The next differentiation I’d like to make is on class organization. Firstly, the classes at the Shaanxi Normal University were primarily very long classes, lasting two to four hours each. From students I spoke to, short classes were not as common. This the opposite the University of Northern Colorado, where the norm is short classes, with a sparse collection of long classes also offered. Also, at SNU, because of the lengthy classes, ten minute breaks, announced by a gong in each building, were common as a way for students to slightly recoup before returning to class. However, as nice as these breaks were, they were easily balanced by the rigor of the classroom, where information is fired at you at 100 mph, and you must retain it all, and very well at that. Similar to every university and school out there, if you don't know the material, you will test poorly, yet, in China, the grading system is nowhere near as lackadaisical as it is in the States, and not prone to the same grade inflation either.
Due to the incredibly large student population in China, in order to do well in school, and ultimately, get to college, you must stand out among the rest. This is heavily apparent in the harsh grading methods of Chinese classes. At the end of the month, during which each student in my intermediate level Chinese class, a three hour class every weekday morning, not a single student scored above an 85%. Don’t get me wrong, in many classes a harsher grading method is necessary, but I was among some of the most studious individuals I met on this trip, and it was interesting to see how everyone scored. Nevertheless, it makes a lot of sense for China to implement such a system, as the schooling is ridiculously more competitive than in the US.
These are some of the primary differences I have seen between these schools, and it was an exceptionally rewarding experience to be able to take an entire Chinese language class in a month at Shaanxi Normal University. I already really miss Xi’an, and my time in the city was absolutely wonderful. I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone interested in different cultures, societies, and learning styles.