June 8th, 2021
“Saying yes out of politeness even though you want to say no – that is probably one of the biggest differences between Chinese and German culture,” said Jingchun Lin. She laughingly shared a story about sparkling water introduced to her by her host family during an exchange program in Germany. "I had never experienced this type of water before. I was nervous and it tasted weird; however, I didn't want to say so," mentioned Jingchun. She drank the water politely with apparent pleasure, and was offered sparkling water every day from then on.
Jingchun Lin, who everyone calls Posa, grew up in Shenzhen, a city of 12 million people not far from Hong Kong. The two-month exchange student program in a secondary school in Mönchengladbach was the first experience abroad for the then 16-year-old, who embarked on this journey by herself. During the course of time, she came to appreciate, not only the sparkling water, but also her host country; so much so, that she decided to continue studying in Germany.
Three years ago, in the summer of 2018, Posa enrolled in the Foundation Year Program at Jacobs University, a university preparatory program in which students gain experience in different subjects. She liked this orientation year so much that she decided to stay in Bremen. "Jacobs University is a diverse university, I feel very happy here," she said. She is particularly taken with the diversity and internationality on campus, with students from over 100 nations: “In class, I meet students from Jordan, the USA, Scotland, Germany, and more. I learned a lot through exchanges with them,” she explained.
Posa is studying International Business Administration. She chose the subject because she wants to use her Chinese background and her experience with Western culture to help build bridges between China and Germany. Many German companies want to enter the market in China, but often have to deal with cultural obstacles. "The differences between our countries are big in many ways," she said, "I always had the dream of mediating between the two cultures."
As the owner of a construction company, her father is an entrepreneur – and the 22-year-old has also recently followed suit as an entrepreneur. She founded a kiosk on the Jacobs University campus with support from the university and her professor Tilo Halaszovich, who teaches Global Markets and Firms. This idea was born at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, when she saw the need for a convenience store right on the university campus. “I love Jacobs University and I want to contribute and give back to the Jacobs community,” she said.
The kiosk has now been open every day of the week for the past few weeks. Feedback from the Jacobs community has been incredible, as it has been attracting a large portion of the student body as well as faculty members. Of course, the neighboring community surrounding Jacobs University is also welcome to visit Posa’s kiosk “StuPo” during it’s opening hours, where over 200 every day products and snacks are available. Posa has recruited a collaborative kiosk team consisting of eight students which takes care of purchasing, accounting, taxes, and runs a social media account for their business.
But, the kiosk is not only a kiosk, it is also a start-up project. "There's a lot more involved with it than just selling products," she stated. Permits had to be obtained, local suppliers had to be found, the tax office wants to be kept up to date. Posa faces challenges as a student entrepreneur with passion and enthusiasm. "If you run a successful business in Germany, you can succeed all over the world," she confessed with a laugh.
Posa values time management and likes to plan out her schedule. Before Covid-19, she used to start every day by going to the gym at 5:30 in the morning for a workout. Now she does her exercises in her room, and makes an effort to read more non-fiction books about decision-making, creativity, or digital learning, for instance. In addition, she works as a research assistant for Tobias ten Brink, Professor for Chinese Economy and Society, on a research project about the challenges China's current economic growth model faces, particularly in its innovative sectors.
Her next step will take her to England for a semester abroad at the University of Warwick. Her team will continue to run the kiosk, for which there are, of course, already further ideas. Posa intends to graduate in the summer of 2022, and she already has a plan for the time after that: to attend a top business school and get her master's degree.
This text is part of the series "Faces of Jacobs", in which Jacobs University introduces students, alumni, professors and staff. Further episodes can be found at www.jacobs-university.de/faces.