Graduate student Lyne Sitong Lin, who is studying at Beijing's Communication University of China in the second year of the SFU/CUC Double MA in Global Communication, spends an afternoon at Daguan Park in Kunming, China.

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A day in the life of an SFU/CUC double MA graduate student in Beijing

November 28, 2014
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By Diane Luckow

Born in China, Lyne Sitong Lin grew up in Poland and moved to Canada to attend university, graduating in 2013 with a bachelor of commerce (honours) from UBC.

For her graduate degree, however, she enrolled in the new double MA in global communication offered jointly by Simon Fraser University and the Communication University of China in Beijing.

“I knew that having the SFU and CUC brand behind me would be beneficial,” says Lin, who foresees a career in public affairs. “Employers know graduates from these two schools have a different level of maturity.”

The program, which launched in fall 2013 with 10 students, is taught at both universities, with students spending the first year studying at SFU and the second at CUC.

Studying for one year in Beijing was another reason to enroll, admits Lin.

“I was thrilled at the idea of living in a vibrant metropolitan city known to fuse history and contemporary culture together,” she says.

The program combines core courses, electives, tailored colloquia series, research papers and field placements in both countries. Instruction is in English, but students must demonstrate a basic proficiency in Mandarin or complete a non-credit introductory course.

“In addition to core and elective courses, there are a series of professional development workshops,” says Lin. “For example, the former director of policy and strategic planning for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon worked with the program cohort, teaching us how to write effective policy briefs.”

Students graduate with an MA from each university, and a minimum of 80 hours of communication-related work experience at a variety of government, industry or civil society organizations in both Canada and China.

Lin’s first field placement was with the Asia Pacific Foundation in Vancouver, where she developed a series of Asian media landscape briefs to enrich the staff’s knowledge about Asian media.

“I found out what it is like to work at a think tank, and I now have access to professional networks that will be crucial for my future career in the public affairs sector.”

Now in her second year in the program, Lin and her cohort are studying at CUC in Beijing.

Since Lin has always spoken Mandarin at home, she has no difficulty in communicating, and notes that other members of the cohort who had no previous skills in Mandarin are also doing well.

“Not only can they order foods and ask for directions with ease, they can also bargain fluently in Mandarin.”

Lyne Sitong Lin details a day at CUC in Beijing

6:50 a.m.
“I wake up, take a quick shower and then get on Skype to talk to my family back home in Vancouver, where it is 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon.

7:30 a.m.
I leave for class, stopping enroute at the school cafeteria to grab breakfast, which includes a fresh-made crepe and soy milk for only 10rmb, roughly $2 CAD.

8:00 a.m.
At CUC, morning classes start rather early. My first class is Asian Media Transition, which lasts for four hours, with breaks. The class is discussion-based. We exchange our ideas and opinions on the readings assigned for the day, and also give topical presentations, sharing our research findings.

11:50 a.m.
After class ends, I head with my classmates for lunch at the campus cafeteria. There is a wide selection of food, ranging from Korean bibimbap and Turkish kebab to Szechuan hotpot, Indian curry, or burgers and fries. The meals are all subsidized, thus very affordable.

2:00 p.m.
After a short nap, I head to the school library at the center of campus to work on my research paper. The library has a huge collection of Chinese publications.

4:00 p.m.
My classmates and I reconvene at the school gym to play badminton with international students from other programs. Here we have met students from all over the world (Kazakhstan, Serbia, Pakistan, Croatia, etc.)

5:30 p.m.
Cafeterias typically start serving dinner around 5:00 p.m. and most of the food is sold out by 7:00 p.m., so I have learned to have early dinners. During dinner, one of my classmates recounts his adventures of having a suit tailor-made, while another talks about her encounters with Chinese square dance. Then we discuss our plans for the weekend, entertaining the possibility of going to the Imperial Palace and trying out the Uighur cuisine.

6:45 p.m.
My friends and I head to the delivery room just outside of the school’s west gate to pick up parcels we have ordered from Taobao (the Chinese equivalent of Amazon). Online shopping is extremely popular in China and you can find almost everything you need for very reasonable pricing.

7:30 p.m.
After a quick run to the campus convenience store for water and fruit, I’m back in the dorm, settling in to do my readings for Wednesday’s class.  Sometimes my Korean neighbour will visit. On other nights my friend and I attend free cultural events such as theatrical performances, concerts or Peking opera night, which is hosted by the school.

10:00 p.m.
I head to bed early because tomorrow we have a class trip to the head office of China Radio International. Field trips are one of the best aspects of studying at CUC.”

Related story:
SFU News, Nov. 28, 2014 SFU Double MA in Global Communication wins gold for educational excellence