International Relations in Beijing Past Review

By (International Relations and Affairs., Brown University) - abroad from 08/22/2014 to 12/12/2014 with

Beijing Foreign Studies University: Beijing - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I am most proud of having developed a thesis topic while I was abroad. The professors at IES were not only helpful in guiding their course material towards my interests, but they also pointed me in the directions of resources I would not have found on my own.

Review Photos

Beijing Foreign Studies University: Beijing - Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The Chinese language courses at IES are very rigorous, so I found that my language level had many improvements, although placement into the class levels is not always extremely accurate. Subject classes are not as rigorous as they are at my home university. Going into the semester, I knew very little about Chinese politics and international relations, so although in my case the classes were very informative, I still found that they weren't extremely challenging. However, I think that having a low academic commitment was also part of the experience because it gave the students time to focus on seeing Beijing and other areas of the country without sacrificing academic standing.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I found the staff at IES to be supportive of all of my personal problems. The professors in the program helped me develop and senior thesis by personalizing the course work to my interests (as well as those of other students) and providing me with resources for extended exploration that I would not have found on my own. Th center staff always made themselves available resolve any problems that I might be having, and the RAs in the program are well chosen and trained to mentor and help students navigate the country with success.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The program staff put me in a host stay that was very comfortable. I didn't get the experience I was expecting to have of feeling like a member of the family unit, but I believe this is not necessarily a problem with matching students with their home-stays, but rather a cultural difference I was not prepared for.

* Food:

China has an incredible variety of food, and I think it is very easy for every person to find something that they like to eat. It might be a little less friendly for gluten-free diets, but neither I nor any of the students I was with found it extremely difficult to find food that we were comfortable eating. I certainly wish I could find real Chinese food again in the States!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The program facilitates some opportunities for students to mingle with Chinese citizens, however I think it is mostly the responsibility of every student to put themselves out there and find ways to interact with Beijing locals and people in any other city they may visit.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The program staff is always available to make health recommendations and take care of minor health issues. The program also provides an insurance to receive care for more serious health problems.

* Safety:

China in general is a very safe country with very low heavy-crime rates. I felt safer walking around, even late into the night, in every city that I visited in China than I would in most places in the United States.

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


* 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)

China is not an expensive country when seen in terms of dollars. I personally was spending about $50 a week for food and daily expenses, or $100 a week when I treated myself to non-essentials and high-priced outings. Even traveling in the country is much cheaper than doing so in the U.S.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you stick to the essentials, you will find that China is a very affordable country. Late-night outings and international commodities are the things that really raise the price of your experience.


* 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

The language pledge at IES was well-enforced so students were always encouraged to use mandarin.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? CHIN0400
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? Practicing the language is up to each student. It is your responsibility to put yourself in situations where you are practicing with classmates or speaking with locals. Although the program may facilitate an environment for language improvement, you are the one who needs to make a commitment to bettering your abilities.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Field Study course in Tibet
  • Time allowed for independent travel
  • Flexibility with housing options
* What could be improved?
  • Academic rigor
  • Facilitating more experiences with non-americans
  • Diversification of faculty
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had know more about the academic experience

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 Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.