A True Introduction to China Past Review

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 08/31/2016 to 12/18/2016 with

CET Beijing

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I really gained deep insights into Chinese society and the local people's mentality. I was able to travel with my roommate and experience different sides of Beijing. We also discussed many challenges facing both the U.S and China today and it was wonderful for me to hear her opinions.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

the Daily Chinese language classes were the most rigorous with quizzes everyday I had to stay up studying for each night. There were many readings for the other English language classes I took and small informal presentations to prepare, but few other assignments throughout the semester.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Awesome! It was a small program, so the on-site coordinator and all the professors were always there to help. the on-site coordinator helped me many times to get my internet at a cheaper price and with things like that.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I really liked it. We had rooms shared with one Chinese roommate, which was great for Chinese practice and learning about Chinese culture. Each room had its own bathroom with a shower. The room also had a TV which was fun. However, it is my understanding that the CET has now moved the dorms to another campus of the same school, so the rooms will be different. But it sounded as though they are going to be even nicer.

* Food:

I really liked the cafeteria food. There are hundreds of choices and you can eat a big meal for about 6 Yuan (about one US dollar). But I know some people got tired of eating there, which is fine because there are tons of great restaurants nearby which also only cost about 18-24 Yuan (roughly 3-4 US dollars) to eat at. We were told to never eat street food due to sanitation issues. Also, all the drinking water in China is boiled beforehand, which was a surprise.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Besides the classes offered, the program also had planned several trips to places such as the Great Wall, Nanjing, Buddhist temples, and a small village outside Beijing which were all amazing. They also reimbursed up to 70 Yuan each week for you and your roommate to explore Beijing and do something related to experiencing Chinese culture. I think other students were able to experience Chinese working culture during their internships, but I chose not to do an internship. Instead I invested much of my free time in activities with a local Christian Church, and learned a lot about Chinese society and family through my time spent with them.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never got anything more serious than a headache during my time in Beijing. However, some of the other students had to go to the hospital. They all seemed satisfied with the hospital services - The hospital is known to be one of the best in the city, and most foreigners choose to use this hospital. I can't say much about the processes, because I never had to go.

* Safety:

I felt mostly safe during my time in Beijing. However I heard stories of things being stolen on the street and I was told not to walk outside at night by myself. Other than that, I would say the biggest risk to our health was the pollution. We all wore masks on days it was measured to be high, but most of the semester it was merely moderate (but still wear a mask). The day after we left on Dec. 18 the pollution turned terrible for several weeks, so I would say fall is better than winter if you are planning to go to Beijing.

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

I had a great time and was able to learn Chinese while also gaining a good understanding of the local culture. Next time I would like to do an internship as well.


* 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)

Things are pretty cheap in China and the exchange rate is not bad.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I only spent about $50 each week on food and transportation around Beijing. I also took 3 trips to other cities during the semester on my own which cost about $300 overall. I probably spent about $100 on gifts and souvenirs.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I exchanged about $1000 dollars worth of money right at the airport and made sure not to exceed that. I paced myself throughout the semester.


* 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

We could only speak Chinese while on the 16th floor (where the language classes were) and we were encouraged to only speak Chinese with our roommates.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
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? 202
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? Even if your roommate is trying to be nice and explain something in English, don't let them! It's hard but make sure you only use Chinese to speak with them.

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
  • International Students
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?
  • My local roommate
  • The teachers
  • Cultural activities/trips - and Chinese table on Mondays!
* What could be improved?
  • more spread out class times
  • more assignments throughout the semester, as opposed to one final grade at the end
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Get your VPN BEFORE the program, once you are in China it is almost impossible to get a good one because all the VPN download websites are blocked. Also, Express is good, but expensive. I know other students used free VPNs that worked just fine.

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!