A Spring in Beijing October 30, 2015

By (Amherst College) - abroad from 01/21/2015 to 05/15/2015 with

IFSA/Alliance: Beijing - Popular Culture and Social Change

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a ton of language experience, met great new friends, and learned so much about life in China. It was most definitely worthwhile, and I already can't wait to go back.

Review Photos

Alliance for Global Education: Beijing - Popular Culture and Social Change Photo Alliance for Global Education: Beijing - Popular Culture and Social Change Photo Alliance for Global Education: Beijing - Popular Culture and Social Change Photo Alliance for Global Education: Beijing - Popular Culture and Social Change Photo Alliance for Global Education: Beijing - Popular Culture and Social Change Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The only real negative here is that the program was so small that they weren't able to offer any variety of electives. There were 2 available, and those were the 2 we took. However, I personally really enjoyed both of those courses very much, and it was pretty cool to all have roughly the same schedule. The professors clearly know their stuff, and they're required to take you on at least 2 outings over the course of the semester. We went to a concert for a Mongolian throat singer's band, attended a music festival, got a personal tour of the National Museum, and got to meet with other students from a nearby school to discuss foreign affairs while eating pizza. Those were really great experiences because I probably wouldn't have been able to do those otherwise.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Some of the most caring and fun people I've ever met

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We stayed in the International Students' Dorm, which is basically a hotel. They clean for you every day and change your sheets once a week.

* Food:

Super delicious, super cheap

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It's kind of you to go out and meet locals - the program won't do that for you - but it's really easy to meet a lot of friendly people in Beijing. And Alliance will point you towards opportunities of where to go and help you understand how to get there. I highly recommend going to the coffee hours at the Beijing American Center! I met a lot of new friends there that I still keep up with nearly a year later.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any health issues personally, but I had full trust in our Resident Director to help me if I would have needed anything.

* Safety:

As with any big city, don't leave your valuables in easy to grab places. And for Beijing in particular, be careful crossing the street.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $20-$30
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Try bargaining when appropriate - you can save money and practice your Chinese!

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Make local friends, and make a conscious decision to practice as much as possible.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Language Instruction
  • The people (staff, classmates, and locals)
  • Life in Beijing
* What could be improved?
  • Elective choices
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I would have appreciated knowing beforehand that there were only 2 available electives.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!