Editor’s Note: This is Rachael Amoah from Ghana. She is currently enrolled as a Master’s student at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics (SAA), having started on September 10, 2021. She chose to study in China because of the scholarship, language learning opportunities for foreign students, and the advanced technological facilities.
Rachael is studying Mechanics with Professor Ma Wei as her supervisor. The first two semesters she had here were amazing; she learned a lot, made many local friends, and improved her Chinese proficiency. SJTU is the best place to prune and bring out the originality of students and she recommends it to anyone aspiring to join us. Finally, Rachael hopes to have a smooth second year as she begins her research on the improvement of noise identification and localization technology in turbofan engines.
China and Science
China’s development in science and technology has a long history dating back to the 1990s, during which time great minds were grasping what Calculus was all about. Rachael comes from a country where there are many “made in China” products. That’s a long-lasting connotation in the mind of every Ghanaian or even Africans as a whole. Rachael had talked with her friends that why almost everything was made in China and they found that this country has great influence upon African nations even the whole world with its smart innovations. She had never imagined a person travelling underground in minutes to wherever they wanted to go until she came to China and experienced it in person. The high-speed trains running all over the country bring more convenience to people’s lives in big cities like Zhenjiang, Nanjing, Suzhou, and Shanghai. Taking the trolleybuses would make her feel as though she was dreaming because it felt like there was no movement, yet the vehicle was in motion.
Fun and Study Life at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU)
Life at SJTU has been awesome so far, and Rachael has enjoyed her time here as a Master’s student in Mechanics of Turbomachinery since September 2021. She has met some great teachers who actively engage students in innovative academic work and research, giving practical importance to concepts and on-site visits. The life of a Masters’ student is extraordinary, unique and nothing like that of a bachelor’s student. School in the first semester was tiring and nothing seemed to work. It was through the struggles that she learned to grow and forsake some old habits she had developed as a bachelor student. She learned a lot from her teachers and local friends about how to be independent, though it was difficult. More focus leads to more discoveries and more discoveries lead to more innovation. This is what Rachael learned at SJTU. The school trains her to be confident in herself and useful to the academic community. Rachael is longing to know who she will become by the time she graduates from this reputable institution in China. She learned a lot from these knowledgeable teachers at Lingang Campus. The Turbofan Engine Testing and Verification Center at Lingang Industrial Park of Pudong New Area was founded in 2011, three years after the school of aeronautics and astronautics and the school of mechanical engineering were founded. This engineering institute offers all the intellectual and technical aid for national aeroengine advancement. During the visit, she was introduced to some aero-engine facilities like the Fan/Compressor Aerodynamics and Acoustics center, and the Fan/compressor structural integrity and reliability facility unit.
Class Visit to the Turbofan Engine Testing and Verification Center in Lingang Campus
Feel a Chinese university’s traditions on campus
There were several interesting activities that SJTU organized for international students, one of which Rachael most appreciated was the international student cultural activity. A fixed schedule, including free lunch and transportation, was organized for international students of SJTU as part of the cultural and historical activity. She learned a lot about wine making, the history and growth of SJTU, Peking Opera, Painting and more. The group was made up of foreign students from Africa, Asia, and North America. Rachael learned that Peking Opera started in the 18th century that synthesized music, dance, and art. It has around 200 years of history highly valued by Chinese people. As part of a face-painting activity, they listened to some typical Peking Opera music, and it was really fascinating! They have special names for all the characters, and they have deep meanings for most of the features, even down to the colors used. They have four main characters: the 生(sheng) who assumes the male role, the 旦 (dan) the female role, the 净 (jing) the face painted male and lastly the 丑 (chou) the clown male. This she thinks is very artistic.
They also went on some tours around the university to learn about the history of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the founding fathers, trail blazers of modern education and influencers, as well as detailed information about the chronology of major modern colleges/universities in China with roots in our reputable university.
SJTU Minhang Campus is a bright and lively campus rich with historical and cultural monuments. The campus is huge! There are more than 10 gates spread across the campus and Rachael thinks she still needs some time to explore it thoroughly. Nanyang Beiyuan, a beautiful dormitory for international students, provides great living conditions and has a convenient mall and a canteen below. There are another four campuses of the university, each with their own characteristics and splendor. In summary, she would say that SJTU has enough room to accommodate anyone with potential who wishes to make a difference in the world.
Experience with Chinese food culture
On October 1st 2020, Rachael got the opportunity to visit a Chinese family on her friend’s birthday. The highlight of the birthday celebration was the making of Jiaozi (dumplings). One thing she learned that day was that, to the Chinese, cooking is not just a necessity for life but an “art”, which is exactly how she believes most Chinese view food and cooking. The Chinese dumpling, jiaozi, is a staple food in China. She personally loves it, especially when made fresh! They come in different types: boiled, steamed, pan fried, deep fried or deep boiled. To the Chinese, eating jiaozi is a symbol of celebration saying, the old year is nearing the end and the new one, filled with happiness, is about to start. The picture below shows a snapshot of jiaozi making Rachael took with a family.
Jiao zi making on October 1st 2020, in Nanjing City
Thanks to her supervisor Professor Ma Wei for his support and many thanks to her wonderful coordinators Mr. Gao and Ms. XU for their patience, guidance, and encouragement. Rachael hopes to continue to have a wonderful time in the coming few years at SJTU.