Past Review

By (Asian and Asian American Studies, SUNY - Binghamton) for

SUNY Binghamton: Suzhou - Exchange & Study Abroad Program at Soochow University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I am very grateful for my opportunity to study abroad in Suzhou. While there, I tried to take advantage of everything that was offered to me and I made an effort to speak Chinese all the time. I learned so much about people of other countries, while also trying to give a good impression of Americans and what our culture is like to others. My experience there was very unique and I surely would not have learned all that I did and met all of the wonderful people that I did if I hadn’t gone.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Soochow University
The term and year this program took place: Fall 2009

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The grading system and teaching methods were pretty similar. I think that the workload was a little bit more than I am used to, but it was manageable. Also, since I was in a higher level class, all of the instruction was in Chinese (Most of my teachers could not even speak English if I needed them to explain something). But this was not necessarily a bad thing; it made me more dependent on myself and made me work harder on my own to find out things I didn't understand in class.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

There was basically one person in the administration who dealt with the foreign students. She was helpful, but it just seemed like it was too much for her to handle at points, and sometimes she was too busy to help us with our needs.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

It was a nice dorm. Two of us lived together and there was a bathroom in our room. <br /><br /> It was convenient because it was on campus and close to the classrooms, but I also had many friends who lived off campus and they had really nice apartments for a similarly low price.

* Food:

O loved everything I ate and I tried many new things that I wouldn't have the chance to in America. I don't have any dietary restrictions, so I tried everything that presented to me. I even ate dog, live octopus, and silk worm cocoons.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The program arranged a couple of events which were performance nights for the international students. But we did not really have any events that incorporated the Chinese students, which I think could have been more beneficial for our learning purposes.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I pretty much felt safe the whole time. I think people were more threatened by me as a foreigner than I was of them. I did not have any health issues, so I'm not sure how accessible healthcare was.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I did not spend much at all. Most of my money was spent on food; at the campus a meal was as cheap as 6 yuan, which is less than one American dollar. I also had to buy things like toiletries and souvenirs, which was also relatively cheap.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I was unaware of housing fee of about 4,00 yuan. For some reason I thought it was already paid for when I got there. Also, everything that is paid for at the school must be in cash, so traveler checks should be converted as soon as a student gets there so they are prepared.


Language acquisition improvement?

My language skills improved very much, from class instruction, talking to other students, watching performances and just dealing with people on an everyday basis. Very few people spoke fluent English, so it made it easier to practice my Chinese because in some situations I had no choice, so I had to use the few words that I already knew to try to express myself. From these types of situations I learned more words and colloquial phrases. The people I talked to the most were my friends who were mostly Korean, Japanese, and Laotian. Since they could not speak English, Chinese was the common language between all of us.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

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  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

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  • International Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Honestly, any student learning Chinese can benefit from this program.