Tsinghua University

Back in America, I study at a small liberal arts college in rural New Hampshire called Colby-Sawyer College. Not only that, but my college is also not very well known outside of New England. For my semester abroad in China, though, I am attending Tsinghua University, one of the most urban, most famous and non-liberal universities in all of China. You can think of Tsinghua more or less as the MIT of China, renowned for its math and engineering. China’s current and last president, Xi Jinping and Hu Jintao, are both Tsinghua alumni, and in China being a student here is respected.

Tsinghua University

The first thing I noticed about Tsinghua was how big it is. Tsinghua has approximately 37,000 students, including both under- and postgraduates, and a 980 acre campus. My humble college has about 1,400 total students on 200 acres. The sheer size of Tsinghua and that of the city it is situated in – a city with a population of over 20 million people – shocked me initially. At my college if you want to go to the movies you need to have a car to go to another town. Here at Tsinghua they have everything because they are located in one of the world’s largest cities.

There are merits and reasons for living and studying in both locales, but Tsinghua is a great change for me, I think, because it serves as a reprieve from the smallness of my college back in the USA. I can experiment with big city life and foreign living at the same time!

One of the coolest things to me, being a creative writing and philosophy double major, is their library system. Tsinghua has two major libraries, the Old Library and the newly built Humanities Library, and their collections amount to almost four million items!

Tsinghua University

This means that if you want to read something, Tsinghua should have it. And if they don’t, you can do an inter-library loan, just like in the States.

By far my favorite aspect of studying at Tsinghua is the Qing Dynasty gardens situated in the western part of campus. Tsinghua was actually built on the former property of a prince from the Qing Dynasty, and the gardens have been preserved, as is apropos. This is a great place to go and read a book, or just to bring some food like some delicious baozi to eat and think. If I’m feeling particularly skillful I may even try to strike up a conversation with some of the locals who come to the gardens with their loved ones to enjoy Chinese garden culture. It is a very tranquil place in the midst of the busy university and city, and it is here that thought blooms.

Tsinghua University Qing Dynasty gardens

Aaron Records  is a student at Colby-Sawyer College and a TEAN Featured Blogger. Aaron is currently studying abroad with TEAN in Beijing, China.