September 26, 2018
Alex Zhu is in his third year of the American studies master’s program at Beijing Foreign Studies University. He recently spoke with USCET about his interest in American studies and his thoughts on the program.
As an undergraduate, Zhu studied teaching Chinese as a second language at Dalian University of Foreign Languages. After graduating, he applied and gained admission to the American studies program at Beijing Foreign Studies University.
Zhu primarily conducts research on the United States’ education system and economy. For his master’s thesis, for example, he completed an ethnographic study of Chinese students who attend American universities. Zhu chose this topic because he wanted to analyze the “acculturation process” Chinese students experience when going overseas for education.
Fittingly, Zhu has experience working with Chinese students who plan to apply to American colleges. He currently works as an SAT tutor, and he anticipates continuing this work after he receives his diploma.
Zhu speculated that many students in China are attracted to American studies because of the major’s job prospects. These prospects are only likely to grow: more and more companies in China are recruiting students who have high levels of English fluency and American cultural knowledge.
Zhu explained that when he speaks about American studies to his peers in China, they are curious and “at the same time marveled.” Their reactions can be explained by the fact that American studies’ multidisciplinary nature is unique among disciplines in China. In his words, the field concerns “American politics, history, all of it.”
The American studies program at BFSU also offers three different tracks: politics, society, and culture. Students choose a focus, but they also must take classes in each subject in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of American society.
In the future, Zhu is determined for his university to have more international partnerships. We have to create that bond [between American and Chinese universities],” he said.
In 2007, as an undergraduate, Zhu participated in the ASN Conference in Sichuan, China, where he submitted a paper for review. He is currently working on his next paper to submit, and he is eager to attend more lectures organized by USCET.
American Studies lies at the core of USCET’s organizational mission. This profile is part of a series to highlight various students across China who are majoring in American Studies and who plan to use it in their careers.