SW China Minorities University, Chengdu

Kevin Munns


or; The ‘South West University for Nationalities’, if you prefer the official Chinglish name…  don’t start me off on that one...

Minorities Uni.

What do you do when you finish all the classes at university but still don’t feel you’ve learned much?  Go to another one. 

I’m just starting to find my feet at this university, which is right in the Tibetan Area of Chengdu, with all the police cars at the entrances and exits that you might expect.  For the first time I have discovered that nobody else’s internet works properly either, which might explain a few things since my apartment is only a few minutes away. 

This semester I have had classes five times a week, three of which are one-to-one, and  two are the Chinese History course which my 1:1  teacher also takes.   I have the 1:1 classes because after Advanced 2 there aren’t any more basic classes, and it’s also cheaper than the equivalent at Sichuan University.  And I still think  my Chinese is rubbish. 

This is the entrance to the ‘Foreign Students Building’, which is what the yellow bit says in Chinese, and its by the North-Eastern gate of the university, which leads straight out into one end of the Tibetan quarter.  I’m currently collecting anecdotal data on the correlation between number of police I pass on my way home and the number of times my internet gets cut.  I’m convinced, and I only started taking  notes this week. 

Minorities Uni.

Text Box: Dancing      Dentistry      Travelling      Contact Me

The building houses both the dormitory for all the foreign students at the university, and all their teaching rooms and administrative offices for staff.  Very convenient.  It also means its guaranteed that 24/7 there are foreign students wandering in and out, chatting, smoking, riding bikes, listening to music and occasionally playing guitars and singing by the Northeast gate.  Due to this I am also collecting anecdotal data regarding the proportion of female Chinese students which take huge detours to use the tiny Northeast gate. 

This is the main open area of the teaching floor, which is often used by students who have one-to-one  classes. 

On the left of the picture above are the offices of all the staff who organise paperwork and arrange all the visas, etc.

This is where things start to differ a bit from Sichuan University.  All the classrooms have (working) data boards and certainly our history class is PPT presentation and dotted with film clips, maps, etc. 

I clearly remember my teacher in the Intermediate class at Sichuan University giving up with the whiteboard marker in the first week of class and going back to chalk. 

And the Minorities University is cheaper. 

I’m only coming to the end of the first semester, but so far I’ve  been very happy. 

Except that my teacher is always at least 15 minutes late for class. 

I think she’s the exception though, as I usually see Chinese teachers sitting on their own looking at their watches more than I see foreign  students tut-tutting about the time. 

And this history class has been a belter.  (That means really good in British English.)  I’m finally piecing together all the bits and bobs that I’ve bumped into over the last 5 years.  About time too, some people would probably say.

Text Box: If you were seriously thinking about coming to Chengdu to study Chinese, then you might want to have a quick look at how I got on down the road at  Sichuan University.  Three-and-a-half years was enough for me to have a good rant about that place as well.