Incredible! Past Review

By (International Relations And Global Studies, Brandeis University) - abroad from 06/21/2013 to 08/18/2013 with

Princeton University: Beijing - Princeton in Beijing, Summer

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I can't begin to explain all that I've learned from this program. It's much more than a language summer program. It was honestly life changing, because I knew I wouldn't return to America the same person. I have made such amazing friends with such great ambitions! I have learned how to handle adversity, motivate myself to be my best, and to help and encourage others. However, that doesn't even begin to cover it. At PIB you will be taught to step out of your comfort zone, do something new, face your fears and most importantly, how to speak Chinese! Trust me. By the time you leave your Chinese will not be the only thing that will have changed. Your entire outlook on life with have altered completely. You will feel very empowered, because you made it through a very challenging time. Going to PIB is very much worth while! Learning about China, meeting incredible people, growing individually, helping others grow and making long long long lasting memories is only the start.

Review Photos

Princeton University: Beijing - Princeton in Beijing, Summer Photo Princeton University: Beijing - Princeton in Beijing, Summer Photo Princeton University: Beijing - Princeton in Beijing, Summer Photo Princeton University: Beijing - Princeton in Beijing, Summer Photo Princeton University: Beijing - Princeton in Beijing, Summer Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Princeton in Beijing is extremely rigorous. The workload is pretty heavy and it often causes a rather stressful atmosphere. The teachers are all very dedicated and truly care about your Chinese development, so they can sometimes be a bit strict. However, given the chance, they can help your Chinese grow and you as a person grow as well. A common day begins at 8 am with four hours of class. First a small quiz, then 2 hours of lecture then 2 hours of drilling (to make sure you remember what you learned. Even though we usually don't). After that you may have a break or you may have Chinese table. Which is when a randomly chosen professor takes you out to lunch. PIB's treat! After that, you'll have a one hour individual session. You can casually talk, go over grammar, or practice for an upcoming oral presentation. Once that is finished, the evening is yours. Well, the evening is yours to study, because there's 50 new words to study, about 21 grammar points and two or three pages of assigned reading. It is intense, but once you get used to it, you won't think about it so much. Once a week we also had Oral presentations. During the weekend you write an essay, then memorize it for your presentation. Not that bad. You only have to present in front of 4 or 5 people, so don't be worried! That takes points of from your pronunciation! At the end of every week we had an exam. It's about the size of your average midterm exam and it usually takes about 3 hours to complete. No worries though! Take your time and really think about each question and you'll be fine! Every 2 hours during class we change teachers. So you NEVER have the same teacher for all four hours. This allows you to hear several different accents and allows you to become comfortable when speaking to different kinds of people. You will also change classmates every week. However, every week you will only have 4 other classmates. This is to make sure everyone is learning at the same pace. No one is allowed to hide in the back or get away with not coming to class (unless you are too sick to function)! 2nd years use one book called New China, but the 3rd years go through two books in 8 weeks! Each book is difficult, but very effective! Lessons are pretty interesting and most of the time will get you talking! So don't be shy! My advice would be don't worry about not being perfect the first week. Remember to focus on your own personal development and not compare yourself to other people! Stay focused and do the best you can, but don't stress yourself until your laying on your back on a hospital bed. Frustration is normal. In fact, the first week I was so frustrated I didn't want to talk to a soul, but put your self out there a bit. Never give up trying, and eventually your gonna get it!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The housing was wonderful. They put us in the Study Abroad students dorm, which was basically the lap of luxury in Beijing. While Chinese student's dorms had about 6 people in one room, Xingsong Gongyu is a double room with it's own bathroom, tv, fridge, air conditioner, desks and night stands. There's a kitchen down stairs that has a sink, microwave and several hot plates (or whatever you call them) for your convenience. They also have washing machines and a dryer, which is a big deal in China. However, beware the dyer was broken the entire trip and did not dry any clothes at all. However, you can dry your clothes in your room by hanging them up by the window or in your wardrobe. The room basically looked like a hotel. The bathrooms were alright. If you are a neat freak, you might not be too happy because you might find it a bit dirty. Only a bit!! Nothing to keep you from living your life I assure you. I recommend bringing Lysol or other disinfectants if you are easily made uncomfortable.

* Food:

Food was great! There are many restaurants within the area that are both delicious and affordable. If you just want some American food, (don't be ashamed. After a while you'll crave it) there's a McDonalds literally a five minutes walk away. There is also a KFC (which is delicious!), but it's a bit far. It's about 15 or 20 minute walk. Not terrible. My favorite places are the cafes. They are always the best places to eat and study. You can buy snacks and teas relatively inexpensively. (Sprite 10 RMB, popcorn 15 RMB, sandwhiches 20 RMB) You can also buy a pot of tea (my favorite is fruit tea) for about 40 RMB. It's very safe to eat because it is very clean. The owners are very hygienic. There is also a western style restaurant called Lakers (no affiliation what so ever with the basketball team), but I heard that only the pizza is worth trying. There are several Xiao Tan's or food stands set up outside of the East gate (which has the most restaurants) but be careful. Food stands are notorious for being the cause of people's illnesses. I got sick from eating too many Baozi's from the food stand and now I avoid it like the plague! If you have no reaction, you can go ahead and go for it (I envy you), but if you do, I suggest you don't eat it anymore. Ain't nobody got time for hospital visits!!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

As soon as we arrived, I felt like a Chinese student just living in Beijing like everybody else. Because your not allowed to speak English, you really feel integrated into the culture. Whether you Chinese is super boss or not, you will immediately feel like a Chinese student as soon as classes begin. The local life is also not that difficult to get used to. It's pretty urban, so those of you from big cities will acclimate just fine. Even if your not, you will find that you will quickly get used to being in Beijing, even though there are several things that throw you WAY out of your comfort zone. I learned to embrace these things, because I had to live with them for two months!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Health is a BIG deal. If you feel like you are catching something TELL SOMEONE IMMEDIATELY. I cannot stress this enough. PIB had specific people set aside to handle these emergencies. They will carry you to the hospital, take you to go buy medicine and make sure you stay healthy on the trip. There were a couple of clinics available all hours. A popular one is called SOS. They speak English, take credit cards and have very clean facilities, however are very expensive. I rushed there because I was having an allergic reaction to something I ate before. My throat was closing up and I sores all over my body. I was a mess, but they were very friendly. They gave me couple shots and I was good as new! If you have seasonal allergies or any kind of allergy and take medicine like Zertech or Benydryl. I suggest you take them every night, so your not drowsy during the daytime.

* Safety:

I was very afraid before I went to Beijing that I'd get picked by a pick pocket or something, but that wasn't the case at all! It is very safe. There are always policemen patrolling and people guarding the entrance to Xinsong Gongyu (my dorm). There are instances where people have had they're phones picked from their pockets, but I've only heard of that happening at clubs, so....

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)

Living in China is SUPER cheap. 100 RMB (roughly 16 dollars) will last you several days! You can buy clothes, food, taxi rides, books and other necessities for ten times less in the states so take advantage of the opportunity and buy cheap stuff!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $65
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you buy clothes, go to a market so you can bargain the price down to nothing. Also, if you are living on a tight budget there are several (clean) shops that you can buy a huge plate of dinner for less than 15 RMB ($2). Specifically, there is a noodle place, a Taiwanese restaurant, a Korean restaurant, McDonalds and several Chinese restaurants you can visit to pay very little money for very good food.


* 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 had to sign a language pledge which made us speak Chinese everyday. Wonderful way to get you truly immersed into a language. I feel its the only way to immerse you!

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 40 (Second year 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? At PIB you practice your Chinese every moment of every day (unless your talking to your family or yourself) so you'll get plenty of practice. However, when you study, try using some online flash cards. I'm telling you, they saved my life! It's super fast and it's super effective. Every day listen to the audio files and read along. Also, always look at the grammar the day before you go to class. They post them online, so you can get a good idea of what you'll be learning. This keeps you from stumbling through class not knowing what's happening!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • 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? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Teachers
  • Students
  • Everything
* What could be improved?
  • More field trips!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew to relax and that I was not the only one struggling.

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!