Academically Stellar, Culturally and Socially Lackluster Past Review

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 02/15/2017 to 06/04/2017 with

CET Beijing

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to get by in a completely new, foreign culture and how to work in an international setting.

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.

CET program is very academically rigorous and challenging. Your Chinese will improve tremendously, but at times the work load can be very overwhelming in combination with the internship. Electives are great, but internship seminar does not really add to the academic experience and is too much busy work with little academic gain.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Resident Director and staff are great and very accommodating. They can help you with any problem that may come up.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

CNU has a very nice dorm with staff that cleans the rooms regularly. Location is far from "downtown" Beijing and internship sites, and commutes can be around an hour on the subway. Roommates were a hit or a miss. My roommate and I did not really bond or have similar interests, but some roommates were very friendly and willing to help with our Chinese. Because of the academic rigor, there is not enough free time to spend time with your roommate.

* Food:

School cafeteria is very cheap, but the food is only alright. However, the neighborhood does have some very good restaurants. Only downside is: the CNU campus is located in a residential neighborhood and does not have as many dining options or street food vendors as other university campuses.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Given we had homework assignments due on weekends, there was not enough time to explore and see the "real" Beijing.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I personally did not have to visit the hospital or a doctor, but my friends did not have any negative experiences. Air quality is a major problem, and I had some respiratory problems as a result.

* Safety:

Beijing is a very safe city. I never felt that I was in an unsafe environment.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

My Chinese improved, and I was able to understand Chinese culture through an academic lens. However, there were not enough opportunities to understand Chinese culture and people through first-hand interaction. Most of your time is spent at your internship site or in class, and there is not enough time to go out and talk to locals and attend city events.


* 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)

Beijing is a very cheap city, and it is not difficult to survive while staying within budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 15
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you keep the same subway card, you will accrue discounts over time, and each trip will be cheaper. Avoid "Western" restaurants as they tend to be much more expensive than local ones.


* 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? 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? Chinese 30B
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Brandeis does not teach us how to write Chinese characters, but all CET homework assignments and tests are handwritten. It can be very hard to adjust and learn how to write all the basic characters while simultaneously learning more advance words. I recommend teaching yourself how to write the basic characters prior to beginning the program.

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?
  • Chinese classes
  • Internship
  • Staff is very helpful
* What could be improved?
  • Internship Seminar
  • Getting rid of unecessary busy work
  • More ways to get to know Beijing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Just how little time there is for extracurricular activities or sightseeing in Beijing.

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!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Course Department:
Instructor: David Moser
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Fantastic class! Numerous distinguished guest lecturers that offer different, interesting perspectives on Chinese medicine. Field trips to local TCM clinics and hospitals where you can witness how TCM is integrated into the overall Chinese culture and Beijing community. Sporadic weekly assignments are used to demonstrate that you understand the readings but are not busy work. Final paper allows you to explore a topic of interest in relation to TCM. Only downside is the class is 3 hours on a Tuesday night.
Credit Transfer Issues: