SUSTech Students on Exchange: Notre Dame knows no bounds for fintech student
Chris Edwards | 08/10/2019

Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) has worked hard to create an environmental with global vision. With over 90% of our faculty having worked or studied outside of mainland China, SUSTech is infused with an international outlook that flows through to our students. With this in mind, the Global Engagement Office has worked hard to develop plenty of programs for students to go abroad to study. More than 60 undergraduate students were overseas when the call went out for information about their time in another country, and this is their story.

Xia Feilian

South Bend, Indiana, United States of America – University Notre Dame

Xia Feilian is from Hefei in Anhui Province. He came to SUSTech because Shenzhen was and still is, in his mind, a good city, and SUSTech could provide students with good accommodation, along with various other benefits. Xia Feilian also wasn’t sure which major he would choose when he graduated high school, so the general education curriculum at SUSTech would provide significant benefits to him. As a junior student, he has opted to study financial technology within the Department of Finance.

Xia Feilian didn’t need any special encouragement to travel overseas to continue his studies. He traveled to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, United States of America. His parents provided plenty of financial support for him to go abroad, as Xia Feilian has long wanted to travel abroad and broaden his horizons.

Why Notre Dame?

The University of Notre Dame was founded in November 1842 by Rev. Edward F. Sorin, C.S.C., a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, a French missionary order. One of America’s leading undergraduate teaching institutions, Notre Dame has been at the forefront in research and scholarship. The aerodynamics of glider flight, the transmission of wireless messages, and the formulae for synthetic rubber were pioneered at the University. Today researchers are achieving breakthroughs in astrophysics, radiation chemistry, environmental sciences, tropical disease transmission, peace studies, cancer, robotics, and nanoelectronics.

Notre Dame has a unique spirit. It is traditional, yet open to change. It is dedicated to religious belief no less than to scientific knowledge. It has always stood for values in a world of facts. It has kept faith with Father Sorin’s vision.

Xia Feilian chose Notre Dame because it has a highly ranked finance program that cooperates with SUSTech. He didn’t have to change his major and was able to add to his knowledge base within the Mendoza College of Business. He noted that the American educational style required students to take an application-based approach to their education, while also spending time developing career-oriented abilities. The English language curricula at SUSTech was also helpful for Xia Feilian. He pointed out that while he felt well prepared for English classes, adapting to the wide range of different accents in Western countries could be a challenge at times.

His experience in the United States

Xia Feilian did not need much time to adjust to life in the United States. He did notice the vast array of traditions that Notre Dame has developed over its long history. One thing that Notre Dame has in common with SUSTech is its residential college, or halls. While SUSTech’s residential colleges are still young and developing, Notre Dame’s halls are full of unique traditions and activities that create an intense sense of belonging. Such campus culture adds an intra-hall rivalry at a wide range of events on campus, whether they are sporting or academic events between the different halls.

As a young man, Xia Feilian enjoyed playing basketball, and Notre Dame has certainly had many successful years in basketball over the years. The sporting and associated party culture at the college level in the United States is something unlike anything else in other countries, so it was something very different for Xia Feilian. The broader enthusiasm for sport across the United States was a learning experience in its own right for him.

Something else that Xia Feilian pointed out was the pride that many Americans have for their alma maters. He noted that this is something that is not developed in a short period of time, but takes a long period of time to foster, cultivate and develop into what they represent today. “It’s really hard to truly describe how the pride for their universities is formed, it’s indescribable.”

His free time was mostly spent playing basketball, studying, spending time with his roommate and occasionally working in the student dining hall to earn some money. This last pursuit is not uncommon among students. Xia Feilian did get to spend some time traveling, and has been to Chicago, New York City, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Florida and California, among other places around the United States. He took care in planning his time off campus when traveling, so he could see lots of famous places. He got to watch NBA games, taste local cuisine and visit famous places like Disneyland, Hollywood, Miami Beach and the White House.

His biggest challenge so far has been preparing his postgraduate applications, where he hopes to go to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to continue his studies in financial technology.

Why people should go on exchange

The experience of exchanging and learning is totally different from that of traveling. We have the opportunity to be enclosed in another culture and feel every aspect of it, from its living environment to its social ideas. I had a great experience in America, and their ideas on religion and social affairs gave me the opportunity to reflect about my own country.

The second thing would be learning styles. After I finished my course of machine learning, I found out their emphasis on practical learning was very advanced. SUSTech is on its way to a top international university, there are still a lot of things to learn.

The last is living ability. I can confidently say that I can survive anywhere in the world. I learned how to cook, how to manage my time and how to find the information I needed and wanted for my studies and entertainment. I became an independent young man that did not need to rely on his parents for everything. I have shown that I am capable of doing this, and I have developed as a person as a result. I think that this is an important skill for students to learn.


One of the basic missions of the Global Engagement Office (GEO) is to ‘internationalize’ the student experience through providing opportunities for students to immerse themselves in other cultures, develop their cross-cultural competencies, and raise awareness of the complexities of global issues. It is a principle of the university’s vision to be a global university; an element of this understanding is to provide SUSTech students with the opportunity to study abroad for a certain period (from several weeks – a summer program – to one year).

So far, the Global Engagement Office has established cooperation with major institutions from all over the world and provides nearly 50 different study abroad programs to our undergraduates, with a variety of program options, ranging from short-term programs such as summer schools and research internships, semester programs such as visiting student programs and exchange programs, to joint-degree programs such as “3+2”, “3+1+1” and more.

If students would like to learn more about current programs and info sessions managed by GEO, please visit our website (https://geo.sustc.edu.cn/) and are invited to follow the GEO WeChat public account (search “南科大国际合作部”). Students can also send emails to geo_students@sustech.edu.cn for any enquiries regarding studying abroad programs.

2019, 08-10
By Chris Edwards

From the Series

Global Influence

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Translated and Adapted By SUSTech Newshub

Proofread ByXia Yingying

Photo BySupplied

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