By (Chinese Language, Literature, Brandeis University) - abroad from 02/03/2015 to 05/27/2015 with

CET Beijing

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I vastly improved my language skills and understanding of China. It was SOOO worthwhile.

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.

There was definitely a lot of daily practice material and to really get the most out of the program I needed to spend additional time practicing my conversation skills with my roommate and other Chinese friends and acquaintances.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They planned a lot of fun activities, were very friendly and accommodating, and were knowledgeable about all the situations one might encounter.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We lived in a hotel. That's really all that needs to be said. A huge bed, private bathroom, great heating and A/C, sheets changed and trash emptied by staff, the staff was incredibly amazing - always chatting with us and helping in any way they could.

* Food:

The campus cafeteria was decent but there are a million cheap and delicious options within a three minute walk from the dorm.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The people and culture was very warm and welcoming. Of course, some of this depends on how much you put yourself out there but I had the most amazing time of my life and was depressed when I had to come home.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have a any health issues but there were a couple people who got pretty sick and were well taken care of with the program's health insurance coverage.

* Safety:

Beijing may be one of the safest big cities in the world as long as you use common sense and don't go around by yourself late at night.

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 cheap compared to the U.S., but there were still times when I would look at my account and go "Uh oh." As long as you prioritize the things you would like to experience, it is fairly easy to manage your budget here.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Probably around $30-$50, and that was when I was spending freely.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't be afraid to bargain hard for gifts or souvenirs and don't get sucked into tourist trap restaurants or attractions. Going to the more authentic places not only saves money but also gives ample opportunities to practice your Chinese.


* 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 weren't allowed to speak English unless it was on the phone with family and friends back home or in an emergency.

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? Chinese 120B or the equivalent of a seventh semester language course
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? Literally do not speak English. It can be hard at first - it may even seem impossible - but you will come up with creative ways to express yourself and will suddenly realize that one day you are communicating almost as well as you normally do. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. I made some huge ones all the way up until I left the country, and you learn to laugh them off and move forward. People won't care either. For the most part, everyone I interacted with was thrilled that I was making the effort to communicate in their language. Think about if someone came to America to study English and struck up a conversation with them. You would want to help and share knowledge of your country, culture, family, and life. It is no different in China. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so make the most of it and treat every day as a new adventure. But leave your English at home.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Host Family
  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • 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? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The people
  • The places
  • The opportunities
* What could be improved?
  • Switch up methods of instruction
  • Introduce some variety to the lessons
  • The pollution
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Nothing. I was just ready for the experience of a lifetime and didn't have too many expectations.

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!