Why I Study in China not America

In September 2013 I arrived in Beijing, China on route to Ningbo University. It’s been two years since I moved to China, and this is the best decision I’ve ever made. So why did I choose this radical move from South Africa to China. Well it’s not because of BRICS, the group of developing countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa all form part of. Why did I move to the country with the biggest population, and maybe the worst pollution on the planet?

OPPORTUNITY!

RT Thomas with Chinese model in Ningbo Fashion Fair 2013China is not America, and the Chinese dream is not the American dream. Everyone who’s ever watched a Hollywood movie probably dreams of living in America. Not me! My journey to China started more than 10 years ago when I first read a book, Real Power: Business Lessons from the Tao Te Ching. This book is a beautiful synthesis of businessman James Autry’s servant leadership interspersed with quotes from the Tao Te Ching ??? translated by Stephen Mitchell. There was something beautiful and yet profound about the wisdom from ancient China and it’s only now I’m able to better appreciate it.

The rise of China is undeniable over the last 30 years, when nobody was looking. According to the Worldbank, the number of Chinese living in dire poverty fell by 662 million between 1980 and 2008. To add another black eye to America, in 2014 China over took the US as the world’s largest economy according the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Of course I may continue to quote number after number of China’s rapid growth until pigs learn to fly but that alone will not make my argument more convincing.

On a more personal note I wanted to start over. After more than five years of being self employed, I didn’t achieve some of my goals for income, romantic relationships and so on. In 2012 I ended a very difficult relationship with a woman whom I had been living with in Johannesburg. I sold my house and decided to take a year off to figure out what the hell I wanted to do with the rest of my life. This is called getting perspective and not beating yourself up for mistakes.

A few years earlier I was seriously looking at teaching English in Thailand. However, after reading about some of the race issues non-white i.e. non-European male teachers faced, I caned this idea. Now after a trip to Phuket in Jan 2014, I know Thailand is much more fun for holidays than working.

Anyway, after applying for the Chinese Government scholarship in early 2013, I finally received my admission letter from Ningbo University around July. This means I had only two months to wrap up my business and prepare for a move to the Middle Kingdom.

Even though there was so many reasons to stay in South Africa, like family, friends, good food, weather, the whole situation was all too familiar and I wanted to go as far away as possible. Previously I had lived and worked in London, England and Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. So I’ve always considered myself a risk taker because I had no children to hold me back.

So on Sunday, 1 September 2013 I boarded my flight to China via Dubai on Emirates Airlines. I arrived in the Chinese capital, Beijing, on Monday, after 10pm and basically two days of flying.

Here’s the top 5 reasons I choose China over America:

  1. China is the land of opportunities (certainly for the next 100 years).
  2. Chinese people are don’t care about religion and politics.
  3. Chinese Taoist philosophy (Yin / Yang) places harmony and balance above all else.
  4. China has the best high speed rail network in the world, and public transport is cheap & reliable.
  5. Chinese girls are soft and feminine.

As China continues to rise, there’s opportunities abound. Chinese people are hungry to learn more about the outside world and I’ve become the defacto South African business expert in Ningbo. Even though China has a Communist party, religion is not banned as it may have been in Communist Russia. I’ve been to church several times and was pleasantly surprised how easy it was. In fact some Chinese are curious about religion, and ask good questions about Christianity and so on. For the majority of people, they only go to temples on very important days of celebration like Spring Festival.

Real Power: Business Lessons from Tao Te Ching by James AutryAs a Tai Chi Chuan practitioner since 2002 I’ve come to appreciate the Taoism / Daoism and the Tao Te Ching even more since moving to China. It may not be quoted widely but people certainly act accordingly. I’ve now been to Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou and some smaller cities using the high speed train. Since I’m not able to book and buy my tickets it’s even easier to travel around China. Finally what can I say about Chinese girls that haven’t been said before. They are like a dream compared to the Westernised, materialistic feminists women.

If you want to join me in China, here’s some basic information and Scholarship Conditions before applying on the China Scholarship Council website. The Chinese Government provides the following:

  • Registration and tuition,
  • Shared accommodation in the international dormitory on campus,
  • Living allowance:
    • Undergraduates and Chinese language students: CNY 1,400
    • Master’s degree students: CNY 1,700
    • Doctoral degree students: CNY 2,000
  • Once-off settlement subsidy provided to new students after registration
    CNY 1,000 for new students who will study in China for less than one academic year.
    CNY 1,500 for new students who will study in China for one academic year or more.
    – Medical insurance
    – Once-off economy train ticket from airport to institution (for first time arrival in China and final
    departure)