My Chinese improved enormously, but I still don't know Beijing. September 17, 2017

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 06/23/2017 to 08/18/2017 with

Princeton University: Beijing - Princeton in Beijing, Summer

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a lot more confidence in my language abilities in a native environment. I think in addition to learning from a textbook, I am also more comfortable expressing myself with strangers in which they decide our topics.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The program is obviously academically rigorous as the objective of the program is to improve your Chinese language skills. You should fully expect to be working most of the day during the school week.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program was very well run and the administrators always made to guarantee that the program was well structured.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Our foreign dorm in some aspects was superior to my Brandeis dorm. There was a convenience store on the second floor with plenty of snacks and a 24 hour study room. Unfortunately, there was no kitchen and the laundry services were lacking. Also the beds were tough and the bathroom was lacking.

* Food:

Chinese food is extremely delicious and cheap. Within the area of Beijing Normal University, there were many Chinese and foreign restaurants. I enjoyed eating out, but ended up putting on weight.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Chinese people always spoke to me in Mandarin and I felt very accepted into the local community. The program organizers guaranteed that we understood Chinese culture and Beijing's identity.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

A couple of classmates had health issues ranging from food sickness to general discomfort. Occasionally our program assisted these students in finding help, but I think the teacher's could improve in this aspect.

* Safety:

Beijing is an extremely safe city. I never felt that I was at risk, even when walking around at night.

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

Students who chose PiB should understand that this program is a 24/7 classroom experience. While the experience is indeed rigorous, students language abilities will improve more than they can imagine.


* 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 extremely cheap city, you can easily buy a meal for 15RMB. Also, you get two free lunches with teachers.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent about $100 a week.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I'd encourage students to eat out at many different restaurants to learn more about Chinese food, but to create a breakfast routine that you can do everyday.


* 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

PiB has a language pledge component, so we only spoke Chinese. At first the language pledge was an issue, but my classmates and I gradually adjusted to the rule. Teachers were accepting of our mistakes and encouraged us to constantly improve and learn.

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 105
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? PiB requires you to write out characters, so before the program review Chinese characters.

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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Language pledge
  • Classroom Setting
  • Chinese table
* What could be improved?
  • Fieldtrips
  • Lack of free time
  • Lack of interactions with locals
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Unfortunately, this program doesn't provide students with adequate opportunities to travel within Beijing and to other areas of China. If you want to learn more about Beijing and other areas, I suggest that you arrive a couple of weeks early to explore the nation.

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!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

CHI 403C and 404C

Course Department: PiB
Instruction Language: Mandarin Chinese
Comments: This course is incredibly challenging. Even if you were a perfect student at your home university, you will still struggle. However, your Chinese speaking skills will improve tremendously.
Credit Transfer Issues: