Through my eyes: How a foreign student sees BU

By Sanmai Gbandi

Graduate student Jie Tang moved from China to America a year and a half ago. He is working toward a master’s degree in Management and Information Systems (MIS) here at Baylor.

The Lariat sat down with him to find out about his transition from life in China to life in America, and more specifically, his transition to Baylor.

Q: How did you hear about Baylor?

A: I used to be an exchange student in Portland State University. At that time, I was applying for graduate school. My adviser told me he had friends in Baylor. He told me I probably can get a scholarship if I applied for Baylor. And then I tried that, and I got a scholarship.

Q: Were there any preconceived notions or stereotypes that you had about America that were proven wrong when you got here?

A: Actually, there are a lot of small differences. Not really big ones. America is very diverse, and people accept a lot of different things, and can be very glad to accept these things. My country has just one, just yellow people. Asian. Only has Asian. So I don’t have any idea about European, and American also black people. So it’s close to a lot of culture. That’s the difference.

Q: As far as the education you got in China and the education you are receiving here, what main differences have you noticed?

A: The courses have more assignments, and the professors pay more attention to the students. The professors try to have more quizzes throughout the semester. In China, typically we just have a final exam at the end of the semester. Students just have one week of really hard work before the final and just try to pass the exam, but in the United States, probably if you do so you will get a pretty low grade. We usually work hard. I try to keep the grade above average, so I need to do more work during the semester. Also, the materials of the courses keep pace with the industry. In China, especially with business, what we are talking about is kind of out of date. Sometimes, we just talk about 100 years ago things. We talk about the theory and no practicality. I’m majoring in business, so I would like to hear something more about the practical and the real business.

Q: As far as Chinese culture and customs go, is there anything you had to give up when you started attending Baylor?

A: I respect my culture and the customs. I didn’t change so much. Sometimes, in China, we are not so open during class. We just listen to the professors talk. In Baylor, if you want to get involved into the class, you need to talk as much as possible. That’s a little different, and I need to make some changes.

Q: How much of an impact do you think international students have on this campus?

A: You know, we just had Chinese New Year last week. There was a notice on our website, and also we have Chinese organizations on campus. So from a Chinese point, I think we have some impact on the campus. And I know a lot of my friends who have American friends who want to learn Chinese, so we are making impacts.

Q: Do you think there could be improvements in Baylor students’ awareness of international things going on?

A: Randy Kondler is my P.A.W.S. (People At Work and Service) partner. I know it’s a very good way because we, the international students, have someone to help them to get involved into their life here. If we can have each international student have a P.A.W.S. partner or a welcome family, it will help a lot. The admissions department can have more parties to get international students and American students together. Just more opportunities to get in touch with each other. If we can have more opportunities to know each other, it can help a lot.

Q: How has coming to Baylor changed your life?

A: Coming to Baylor changed my life a lot. I used to be an exchange student in Portland State University. I used to go to church with a family there, but it was not very fun. I was kind of pushed into it there. When I’m here, the church families are very kind. My welcome family is the church family. They didn’t push me to join to church, to believe in God. They just treated me like I’m their son.

Another impact is Baylor Proud. I like basketball so I pay a lot of attention to our lady and men’s basketball. Even when I leave Baylor, I will pay attention to them and I will support them. I want to say thank you to Baylor.

For the full version of this Q&A, visit