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39 Reasons Why Chinese Have A Total Different College Life Than Americans

Before college, your dream was to attend a good college; after, job, wife and house become immediate targets. What about the years in between?

Posted on August 6, 2015, at 12:37 p.m. ET

1. For the first time, you escape constant supervision from both your parents and class advisors and move into a HUGE dorm building.

2. Growing up having no siblings, you are excited but nervous to live with anywhere from three to sometimes 11 strangers for the next four years.

3. Just like everybody else, you will get a bike to ride around the enormous campus – the biggest 10 Chinese universities are all bigger than Central Park.

4. (You will lose your bike about five times — entirely or partially.)

5. The classes are often designed to host 150 students, leaving the professor a black dot in the front of the room.

6. (Pro-tip: The professor never gets to know all 150 names and faces. So when you sleep in, your roommates can answer for you without being caught.)

7. The last row is always the most popular: you pass most classes by sleeping, playing mobile games, eating, and whispering at your classmates.

8. Right away, you befriend your roommates — the loveliest human beings in your age group — and begin sharing your feelings.

"City people know how to play," read the words in the picture, which is a popular internet phrase in China.

9. Taking classes, staying up late watching movies, talking about boys – you are always together.

Beimeng Fu

10. Staying up the whole night singing karaoke is your favorite thing to do.

11. Your roomies have the most efficient but also ancient method to bring back FOOOOD for everybody.

12. Hot pot is a must as a fancy meal in dorm life – but it's actually forbidden due to safety concerns, so be super careful (both in terms of not setting everything on fire and not getting caught).

13. During extreme weather, you depend on their SCIENCE SKILLS to pass long nights.

(In case you're wondering what is going on here, A/C is still a luxury for many school dorms. We're not sure this actually works, but the engineering of it is impressive.)

14. Outside the back gate of EVERY single Chinese university, the students' favorite hangout spot can be found — the almighty Dark Food Street.

15. You just can't escape the wide variety of yummy Chinese junk food.

16. And Starbucks' strongest competitor: bubble tea.

17. Some food doesn't look quite right, and you know in some part of your heart that the chicken feet might be decades old, but c'mon, sewage oil just tastes DAMN good.

18. That's why you chose it over campus canteens – sometimes the canteen cooks get a bit too creative. (WTF is Tangerine Fried Cucumber, anyway?!)

19. But usually they pretty reliable. For slightly less than $2, you can get a whole tray like this with four dishes and a bowl of rice, especially when the staffers are in a good mood.

20. One of the only times you work ambitiously is to get into the Student Council. It'll lead to "power."

Disney / Via

21. And of course there's study time. For ordinary students, that's the three days before the end of term; for those who are preparing for graduate school, it's a year, more or less.

22. But you need to get in the library and occupy a seat first.

23. Which means you need to be there early enough before the library opens — aka daybreak. So cherish the time in the line.

24. 11 PM is the most frustrating time in a day. Electricity is cut off after that, no matter whether you are still in the middle of showering, or looking for your contact lenses under your desk.

25. Speaking of showering, you are moving at the highest speed possible throughout the whole process – the balance on your shower card falls faster than the water.

It costs about $0.05/min for showering. So, yeah, lather, rinse, skip the repeat.

26. But super scholars are super scholars. They have their own backup lighting plans to study anyway.

27. Every school has its ghost rumor – sometimes it's a fishy security guard walking around with a lantern inside the building of Fine Arts at midnight, sometimes it's the secret that the school location used to be a crematory.

28. Everyone is required to do a morning run during the super early hours, like around 7 AM. But that's less than fun, so no one actually runs.

29. You will have the ugliest photo of your college life taken during the week-long mandatory military training.

Beimeng Fu

(Editor's Note: This is actually a portrait of the author as a young reluctant soldier.)

30. When romantic relationships are a big no-no before college, everybody at once rushes into it — but most still keep it from parents.

31. Except for you. You're definitely not bitterly muttering about how ridiculous this whole thing is, but still questioning why nobody makes such a scene for you. ...Nope.

32. You might think the boiled water house* would be the last place for a romantic scene. But everybody brings their colorful thermos bottles and stories will be told if a gentleman gives a lady tips about how to fill four bottles but just pay for one.

*Some dorms don't have boiled water for things like drinking and bathing, so there are buildings set up to lug the clean water back to your room. You do have to pay for it — it's not expensive, but still...

33. On the weekends, you get to appreciate weird flower dragon statues your school put up annually.

34. Or wander into the garden area of the school to feed goldfish – admittedly, they are a bit out of control.

35. Or travel for two hours from the suburb to the city proper – your hometown friends envy you for studying in big cities like Shanghai, but you are the only one who knows that you can barely navigate it.

36. Don't worry, everyone thinks that the other schools they visit are better. "Why don't we have an on-campus graffiti tunnel too," you wonder.

37. I mean, just look at this campus. It's a combination of elements from heaven: blue sky, palm trees, flowers, elegant architecture, and a rainbow. A RAINBOW.

38. "Tell us about yourself." You find yourself frozen among GIANT CROWDS at job affairs when graduation approaches.

China's first-tier cities appear to be less attractive for graduates, is it and why?

39. And then comes the graduation trip that just makes everybody cry and wonder how time has gone by so fast.

Beimeng Fu

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.