This week was the most stressful week in Tsinghua. After papers, and exams, take home exams and recordings, Tsinghua felt like a nightmare. For one of the take home exams, I did not sleep or eat anything during the 8 hours long exam. Although I only took 4 classes at Tsinghua, the exams are what matter most during the time at the university.
Unlike my courses at Drexel or maybe other liberal institutions, grades at Tsinghua are typically calculated by a firm final score on the final exam. Everything is practical and contained in one single exam, the final. The library near my dorm has been packed with students and faculty at all times. Students brushing ferociously at their scalp, ripping out strands of hair is not uncommon. The constant attention to all things that poses a screen, and the occasional Chinese student dancing with headphones trying to relieve stress from the final exam period.
For me, my exams consisted mainly of take home exams with a set timeline. Most of them were take home finals with tricky, and difficult answers that absolutely cannot by answered by Siri, or by Googling it. The great aspect of being on exchange with a major like international relations, I began to understand education though student to professor lectures, the criss crossing of ideas, and ultimately trying to find a balance between Chinese and American perspectives. Navigating who I was as an American in a Chinese institution was hard to analyze.
Some days the professor would praise many countries by saying, without those countries China’s economy would not be like how it is today. At the same time, professor has asked students to leave if they cannot uphold the demand for work, time and effort into the class. The lesson of the day is to keep calm and enjoy China, but also be prepared for everything.