no TV, no computer games. True, you can set fire to a deadly rice vodka with a strength of 50 degrees.

The vast majority of students have mailboxes in their email accounts, but they check them once a week, mostly on weekends when computer classes are full. Even on campus

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they have to pay 1 yuan (3.75 rubles) per hour to use a computer, despite the fact that many live on 5-6 yuan a day, which is spent on food. So someone has to save on computers as well. In general, China is slightly ahead of Russia in terms of the number of Internet users per capita. In 2002, they had 46 people per thousand, compared to 41 for us, and the number of users in China is growing faster, because it is much cheaper. In Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod, you have to fork out 40 rubles for an hour in an Internet bar, and in Chongqing or Meizhou, where I teach at Zhaiyin University, an hour will cost 1.5 yuan, i.e. about five and a half. However, the Internet is also perceived by young people here as a means of entertainment, and not a daily necessity. We have the same picture, i.e. we are somewhere on the same level, which hits my sense of national pride, but I've already got used to it in two years.

In general, student life in China is built on several obvious principles:

A) Living together in a very spartan environment. Rooms are micro-collectives, which, in turn, participate in the competition of micro-collectives - for cleanliness, discipline, academic performance, etc. Students are not encouraged to move out of the campus, rent separate rooms, or even live with their parents if the student is a local student.

B) Group methods of teaching, when the group is constantly present at classes in one composition, and a lot depends on the team and its leaders: from the headman, a representative of the student union, responsible for studying, leisure, sports, etc.

C) Restrictions on individual classes and individual student study work. Reference books are available to everyone, and all are given the same books. A very short period of time is provided for writing individual works. Standard exams and tests are used at all stages of training.

D) The presence of numerous sections and clubs, opportunities for sports.


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I. SMERDOV, China. SIX PEOPLE IN A ROOM // Beijing: China (ELIBRARY.ORG.CN). Updated: 18.05.2024. URL: https://elibrary.org.cn/m/articles/view/-China-SIX-PEOPLE-IN-A-ROOM (date of access: 15.07.2024).

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