A Day in the Life of a Business Student in China

In the business world, all roads lead to China. And within China, Shenzhen is one of the most dynamic cities, a whirlwind of economic development and technological advancement. At the heart of the financial flows between east and west, it’s no surprise that business students are flocking to study here. 

Studying in Shenzhen, it’s possible to see the business practices you will study in class play out just outside of campus. With the city’s investment-friendly policies, futuristic landscape, and innovative vibe, Shenzhen has the world’s 8th largest stock market and over 14,000 high-tech companies. Business students in this environment have the opportunity to network, visit, and intern in this thriving financial ecosystem. Adapting to the Chinese language and culture can be a huge asset that opens more doors of opportunity. 

What does a day in the life of an international business student in Shenzhen look like? Hear from two current students at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen (CUHK-Shenzhen), one on campus and one taking online courses. Studying business at a university like CUHK-Shenzhen opens the door to endless academic and professional opportunities. Imagine yourself studying business here for a day!

Daily Life: Adapting to a new cultural environment

Waking up in your dormitory on CUHK-Shenzhen’s campus, you might be surprised to hear birdsong and wind through the trees. Despite its location in a bustling Chinese city, CUHK-Shenzhen has nonetheless built a green campus with “mountain, tree and courtyard” — traditional Chinese design principles that emphasize fusing environmental features with modern dwellings. The natural atmosphere is the perfect backdrop for a day full of inspiring study and hard work.

Before class, you might join your friends from your dormitory for a bite of breakfast at one of the campuses’ dining halls, or stop by the convenience store for a snack as you wait for the shuttle bus to take you across campus. If you’re an early bird who likes to get moving, CUHK-Shenzhen offers plenty of facilities to exercise both your body and your mind: swim a few laps at the campus’ Olympic-sized swimming pool or get a head start on the day’s reading in the library or student center. 

Attending Classes: Rigorous Skill-building Online and On Campus

Shenzhen offers countless opportunities for business students who are willing to put in the work to succeed. CUHK-Shenzhen is the perfect environment for academically-minded students who take studies seriously. Most of the students were top graduates of their high school and continue to push themselves to prepare for the fast-paced business world of Shenzhen.

“The competition is quite fierce at CUHK-Shenzhen,” said Class of 2024 student Jane Lim Chun Jia. Though “all students here at CUHK-Shenzhen are very excellent,” she is particularly impressed by the ambition and dedication of her Chinese classmates. 

The emphasis on collaborative learning both mimics a business environment and pushes students to do better. Class of 2022 Marketing and Communications student So Ry Park from South Korea finds working on projects with her peers a gratifying challenge. “Competition is high,” she said. “If your priorities are somewhere else, you might fall behind.”

As China’s economy grows and world trade becomes increasingly interlinked, business students in Shenzhen are afforded a golden opportunity at this moment in time. Studying in Shenzhen allows students to deeply study business and financial strategies between China and the West with other entrepreneurial students and world-class professors, and to put their knowledge into action.

On campus, So Ry has studied statistical analysis, how to create integrated marketing campaigns, and how to craft a business plan for companies at different stages of development. She also has flourished in her interpersonal skills, able to grow as a leader and communicator through the demands of coursework. She has learned the importance of diverse perspectives when tackling international business issues: “I personally try to keep my team diverse, not only in terms of nationality but also skills, so it’s always a challenge to know each of my group members and create synergy.”

For online students, coursework is just as engaging and rigorous. Despite the difficulties of mixed mode teaching, professors make an effort to equally engage both their on campus and online students. Jane, who is studying Finance remotely from her home country of Malaysia, is truly “satisfied with the quality of the online courses.” 

“The professors engaged well with both the audience,” Jane said. “They sometimes might challenge us with difficult questions which help us develop our critical thinking skills.”

Her professors also offer Zoom office hours, so online students aren’t left behind. 

One popular class you might take at SME is a Case Studies course taught by Professor Hong, So Ry’s favorite course. “It was very challenging but very fun. It is where I learned a lot [about] being future-oriented: Learning to see the big picture first and then draw the road map to it.” 

Jane’s favorite course so far is Stakeholders’ Management and Business Sustainability taught by Professor Hao. She was deeply inspired after learning about the social and environmental impacts businesses can have: “This course has broadened my horizon … Now that I know about the importance of sustainability, I would like to create a positive impact on society through the funds I will manage.” In addition to this new goal, Jane dreams of starting a business consulting firm with a focus on environmental sustainability and positive social impact through the financial sector. 

Studying Chinese: Make Chinese Friends and Explore Shenzhen

Aside from business courses, you’ll also study Mandarin Chinese. While some students only complete basic Chinese studies, advanced Chinese language skills can open many doors both during your studies and after you graduate! Foreign students are highly sought after in the Shenzhen market, but those with a high Mandarin Chinese proficiency are particularly excellent candidates for both Chinese and international firms. 

students practicing calligraphy- study business at CUHK ShenzhenSo Ry is humble about her Chinese level, but is grateful for the opportunities it has given her: “Being able to speak some Chinese has allowed me to travel by myself in China and has made it easier to meet local students. I’ve found a local friend for language exchange. As we’re both preparing for our respective language exams, she teaches me Chinese and I teach her Korean.”

For virtual students, CUHK-Shenzhen offers excellent Mandarin Chinese study online. Jane attended an advanced Mandarin course where she wrote essays and prepared presentations fully in Chinese. “After attending the Mandarin class, my Mandarin has become more fluent,” she said. “I can communicate with the Chinese students using Mandarin.” This knowledge has helped her network with fellow Chinese business students in extracurricular business competitions and conferences.

Intern and Work in Your Field in Shenzhen

While Shenzhen is a beautiful city in which to live and study, one of the biggest benefits for business students is the wealth of internship opportunities. Amidst your study schedule or during vacations, you will have your chance to work in the thousands of Chinese and international companies which operate out of the city.

International students with diverse backgrounds and language abilities are sought after by China’s biggest companies like Tencent, Huawei, Alibaba Group, and Bytedance in addition to international firms like Cisco, Apple, Deloitte, and Accenture. You’ll have the option to intern at the world’s biggest companies right in your own backyard.

So Ry has completed multiple internships at various companies across Shenzhen, including the New York-based company Fried Rice and the International Admissions Office and Communication and Public Relations Office at CUHK-Shenzhen. She also participated with a team in the 2021 Regional Hult Prize Challenge, another opportunity where CUHK-Shenzhen students can prove their business acumen in a rigorous competition with other young entrepreneurs. 

Not even Covid-19 has stopped CUHK-Shenzhen’s motivated business students: Jane participated in two case competitions in 2021. During both the AMSIB Challenge in March and the Open CNxSG Asia-Ready Exposure Programme in August, Jane worked with students across China and Southeast Asia. Through this, she was able to network with colleagues from Singapore and China in addition to tackling sustainability issues like the future of food security. 

Preparing for the Future

After a long day of classes and work for your internship, join your business classmates in preparing for the day ahead and discussing future plans. 

Business students are exposed to knowledge and opportunities from the specific conditions of Chinese-Western economies, all of which have helped students like So Ry develop the fundamental skills necessary to build a business. 

“Living and studying in China has opened me to new opportunities,” she said. “Also, I’ve been learning to develop the appropriate ways to communicate with different people.” CUHK-Shenzhen has taught So Ry creative strategies to connect with diverse groups like investors, colleagues, Chinese, and foreign nationals. 

So Ry recommends students who are passionate about Chinese culture and language to check out CUHK-Shenzhen. “As China continues to grow in the business world, it is important to learn more about it and find your role in building the relationship between China and the rest of the world,” she said. “You’ll be able to discover it by interacting with our students, taking our business courses, and interning at major companies in Shenzhen.”

Students who are open-minded, have a desire to learn and interact with various cultures, and are ready to meet and overcome challenges will find themselves in good company at CUHK-Shenzhen. “The student should learn how to deal with varying opinions and ideas, and remain respectful at all times,” said Jane.  “Even during stressful times, [you] should face them optimistically.”

See yourself studying at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen! View available programs, requirements, and application deadlines right here on China Admissions. 

Still undecided? Read more about life at CUHK-Shenzhen:

Explore CUHK-Shenzhen’s Beautiful Campus
8 Reasons Shenzhen is the Best Place to Study in China
Study at world class university in China’s Silicon Valley: CUHK, Shenzhen

Savannah Billman has a master's degree in Chinese Law and Society at the Yenching Academy of Peking University. She holds a B.A. from NYU Shanghai and has also written for The World of Chinese, TechNode, SupChina, and Sixth Tone.
Savannah Billman

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