The Best Four Months of My Life August 08, 2014

By (Elon University) - abroad from 08/12/2012 to 12/19/2014 with

Loyola University Chicago: Beijing - The Beijing Center

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This was the most rewarding experience of my life. It changed my heart forever and I will be forever grateful to TBC for giving that to me. Being in China for 4 months made me realize I could do absolutely anything, it gave me friends that I will have for the rest of my life and people to visit all over the world. I cannot recommend this program more.

Review Photos

Loyola University Chicago: Beijing - The Beijing Center Photo Loyola University Chicago: Beijing - The Beijing Center Photo Loyola University Chicago: Beijing - The Beijing Center Photo Loyola University Chicago: Beijing - The Beijing Center Photo Loyola University Chicago: Beijing - The Beijing Center Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The academics were difficult but they were all centered around things that I love and was very interested in. TBC always pushed me but never to a point that I couldn't handle. The teachers and staff were more than helpful, always available, and constantly encouraging us to take control of our own education, to go out into the city and learn hands on what was happening in China.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I cannot say enough good things about the TBC staff. We were a family for the four months I was there and the fathers and teachers were ALWAYS there if I needed anything, even if that was just a home cooked American meal. Everything was always organized incredibly and ran smoothly.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

This is China, just to be clear, so the living arrangements are never going to be five star. But for China they were very good. I shared a room with a roommate from the US and we had our own balcony and bathroom, with a kitchen right down the hall. The best part about our arrangements were the international students all around us. I had the opportunity to meet people from all around the world just from sitting outside the dorm or cooking in the communal kitchen.

* Food:

I really loved the food. We had the opportunity to eat in the cafeteria (1-2$) and even there they had some great meals. Or to just step a few feet outside the campus and have a hundred restaurants to choose from (4-10$). You do have to be a bit adventurous to eat in China but I promise it is worth it because the food is incredible. And SO cheap!!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We were living in the middle of one of the biggest Chinese universities in Beijing. Everywhere we went were were forced into the local culture. I could practice my language everywhere. I learned more about Chinese culture and language in those 4 months than 3 years of learning back at my home university. TBC also gives you a personal Chinese tutor who is there for you to practice your language with and show you around the city.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had any health issues while I was in Beijing. I did need a few vaccinations before I left because we did go into rural areas on our trips but I never felt at risk.

* Safety:

China is one of the safest cities in the world, if you are smart. I never felt unsafe, I could walk home at 3 in the morning and never feel uncomfortable. Crime is very low in China, but that is because punishment is extremely severe. Do not draw attention to yourself as a foreigner and you should be fine, and never break any laws or there will be extremely dangerous consequences. If you listen to the programs advice than you will never have any problems!

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

Finances

* 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 SO inexpensive. It is very easy to eat a great meal for under 3 dollars.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Usually around 50 dollars
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat at the cafeteria, you can get a good meal for under 2 dollars. But even outside the school there are great restaurants where you can eat for under 4 dollars. Try to avoid Western restaurants and tourist places, they can be very expensive!

Language

* 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

I had class 4 days a week for 3 hours a day, TBC also gave me a personal tutor to practice my language with and they always pushed us to go and speak to real people. I learned way more Chinese there than I did in 4 years of learning in the US.

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? None
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? It is SO easy in China to practice Chinese. Its not like Europe where everyone speaks English and will respond to you in English, you will need a basic level of Chinese to do anything so simple things like going to the store, getting in a taxi, or ordering at a restaurant will throw you into the language. But don't worry, the skill comes quickly!

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
  • 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?
  • The Administration
  • The Students
  • The Trips
* What could be improved?
  • Nothing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Nothing, going in head first and having no idea how crazy this experience is was part of the fun!

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'