Today we visited the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) on the outskirts of Beijing. CUFE is one of the top universities in China, being incredibly selective and difficult to be given admission. To even be considered, one must place in the top 1000 in their region on China’s national college placement exam. Everybody there was smart to say the least, and we were lucky to be able to hear a lecture there.
CUFE has easily the best college library that I have ever seen. I was immediately taken aback by the open design of the library. Every floor can be seen from the ground floor, and there is so much natural light allowed in. Our tour guides told us that Chinese students love going to the library, even if they have nothing to do. This obsession with the library is especially seen with the electronic seating system. Students must reserve seats by using one of the library’s seating terminals, and the seating is strictly enforced. In Hillman library at Pitt, there is no e-seating whatsoever and it is first come first serve, but there isn’t as much of an obsession with school libraries in the US as it is in China.
One of the big takeaways from the visit was the differences in the Chinese college system. Chinese schooling is very much more high pressure than it is in the US. Chinese students work on 10-month semesters where they take upwards on 11 courses at a time. They are at about the same number of credit-hours per week at US schools, but it also makes finals week an absolute nightmare for them. Having to take 11 finals in a single week plus studying for them is a ton of work to do. It also doesn’t help that they have a physical education requirement. Every semester students must take a PE course that is intensive, and the teachers are not afraid to fail their students if they do not meet up to the school’s difficult standards. Most people fail their PE courses. I am very glad that I do not have to take those courses and do well in them
The reason that we went to CUFE was a lecture on big data, which was interesting. The professor, who concentrates in studying big data and marketing, broke down what big data is and how it is currently used today. I felt that in some parts that he was over simplifying things, but I also understand since he was trying to give us basics of what an entire department devotes itself to. Nonetheless though, the lecture gave a decent understanding of how big data is a powerful marketing and data collection tool.
Easily my highlight of the day is discovering the portrait feature on my phone. Portrait mode allows for my phone to take photos of people that are then focused in post-production automatically. This creates high-quality photos without the need for an expensive camera. I discovered this during our tour of the library and was able to snap a picture of Jake that came out gorgeously.