Would go back to China, but would not recommend this program Past Review

By (Anonymous University) - abroad from 09/14/2016 to 12/16/2016 with

China Study Abroad Reflections: Comprehensive Reviews of Past Programs

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned Chinese. I learned about China just because I was living there. But the program was not designed to teach content and was grossly misrepresented as a program that teaches content in Chinese from my home university in the US.

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.

Incredibly rigorous, but not in a productive way. Not in a way conducive to learning Chinese in China. Program does not make good use of being in China. Besides the roommate exposure (we had Chinese roommates) and the fact that our teachers were Chinese. We did not have enough opportunities to engage with the locals. We spent the majority of our time memorizing characters. The workload was so extensive that we didn't have enough time to actually explore Beijing. We also were not given the opportunity to do so.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

On-site administration was lacking. I didn't feel comfortable seeking help when I needed it. I wanted to seek psychological help and didn't have anywhere to turn to. Many on our program wanted to seek psychological help and there was no one to go to. Program was good in that it was tailored to each individual quite well. However we were mislead by the administration on campus in the United Sates. We were told we could study the courses we wanted to in Chinese language and this was not the case. We could really only continue our study of Chinese. Which we might as well have done in the US.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Got very limited exposure to Chinese people because we lived in the international dorm. There were more Russians than Chinese. The Russians boys would accost all of the other girls in the program. I felt very uncomfortable at times and would get hollered at on a daily basis. These students were rude, obnoxious, much older than us, and infringed on our personal space by approaching us and intimidating us. They were almost always drunk. The roommate aspect of this program has the potential to be wonderful and very enriching; however, I only know of one person on our program out of 13 people who had a good experience with their roommate. My roommate left me one month into the program. She never told me anything about why she had left, but I can guess it was because she moved in with her new boyfriend. There is not a system set up to give feedback on the roommates because if you were to get your roommate replaced then the next one would know that you had requested a change, which would make the new roommate situation very tense. The on-site Administration didn't seem to give any of us the opportunity to really change our roommates. One Chinese roommate of my peer had a massive drinking problem. One roommate was a graduate student and therefore also not there. The roommates would all spend the majority of their days in bed playing video games and didn't really want to engage with us. There needs to be a better system in place to ensure that the roommates aren't coming into the program just because they want the nicer living quarters. (they are provided nicer living quarters because they are living with foreigners). The roommates should be people who want to engage with international students and show them around. This was not the case for 12 out of the 13 roommates selected for this semester. Something is wrong.

* Food:

Loved the Food.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Almost not integrated at all. No one there felt integrated. Even if we all looked for ways to integrate ourselves. It was almost impossible. The roommates or on-site staff did not help.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

program? I had no issues. I don't think I am well enough informed about the Chinese medical care available to say anything. I had extreme trouble applying for a reentry visa because the only hospital that provides them is 1 hour from campus and only open between 9 and 11 am twice a week. Right when I had class.

* Safety:

very safe. No issues. Always ripped off by everyone all the time, but that didn't make it unsafe. China its self is not unsafe. The dorm room felt unsafe because of the Russians who were rude to women.

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

I felt that I could have studied the way I did in China through this program in the US. This program made very limited use of actually being in China. The way the program is designed does very little to stimulate the mind. There is an enormous focus on Memorizing. A better job needs to be done of integrating the learning of Chinese language and the learning of China and Chinese politics and culture and society. You should be able to accomplish both those goals through a program like this. But the way it is designed you are just learning vacab, grammar, and sentence structures to the exclusion of learning any content. Regardless of the negative aspects of this program was, my Chinese certainly improved.


* 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)

Very easy.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $75
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? not needed. it's 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

intensive language study.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
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? 302 Advanced Chinese
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? Tv Shows?

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

  • Local 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?
  • Food
  • quality of professors
  • traveling
* What could be improved?
  • The method of teaching
  • the integration with local students
  • Provision of mental support resources
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That you will only be learning language to the exclusion of content. There isn't enough time to learn content of the courses you are being taught. You are also forced to memorize how to write so many characters every day that you don't have time to learn the actual meaning of the characters. You also don't have any incentive to learn the meaning of the characters (besides the Chinese Politics class) because that is never tested. There will be no mental support provided to you if you are in need.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Experience Beijing

Course Department: Chinese
Instructor: All professors (they rotated)
Instruction Language: Chinese
Comments: Absolute waste of time. Very little learning. The premise of the course is good. But more engaging topics need to be chosen. Why couldn't we discuss the topics we were learning instead of just learning how to use some of the words and the vocabulary. Why couldn't we learn because we wanted to learn about China through Chinese. So much of this entire program was just pure language learning in China. The fact that we wanted to learn about China was an afterthought. Why come to China if you just want to learn Chinese at the exclusion of learning about China. Also this class was so incredibly boring and dull and the professors all seemed to hate it as well. No tests. No incentive to learn. A total waste of time.
Credit Transfer Issues: No.
Course Name/Rating:


Course Department: Chinese
Instructor: Ting Laoshi
Instruction Language: Chinese
Comments: Very challenging, but this course was misrepresented to all of us. We were told the on-site university would find a professor who was very knowledgable about a subject of our choosing and we would spend time with them discussing this topic and become good at discussing it. This was so far from the truth. Graduate school students were chosen who were all learning to teach english. They didn't really know how to teach yet and the had no knowledge of course content (in most cases even less knowledge about the subject of the course than the students themselves). This felt like a bonafide tutor. We struggled to communicate. Spent a lot of time trying to understand each other because they were new to teaching. This struggle probably taught us a lot about how Chinese people who don't have western exposure think and communicate, so maybe it was good. I loved my teacher. She was very kind and she really wanted to help me in whatever way possible. I will stay in touch with her. This course should not have been portrayed so inaccurately to all of us. It felt sub-par and it felt like a waste of time. Too much time was spent learning vocabulary that we would then never use enough to learn properly. If this course is supposed to just be teaching us language acquisition: 1.) We should have been told that at the beginning of the program. 2.) It did a poor job of teaching us that. We were given 30-40 characters twice a week and we would go over them once with the university student and then that was it. We would have the opportunity to use very few of these characters in the 3 essays we wrote. We were never tested on our understanding of the character and the ways to use it. Instead we were tested on our ability to write it. Just because you can write a character does not mean that you know how to use it. Going over how to use the character once does not mean that you can then use it or will remember how to use it. There was no incentive to learn how to use the characters properly. There were no tests. You would have to learn just out of the pure joy of learning. And when you are so busy you are about to have a mental breakdown every day there is no learning for the joy of learning.
Credit Transfer Issues: No.
Course Name/Rating:

Advanced Spoken Chinese

Course Department: Chinese
Instructor: Tan Laoshi
Instruction Language: Chinese
Comments: Very engaging professor. I loved her. She was one of my favorite people. She was so loving and caring and really enjoyed teaching. That being said, this course was a little too easy for the students in the class.
Credit Transfer Issues: No.
Course Name/Rating:

Chinese Politics

Course Department: Chinese
Instructor: Du Laoshi
Instruction Language: Chinese
Comments: Teacher was fabulous. Very knowledgable. Very engaged. Very fantastic. Best teacher at the program; however, I wish the focus of this class had been on accumulating knowledge about China and Chinese politics as opposed to purely Chinese language. She tried to give us a little access to Chinese knowledge, but it was obvious that wasn't her primary objective. Maybe my Chinese wasn't good enough to do that yet, but then our program at Middlebury portrayed this course inaccurately.
Credit Transfer Issues: no.