B&R millennials start freshman year in Fudan 

Fudan Unniversity welcomes the latest influx of freshmen

All over the world in September, colleges and universities open their doors to a great tide of fresh-faced freshmen, and Shanghai is no exception.

More than 3,400 Chinese students and over 300 students from 46 countries arrived at Fudan University on Sunday to begin undergraduate student life and more than 75 percent of them were born in or after 2000.

Among them is Zhang Chaochen, one of the first cohort of graduates from the Qingpu campus of a high school affiliated to the university. He got 601 points out of 660 in gaokao, the college entrance exam. He is reading medicine, a course of study that takes eight years to complete.

Medicine has become slightly problematic in China of late, with numerous conflicts reported between doctors and patients. Zhang’s grandparents and mother were doctors, but he chose medicine due to a former classmate.

“When we were in the 9th grade, my friend fell seriously ill. I felt sad for him but I could do nothing,” he said. “I thought that if I were a doctor, I might have been able to help him.”

Medicine majors are hugely oversubscribed, so Zhang began to study harder.

“I know my studies will not be easy and there are many challenges ahead, but we should not always try to avoid difficulties. We need to meet them head on and make sacrifices to achieve change,” he said. “Some people like to label our generation with words like selfish and unruly, but actually we can be responsible and dedicated.”

Among the international students, more than 200 come from countries along the Belt and Road. Chris Zhang, a Chinese Bulgarian, enrolled at Fudan through a cooperation program between his high school in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria, and the university.

“I have wanted to study in China since childhood because my father is Chinese. My grandfather performs in Peking Opera,” he said.

He began learning Chinese by watching TV series. He enrolled in a high school in Sofia that teaches Chinese and has become so fluent that he was an interpreter in July at the seventh leaders' meeting of China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries in Sofia. His language skills are such that he even interpreted for China’s Premier Li Keqiang.

Zhang said he likes reading Chinese novels, especially Jin Yong’s kung fu fiction, and watches Chinese TV series, such as "The Yanxi Strategy," a 70-episode story of imperial concubines during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Zhang is to study international economics and trade at Fudan for four years and plans to go to Britain for postgraduate study. He then intends to come back to Shanghai to work, seeing it as a fast-paced international metropolis.

Other universities in the city have also welcomed their new students over the weekend, including the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology and Shanghai Jian Qiao University.

Dong Jun / SHINE

Chris Zhang, a Chinese Bulgarian student, registers at Fudan University on Sunday.

Dong Jun / SHINE

A student poses for a photo when arriving at Fudan University.

Dong Jun / SHINE

A student arrives at Fudan University.

Dong Jun / SHINE

A student arrives at Fudan with his mother.

Yang Meiping / SHINE

Shanghai student Zhang Chaochen will study clinical medicine for eight years at Fudan.

Special Reports