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My First Time in China as a Schwarzman Scholar Class of 2022

Global Affairs
Scholarship
Jun 29, 2022
4 mins read

English



@lujain
from
Jordan🇯🇴
💼 Master's Student: Global Affairs
⏳ Aug 2021 — Jun 2022
📍 Beijing,
China🇨🇳
🗣 English
Student Visa
Schwarzman Scholars
Schwarzman Scholars
🎓university
Scholarship
📍 Beijing,
China🇨🇳
🗣 English
💰 100% Financial Need Met
🤓 200 Students

@lujain is a Schwarzman Scholar with a Master’s degree in Global Affairs from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. Next, she is heading for a PhD at the Oxford Internet Institute in October 2022.

How I discovered Schwarzman Scholarship

From the very beginning, I was looking for non-traditional graduate programs with some focus on China. As a student at NYUAD, I had access to NYUAD’s Student Portal, which had a curated list of fully-funded global awards. That’s where I came across Schwarzman Scholarship for the first time. An alternative option was Yenching Scholars, which I was going to consider had I not been accepted into the Schwarzman program.

The Schwarzman program attracted me due to its focus on experiential learning and leadership alongside the formal Master’s Degree. The diversity of students and experiences at NYU Abu definitely pushed me to be interested in other countries and cultures, such as China. I am also interested in tech, and China gradually became something that was impossible to ignore. All of these aspected fueled my curiosity and set me in this direction!

My Application Process

Official application requirements of the Schwarzman program can be found here.

Application deadline for international students is mid-September, and I started preparing mine during the summer. Schwarzman's application is a lot about writing: there is a Personal Statement and a Leadership Essay where you can show your personality outside of CV and recommendation letters.

In my experience, the following two things are important in order to have a successful application:

  1. Time — the process is very iterative: you write, you go back to it, you edit. So give yourself time and space to reflect and talk to people. Do not rush it.

  2. Introspection — it’s important to understand why you are interested in this program. Imagine yourself a year from now, in Beijing — is this something you would actually enjoy doing? For a prestigious program like Schwarzman, it is easy to get distracted by things like benefits and lose track of how this experience fits into a greater picture of your life.

From an admissions point of view, I believe that leadership experience is something they always look for in the candidates. Interest in China is another important aspect. You are not expected to have engaged directly with China in the past, but your interest needs to make sense and be very clear. What I also noticed is that authenticity plays an important role, especially when it comes to scholarships. Your grades and resume are full of numbers, but the admissions team wants to see an application come to life.

All documents can be submitted online and selected candidates are shortlisted for one round of interviews. Mine was over Zoom, but without covid, they would fly candidates to different countries for in-person interviews.

About the Scholarship

The scholarship is very generous and covers everything: accommodation, tuition, health insurance, flights to China and back at the end of the year. We are also provided with a stipend along with a meal plan.

Class of 2022!🎓🎊
Class of 2022!🎓🎊

My first time in China

I’ve never been to China before, which made the whole experience a lot more exciting. There was something to learn and see every day! I was in Beijing and Shanghai — both very big and diverse cities, so this constant sense of novelty was probably my favorite part about the last year.

Speaking about language, we were required to take Chinese classes for the first semester (out of three). After that it was optional. Although a lot of students at Tsinghua University speak English, everyone in Beijing operates in Chinese, so expect that you would need some level of Chinese to be able to navigate the city. But there is nothing to stress about as translation apps are easily accessible and you generally have mobile data at all times. At the same time, language learning is a very important part of the journey, and to experience China properly, I would definitely recommend taking the time to learn the language. I started learning Chinese right after I got accepted, which was around December.

Academics at Schwarzman Scholars

Schwarzman Scholars have only one major called Global Affairs. Everyone in the cohort is required to take two core classes: Global Affairs and a course on China’s Political, Economic, and Social Reform in the last 40 years. At the same time, we are also required to take mandatory Leadership courses. There is a variety of options to pick from: Leadership in Business, Leadership in Higher Education, Leadership in Public Crises and Emergencies, etc. A full list of courses can be found here.

The rest of the curriculum is filled with electives, so you have the ability to customize your degree. Another important part is a Capstone project, which you can do either individually, or in groups. My academic focus was on China’s politics and history, but also on technology. I took the following classes:

  • History of Modern China

  • China’s Political Culture

  • China’s Foreign Relations

  • Technology Policy in the Developing World

My leadership classes were:

  • Leadership in Public Crises and Emergencies

  • Leadership in Higher Education

  • Leading the Social Innovation in China

Through this mix of classes, I was able to dive into both topics of my interest!

Who would be happy at Schwarzman

Schwarzman program is focused on experiential learning, so if are looking to learn strictly in the classroom, you might not enjoy it as much. Going outside the classroom and exploring China are the foundational pillars of this program. There is definitely a “choose your own adventure” feel with some DYI aspects to it.

And finally, it's a cohort-style program where you are mostly surrounded by the same 120~150 people for the entire year. Even though it's a part of the bigger Tsinghua University, you will still end up living, learning, working and celebrating with the same people.

I think a lot of NYU Abu Dhabi students would be happy here, as NYUAD with its small campus has a similar sense of tight community. But the whole experience was definitely a lot newer for people who came from more traditional Undergraduate programs. Having classrooms on the first floor and dorms on the second floor of the same building — people haven’t experienced that before.

During covid, we were also not able to leave China for the entire duration of the program. In my year, travel was very restricted, but it could be very different moving forward depending on the evolution of the covid policy.



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