A Tanzanian Student in China


My name is Joan Felix, aged 24 and currently in my final year at CHINA UNIVERSITY OF PETROLEUM, specialising on Petroleum engineering of oil and gas. My study experience being in a foreign land has been extremely exciting, I get to explore on different stuff such as ; multicultural conducts, meeting new societies, learning new languages and specialising on some good courses I would say.


My experience in China has made me note the difference of what it’s like to be at home in your home land and being in a foreign land, some of the rules and regulations out there made me understand the freedom that is present at home, for example; you can’t own a car even when you can afford it and getting a licence there is kind of not easy compared to Tanzania.

You need a working visa and it’s illegal to work without it, like I’ve encountered people who got deported because of an expired “visa”, I could always book my ticket flights months away to holiday seasons just to go home and spend time with family and it’s always been that, I love my country MUNGU IBARIKI AFRICA, MUNGU IBARIKI TANZANIA.

This could sound am a leisure type but on an honest note it is some of the good things you fail to live in even when they seem normal to everyone else, also applying for visa to do a lot of stuff like living there and there are penalties for being late like it could even lead to being deported.


China is one of the most good places with unique features, their language is not too common as English,it’s filled with characters I had a little problem with my Chinese classes to be honest their foods are health based foods , everything about their food is fresh and healthy, well if I’ll be honest it is sweet too depending on which food you ordered, due to their friendly environment, China has attracted foreigners from different parts of the world and that’s the good part when African meet African, Arabs, Americans, Russians, interactions were at its best point to the point that there are some places where Chinese residents haven’t met foreigners so they’d be so surprised to see you around and would want to have a picture with you or some would just be scared I can say.


The greatest things that I happen to enjoy in China was multicultural explorations, people from different parts of the world would share their conducts of their culture, their dress codes in different occasions, the best part that is food, well I loved  the Ethiopian food and coffee like it’s too beautiful without forgetting the Yemen’s tea , it’s like green in color with an amazing taste but served hot, I managed to encounter some good fashion like that of the Papua New Guinea, they are just amazing and all of that combined.


Being in China, as a foreign land we needed representatives, to stand for us and it’s not an easy task since it’s a collective of responsibilities you share with your fellow leaders, on different occasions and events, you need to stand on your place and position, with integrity and participative in both good and bad times alike.

One of the most excited and the most tiresome events was when some were graduating and we had to organise everything on our own without them involved.

Me and some of my senior leaders were assigned on the location, food and the total costs; (the entrance fee , buffet), it was tiring since everyone had their own kind lifestyle with a different kind of affordability but at last it was all made up.

I enjoyed moving around seeking for a good place, taking pictures, deciding and reasoning out to why we think the choice was a good match, I enjoyed calculating the costs and trying to sum up everything, it was too amazing and when I attended I felt happy to see smiles on people’s faces and life in the party, it was so amazing.

I also remember the cultural event that I had to finish my class and rush to our country’s stall because we lead by example, it was just outstanding. I could say that personally I enjoy serving like it feels too good to help others, to stand for others, to work for the sake of their happiness, feels great.


As a petroleum engineer, well I’d say it’s really a good course but you need to be ready for it, doing everything as required and on time, we learn a lot of things, the basis of petroleum productions, how it forms up, how it is drilled out of the ground, a lot of calculations, could be some kind the small calculations but there are a lot, going to labs and seeing what you write on paper look like in real life.

I happen to have a best friend of mine who was a monitor, I could see how life as a monitor and a student sound like but we were of no great difference because we were both leaders and scholars at the same time, I could help her around with the monitor duties which was also fun.

I managed to collect my assignments on time  going to classes that start early at 8 am and some would end at 9pm , felt like I was employed, the best part was that the best students would be awarded with an appreciation award and I thank God I was not bad at my grades that I managed to attain the awards twice till COVID hit us that it was no longer available, but all in all it was an amazing experience on campus, making sure you are a “good student”.


Living in Tanzania especially being born in Dar es Salaam, where life is simple and the weather is just hot, cold days aren’t deadly cold made my life difficult the first few days in China, my first time was during the autumn ends heading to winter, the cold wasn’t favourable, I felt like I was in a freezer for the time.

I hated school at that point because it was extremely cold and I wasn’t a lover of it, I suffered from a terrible flu that I will never forget, praise God a friend came through with a remedy for it, but with time, I eventually got used to it since we had heaters everywhere you go, in taxis, at home, at school and it was helpful, during summer, it gets to be too hot but again am from Dar es Salaam (not originally but born there ) so it wasn’t much of a problem to me and I enjoyed it especially when spring starts and you just know my favourite weather is on its way.

The first time I experienced snow, was during my physics final exam and I didn’t even know what to do because I was sick and I needed to head home,I lived off campus, it wasn’t a good experience and how many would hype it but again like I said , with time it was just like a normal rainy day.


In the first two years in university I lived off campus, well it felt like a grown up who’s independent, I’d go anywhere , at anytime and whatever moment.

I am not going to lie but it was somehow safe for night walks in China so it was so much of a freedom that I never had back home in an African family until I’ve fully grown up as I am now, I was never a going out person like I’d appreciate being in my room all day, but my friend would sometimes opted we could catch up on a movie.

We could go to some restaurants, Mc Donald’s, it was my favourite place among many and many more new places till when in my third year I moved to campus  dormitory life was too much under restrictions. We had a given time to be back in campus, we had locks with face ID entry doors, we had to freak out every moment you’re out of campus because anything can happen and you’ll stay outside until you have your ID with you  but if you have friends outside then you’re lucky but one of the most terrible  behaviours I faced in campus was laziness like I was close to my classes so waking up early wasn’t my thing no more compared to off campus and I’d still make it on time.

Good thing is I was able to do my homework late at night since I was close to classes it was just on the ground floor so at some point it wasn’t a bad idea in campus.

CONCLUSION :- life in a foreign land helped me understand the feeling of being in need of help and being the help to those in need.

I highly value leadership, not because it’s a position of power but a position of dedication, a position of putting things into practise, leading is more than just having a good office to chill and order people around, it’s a position of humility and acknowledgement of the level of people’s dependency on your ability and capacity to bring change, leaders do make mistakes too but a mistake is a learning point to greatness and I’d encourage a great demonstration of what you are made of as a leader of your life, a company, family, institute and all that you’re leading on , aim at bringing change and a movement.


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