Contemporary Issues Past Review

By (University of Louisville) - 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?
My Chinese language skills and general knowledge of Chinese culture and politics improved significantly. And I made great friends over the semester! I would definitely do it again!

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 classes at IES are tough, but very rewarding. I didn't realize how much I improved until I got back to my home university. That being said, these Chinese classes probably require a greater time commitment than other study abroad programs. It's difficult to compare the other courses in the Contemporary Issues program to my home university courses since these classes are taken individually in blocks. I found these classes to be really helpful for understanding China within a short period of time and not particularly demanding. Overall, the Chinese and area studies classes provide a nice balance.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff did a great job of making me feel comfortable in the program and I always felt informed. The only issue I had was that the Contemporary Issues program is presented on the IES website like numerous courses are available, yet many of these courses were not offered due to low enrollment. So, I would not advise students to depend on taking a specific course with this program.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a dorm with a Chinese roommate. Having both my fellow classmates and Chinese students around made for a great environment. IES has changed buildings so I can't speak for the current arrangement, but it was very convenient for me having a classroom / activity room just down the hall from my dorm room.

* Food:

Finding food is your own responsibility which gives you a lot of freedom. There are many restaurants around the BFSU campus and almost all that I went to were very cheap and delicious. It's also cool being in Beijing because you can get food from around the world with a cheap cab or subway ride.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The program had some events to encourage this, but my best experiences with the local culture were through independent travel and exploring Beijing. I think the program could encourage more interaction within the dorm and around campus though.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The program's staff provides helpful information on staying healthy and they are really supportive when any health issues come up. Over the counter meds from home were very handy to have.

* Safety:

I always felt very safe. The worst I came across were scam artists.

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)

Food and travel are both very cheap.


* 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 program has a language pledge which is effective at encouraging Chinese in conversation. It's not something to fear though, English is allowed during certain hours and off-campus.

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? CHNS202
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 sure that you are practicing the language in restaurants, stores, cabs, etc. since it's easy to let the most advanced speaker do all of the talking.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The people
  • The food
  • Travel opportunities (especially Tibet)
* What could be improved?
  • Class availability
  • Events to connect with Chinese students
  • More guidance on the visa process
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Which classes I would be taking

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.