The Time of Your Life Past Review

By (The University of Texas at Austin) - abroad from 08/26/2015 to 12/11/2015 with

CET Beijing

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained so much confidence in my Chinese, refined my understanding of the culture and politics, became familiar with the nuances of Chinese culture, made so many friends international and local, and was able to travel and soak up China as best I could. My personal growth was also highlighted in leadership skills and networking skills. The semester was beyond worthwhile and has profound impact on who I am now.

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.

This program allowed me to see into China, put me in touch with fantastic people, created experiences and friendships I will always treasure, improve my language and gain confidence. That being said, there are a few ways it could be improved.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

From the Academic Director to the Resident Director to the fantastic assistant, the staff was helpful, engaging, outgoing, friendly, and more than happy to meet with you for a cup of coffee and share stories of their amazing experiences.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

This is China. My expectations for a dorm weren't high, and I don't believe expectations for dorms should ever be high, regardless of the country. That being said, the rooms were spacious, comfortable, accommodating, and modern. The bathrooms were large and functional. The lobby has many couches and 5G wifi. They also sell wifi cards for your rooms but this is not a very good deal. The washers work but will tear up your clothes so bring mesh bags to keep them together, and there are no dryers that work but never fear, racks are available for rent and we shared them. Many students arranged to have water delivered to their door. It was a cozy place to call home in Beijing!

* Food:

Beijing has tons of lovely food. The cafeteria on campus is cheap and delish, featuring all types of food from kimchi to curry to dumplings to hot pot. There are good restaurants around campus too, and the best way to get a good deal when eating out is to go with friends so you can all share dishes family style. We would have "family dinner" once a week with just the CET students so that everyone could have a time to share experiences and vent or catch up. It usually came out to 20-30 kuai a person and we had a lot of food! The lobby also has a convenience store which has many foreign products, that's where I usually got my breakfast, and 3 kuai cold coffee drink and a 6 kuai imported granola bar.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It is what you make it on this one. if you stick to campus and the international community this is not going to be very high. But between the internship program and a curious individual, I was able to feel like I could see a lot more of the culture. The internship class was also helpful in this aspect. I know some students had a very steep curve as far as culture shock, but all in all it's only a few months, so throw yourself in, go explore on your own or with new Chinese friends. Take a trip on the weekends - it doesn't have to be far. Ride the sleeper train, take the bus, commute, go to as many events as you can, explore Beijing! There is something for everyone here and pick something you would like to know more about and ask questions. Don't be afraid of getting lost.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

There were not health issues for me. I worked out about 3-5 times a week, even running in heavy pollution with my mask and didn't experience much more than mild reportorial effects. I had friends who used the international hospitals and they are top notch.

* Safety:

I walked and used public transportation every day, many days by myself. I usually felt very safe, and when I didn't I could sense it and be cautious. The most unsafe environment felt like huge crowds as far as pick-pocketing. However, I did not have anything stolen. I always kept my purse zipped, the men in our program would keep their wallet in their front pocket in crowded subways etc, and we would do a good job of staying aware of our surroundings.

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)

Beijing is an international city, there are many fun things to do, restaurants to try out, places to see, and I traveled about once or twice a month, with a week long travel in the Fall break. Meals could be anywhere from 6kuai to 30kuai, but I averaged about 10-12 kuai a meal.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Find a good phone plan, don't buy the dorm internet Plan your travel and budget for it Eat at the cafeteria


* 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

This is also what you make it, but they were encouraging on language use and because of this I ended up taking a voluntary language pledge two days of the week.

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? Advanced Conversational Chinese
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? Talk to your taxi driver, only speak Chinese to your roommate, hang out with Chinese friends, go out for coffee or lunch 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
  • Americans
  • International 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 Connections it provided
  • Academic Classes
  • Opportunity to Intern
* What could be improved?
  • The internet situation
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known how international Beijing was going to be and how the classes would allow me to have time to travel. Coming from a very rigorous course background where I was always taking language on top of a full course load and heading up student organizations at UT, this semester allowed me to really focus on exploring the city and the country, and making and growing relationships.

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!