Polytechnical University, Xi'an, China
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Photos of our Xi'an students;
NPU's website (English
version); our Student Connection page;
students essays about the campus;
about campus-area establishments
taught at Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) from 2002 to 2005;
Vivian taught at the university or linked programs most of that time too.
We created these pages back when "digital photography" was still pretty
primitive, but you can get a feel for our life there. All in all, it was a
GREAT place to work, though "respiratory
problems" eventually forced us to look for cleaner air.
NPU is the only
Chinese university featuring education and scientific research on
aeronautics, astronautics and marine engineering. As of 2004, 1400 faculty
members were training some 37,000 students (including 1500 Ph.D. and 7600 Master's
Degree candidates) on NPU's three Xi'an campuses.
(Left) The centerpiece of campus is the library, with
its beautiful fountain out front.
behind it is a new state-of-the-art multi-purpose building, completed just
in time for the school's 65th anniversary (Oct. 2003)
(Right) This is the largest student cafeteria. I believe there are
five main halls for students to choose from, plus a more expensive
restaurant in the campus hotel. We ate with our students once or twice a
week, usually in the hotel or in one of many small restaurants off campus
(mainly because student cafeterias are too noisy to hold an English
A lot changed while were were there. Here is the "old front gate." Cars, bikes,
people and various other modes of transportation competed for space outside
the busy main entrance. Yes, these cars and people were all moving in
different directions at once! (One of the biggest transportation
challenges here is that many pedestrians and cyclists ignore
Three special lanes for busses and bikes appeared in 2003, followed
by a new gate (seen here). A year later a pedestrian overpass was added
nearby, along with a fence down the middle of the road so that the bikes
and pedestrians seen here can no longer slow down the traffic as it passes
the gate. These changes greatly improved the traffic conditions. Vivian
said that the busy bridge during rush hour was quite a
A few weeks after arriving at NPU, Michael's classes moved into a
building with nice seats and some great high-tech computer equipment! Many
of his lectures involve Power Point presentations projected on a big screen.
Click here to read about the West Building
(pictured below) where Michael taught most of his classes.
Here are the
"Officials" who participated in NPU's 2002 "Model United Nations (MUN)"
program, including Michael who served as a judge. NPU was the first Chinese
campus to send delegates to New York for the International MUN, and it is
a national leader in promoting Chinese participation in the program. There
were two MUN conferences in 2002, and students representing different
nations did an excellent job of presenting positions on several important
issues in English for over eight hours! (In 2003, Michael was too sick to
participate in this conference, but he was a judge again in 2004.)
Michael and other MUN-2002 participants on the front page of
Xi'an's daily newspaper!
Below is the student dorm
complex built while we were there. These dorms were the first to have heat
in the winter, but I was
told that there are long lines at the elevators. The newer dorms were set
up for six roommates, and the rooms have running water (old dorms have
seven roommates, and students have to use showers in another building).
During the 2003
SARS scare, no one was allowed in or out of the main gate (above) without
special permission--and everyone entering had to have his/her temperature
taken electronically! Once the crisis passed, the campus community could come and go at will,
but visitors still needed permission to enter. (We were among the few
foreigners in the area who stayed in China "during SARS.")
The West Building is seen here. Students study
between and after classes, both in empty classrooms and outside, and my
students frequently complained that they had a hard time finding a place to
study. For an unknown reason, these continuously-used outdoor work spaces
were replaced in 2003 with some big plants with far fewer places for
students to sit.
Student life is not easy. Many students study outside (yes,
even in the snow!) at all hours. Many classes require a
lot of memorization so students "recite" to themselves wherever they find
space. The older student dorm rooms have no heat, and
with six or seven roommates, students don't have privacy either. This seems
"terrible" to Americans who all-but idolize privacy, but it is no big deal
in the Chinese way of thinking.
dine with students and invite them to our home to see a movie in English. These are some of Vivian's
Click to see more student photos
Beautiful trees line the major streets on campus. Click here
to read student essays about the trees (and campus). The campus is
completely enclosed by walls, as are most Chinese campuses. When we
arrived in 2002, there were at least four gates,
there were only two (during SARS), and after that one more opened. I think
only one is open for traffic (the others are for people and bikes only). One of the
most amazing sights you can imagine is watching thousands of people (plus
bikes, trucks and cars) coming in or out of the gates during "rush
Here, some students take a break and build a snowman. Since
many of the dorms don't have heat, you might as well enjoy what the
outdoors has to offer!
photos & resources:
Click here for photos of former
students in Xi'an, Kunming, or
Essays: Click here
to see student essays from former students about NPU, Chinese holidays, and
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