Date registered: January 12, 2014
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Most of your learning is outside the classroom though. Get a tutor - free or very cheap. Stay away from language exchange, it is a waste of time if you can afford a tutor. You can do language exchange in order to get friends, but it is a waste of time in terms of learning. Then it's better to get a job as a tutor and pay a tutor to teach you (also more economic).
Have a look at the training school at huaxiba - it is a training school for teachers. You can get some free 1-on-1 classes (the need practice in order to become certified teachers). Two hours of 1-on-1 is better than 3 hours at CaiDa (and I'm guessing the same goes for ChuanDa)
With regards to the positives:
You should sign up for the higher level classes. Your classmates will mostly be Asians and their attitude is much better. Students from Korea, Japan, and Thailand usually have a great attitude. They go to class on time and they do their homework (for the most part). My classmates don't care so much about their grades - they care about learning Chinese, which is much better. My classmates are hardworking and there are a few students in my class who are expected to go from HSK4 to HSK6 in less than a year - I think that is quite impressive. It is also inspirational and brings extra motivation.
Class sizes are very small for intermediate and advanced levels. We are usually 4-6 students in my class (E2).
With regards to the negatives:
Some teachers are good or amazing, but others are very bad. I took another class last semester and the level was shocking. I didn't like any of those teachers and I basically wasted my time in their classes.
The teachers' English level and the problem of them wanting to be friends with the students - This is not the case for higher level classes. Most of them hardly speak English. I do think that we have a professional relationship with most of the teachers, but this is not always the case for the lower level classes.
I think it is extremely strange that they have teachers who haven't studied another language. I have taken Chinese classes in the US, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. I have never had a language teacher who only studied one language. The teachers who also know English or Korean/Japanese are usually much better. There are many teachers who have no idea about what is easy and what is hard. I had a teachers who spent 3 hours explaining rhetorical questions because she thought it was special for Chinese.
That being said, I also have some very good teachers, who are very good at explaining the grammar rules. Furthermore, I often e-mail them and send weixin messages and they always reply and they are happy to help me if there is something I do not understand. I highly recommend the HSK elective classes.
The teachers don't care about my learning - Yes and no. Generally speaking, Chinese teachers at SWUFE care about exams. The problem is that tests in China often are extremely useless for learning. Like learning how to answer test questions that you don't understand, rather than learning how to understand the test questions. That being said, I can always ask my teacher and they often go home and prepare extra material for me. They are also willing to help me with Chinese which is not part of what we study in the class room. I have written several essays that I sent to my teachers. They were happy to help me.
The administration office is a complete joke. I thought my school in Denmark was bad, but 财大 is BAD. They should look at best practices from other universities. They are shockingly useless. They never send e-mails and you have to figure everything out on your own. The university teaches business and management, maybe they could send their staff to an Organization or Communication 101 course. I am a scholarship student and I am supposed to get books for free for each semester. I just got them - 6 weeks after the semester started......
I cannot compare CaiDa to sichuan university, but I think CaiDa is ok for higher level classes, mainly due to the class sizes. That being said, there is a high level of uncertainty with the teachers as you can't be guaranteed good teachers. You should ask other students about which class to join. Stay away from bad teachers, it is a waste of time to study with a bad teacher.
Overall, it has lived up to my expectations. Plenty of room for improvement though.