Fall Semester in Beijing - LIFE CHANGING Past Review

By (Music, Education, Chinese, North Central College) - abroad from 08/24/2015 to 12/18/2015 with

Study Abroad Programs in China

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Completely worthwhile! I learned a lot more Chinese and a lot about the Chinese culture. I was not expecting to become much more independent, confident, outgoing, and aware of the world around me.

Review Photos

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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.

I learned SO MUCH from my Chinese class, but it was a lot of work. I wasn't prepared for the amount of homework/studying that would happen outside the classroom.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program administration drastically improved throughout the entire program. There were many great opportunities that were organized for the students through the administrators.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The dorms were in a great location on campus, near the subway and bus stops. We had our own bathroom, TV, and refrigerator. I wish I had the opportunity to have a Chinese roommate, it would have improved my language skills even more.

* Food:

Personally, I don't like Chinese food (I know, I'm crazy!). It was also very difficult to eat vegetarian at times.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I made a lot of local friends by being involved on campus, I volunteered and played in an orchestra with local Chinese students.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I visited the doctor twice in Beijing, and ended up having to pay out of pocket because my insurance money was instantly used up. I got very ill from traveling to a rural area, and was affected by the air pollution. But the doctor's office is great, their English is perfect, and I felt very safe and comfortable visiting the doctor the Alliance program recommended.

* Safety:

I felt much safer in China than I do in large U.S. cities. Just be aware of your belongings and watch out for the traffic!

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

The only change I would make would be to study in the 'Intensive Program' instead of the 'Popular Culture and Social Change'. I spent a lot of time focusing on English-based classes, but I loved the Chinese components from my language classes!

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)

Because I don't care for Chinese food, I spent more on food than most participants. Public transportation is very affordable, and you can often find good deals while shopping.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I saved a lot of money by only using cash. I would withdraw a larger amount(1,000-2,000) of RMB from the ATM (to avoid more fees) and have that last an entire month for everything I would buy--- food, books, transportation, souvenirs, etc.

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 pushed myself to speak as much Chinese as possible, and had a lot of support from the teachers and administration.

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 203 (six trimesters at the college level)
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? Make local friends to practice with!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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?
  • Trips throughout the semester
  • Volunteering opportunities
  • Chinese classes
* What could be improved?
  • Initial organization
  • More communication/organization regarding English taught classes
  • More opportunities to meet local friends
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Come prepared with extra money so you can take every opportunity that you are given! My most memorable experiences happened outside of the classroom!

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!