Are you thinking about what to study at university? Have a rough plan about your career? Does your career plan include places like China, Taiwan or Singapore? If yes, you may be tempted to study sinology. Do not study sinology!
Some people give the advice to study what you like most. This recommendation comes from a time when university students mostly came from a privileged part of the society. Today for many people coming from a rather poor worker class background get a ticket to get out of the mess. This ticket is you university education. So, please, do me a favor and don’t waste this ticket.
If you come from a rather wealthy background the advice in this post may not apply to you, however if you plan to get out of the working class and upwards, keep reading.
Do you know any people who studied sinology? I do, and very very few of them can actually make use of what they have learned. Most chose some type of retraining afterwards. What are the career prospects for a sinologist? Maybe you could remove the dust from porcelain vases? Or drive a taxi in your city? If you are lucky, you could after reaching a PhD become a teacher and teach more little sinologists. I don’t want to say anything about the difficulty of learning Chinese, in fact it’s super hard and you need a lot of motivation. But just because something is hard it doesn’t mean it’s valuable.
You may have read interviews with managers who have to do something with China. They may have said something about how hard it is not being able to speak Chinese and how wonderful it was if they learned Chinese before. But let’s examine the statement. Chinese can be valuable to a manager, but Chinese doesn’t transform you into a manager in the first place.
Avoiding the sinology trap
What you should do instead is to think how you want to earn money in China. How you want to use your Chinese in Asia. Sinology may be your first choice, but you have to combine it with another skill. In fact, the other skill is far more important if you want to earn money. Once you know what is your other skill, just study that at university and then learn the Chinese language and about China’s culture in your free time.
If it isn’t obvious by now, you should study anything related to engineering, science or economics. All of them are rock solid choices and they will give you an entrance ticket to an acceptable first job upon which you then can build your career. You will also have the income to study what you like. At that point you may be a manager who by chance can also speak Chinese.
That is also how I did it. I studied computer science. Now I have a lot of freedom to just study Chinese as much as I want. I can support myself financially without any worries whatsoever, yet I have the time to build my career with the Chinese language.
Think about it! And if you have any questions leave a post in the comments section.
Studying at university in the medieval times.