From Shanghai to Bremen to study
Shuqing Zhao is studying psychology at Jacobs University. ,


April 4, 2018

She says it was one of the best decisions she has ever made, but what attracts a young Chinese student from Shanghai to study at a university 8,600 kilometers away from home? In the case of Shuqing Zhao, it was the international orientation of Jacobs University that was the deciding factor – as well as her love of the multiplicity of German music.

She’s particularly fond of Schubert’s lieder and Wagner’s operas. Who knows, whether she would have found her way without them to Jacobs University back in 2010, at the Shanghai World Expo? This showcased the international orientation of the private university in Bremen, with its students from more than 100 different countries, which left a long lasting impression on her and was a crucial factor in her decision to study here. “The fact that so many people from so many different countries study together in Germany is something very special,” says Shuqing Zhao.

She learned German in school, as well as the piano. In addition, she plays the accordion, the flageolet (a wind instrument similar to the recorder), the harmonica, the ukulele and the hulusi, a Chinese mouth organ. And on top of all this, she has taken lessons in composition. For her compositions, she sometimes gains inspiration from historic events, and one of her piano pieces is dedicated to the fall of the Berlin Wall. A grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) took the now twenty-year-old student to Germany for the first time to take part in a summer camp in a village in North Rhine-Westphalia. The transition to studying at a university here was then no longer quite so daunting.

Fifteen million people live in Shanghai. Life there is fast-paced, vibrant, and hectic. In comparison, Bremen is little more than a quiet, comfortable town. “In a more manageable environment like this, there are closer ties between people”, she says, describing the fundamental differences between the two worlds. This applies all the more to the Jacobs University campus where she lives, along with all the university’s bachelor students. “I found friends very quickly. They come from all over the world, and you also learn a lot about their cultures too.”

Shuqing Zhao began her degree course in 2016. At the English-language university, she initially enrolled in Integrated Social Sciences, but then attended a lecture in psychology – and switched courses. “The course opened my eyes; I had a false impression about the subject.” she says. “Most importantly, it enabled me to address self-selected questions about my passion: music.” She is currently doing research on how music conveys emotions, and whether this is dependent on enculturation.

Shuqing Zhao loves not only classical music, but also likes to experiment with jazz, rock, and various other genres. At Spotlight, the Jacobs University talent show (April 7, 8 p.m.), she’ll be performing with a rock band, and she has played the piano at numerous events outside of the university. She is also involved in other areas: as a student representative on the Academic Affairs Committee, for example, which works to further study and teaching, and as one of the organizers of the “Lunar New Year Gala”, the university’s East Asian New Year celebration.

She also puts her knowledge to good use in assisting the China Global Center of Jacobs University and working as an academic assistant under Professor Tobias ten Brink for his research project examining the development dynamics of Chinese social policy. She recently travelled to Glasgow in Scotland to take part in a workshop with psychology students from all over Europe, where her team developed an app for neuroscience research.

Shuqing Zhao can well imagine working in the academia herself one day. At the very least, she plans to do a master’s degree. And then? “We’ll see,” she says. She isn’t quite sure yet where she’ll end up. It could be anywhere – in China, the USA, somewhere in Europe, perhaps in Bremen. At the moment, this question is irrelevant. “Jacobs University is home for now.”