【中国日报】International mindset benefits students, learning
Six years on, Van Sormakara from Cambodia still remembers his first day in China - "It was a rainy day. I headed for Chongqing University carrying my luggage and my dream."
Sormakara studied Chinese language international education for two years at the university in Southwest China's Chongqing city. During this period of time, he mastered the four tones of Chinese, tasted spicy food and hotpot, competed in Chinese speech and recital contests, and made friends from around the world.
Such are the experiences of many international students that attend Chongqing University.
After returning to Cambodia, Sormakara worked at the Cambodia-China Friendship Association, witnessing more Chinese and Cambodian cities become sister cities. He said he wants to help promote exchanges between the two countries.
Italian student Lorenzo Buttarello is set to graduate from Chongqing University in July 2020 with a master's degree in business administration. He said the academic atmosphere at the university is inspiring, with a complete educational system of thesis, investigation and discussions. In his spare time he likes to immerse himself in Chinese culture, learning tai chi and kung fu.
Olha Verdi, a 23-year-old international trade major student from Ukraine, said she "fell in love with the university at first sight" because of its mountainous landscape and green forests.
As a demonstration base for international student education in China, Chongqing University has welcomed foreign students from 144 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Japan and Singapore.
The university welcomed 1,706 foreign students in 2018, with the number expected to reach 2,000 by the end of this year, data from the university showed.
Zhang Zongyi, principal of Chongqing University, said it expects to welcome more international students with an improved educational and service system, on the way to building a world-class university.
The university now has 17 degree programs taught in English, two innovation and entrepreneurship bases for foreign students and 1,184 teachers with overseas experiences.
Zhang said the university will hire more international teachers, open more English-teaching courses and create a more international environment on the campus.
He added it plans to enhance cooperation with top 100 universities in student education, teacher visits, scientific research and commercialization of research results.
As the university is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, it plans to build cooperative educational institutions with Queen's University Belfast from the United Kingdom, and the National Aviation University from Ukraine in engineering, and the University of Sheffield in construction.
The six-year-old Joint Co-op Institute of Chongqing University and the University of Cincinnati has excelled in training students in a diverse cultural environment and with cooperative work experiences.
Xu Jun, director of the office of international affairs at Chongqing University, said the university attaches great importance to international exchanges.
It had signed 212 agreements with 189 universities and scientific institutes from 30 countries and regions as of 2018, including 46 global top 200 universities, up 383.3 percent than 2014, data from the office showed.
Besides welcoming overseas students, it also encourages Chinese students to go abroad. As of December 2018, 3,712 of its students had studied overseas, up from about 1,500 in 2017, according to Xu.
The university provides financial support from 3,000 yuan to 30,000 yuan ($421 to $4,211) per person per year to study overseas, adding up to about 16 million yuan in total in 2018.
The goal, is to "help students to have an international mindset and improve skills in all aspects", according to Xu.