The world doesn't revolve around you. Past Review

By (University of San Francisco) - abroad from 08/12/2013 to 12/16/2013 with

The Beijing Center: Semester and Full Year Abroad

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The language, relationships, see above. It was worth its weight in gold.

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I learned A LOT--language, history, and even more outside the classroom, interacting with China as a whole.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I liked it bc they encouraged us to do stuff on our own. And we're all adults, so the idea of hand-holding just seemed ridiculous.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Great roommate (who I'm still friends with), and very autonomous living.

* Food:

I mean, we had to get food on our own, and the cafeteria food was good I guess, but I left campus to eat.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I don't think this is necessarily the fault of the program, I think culturally speaking, this is going to be difficult anywhere. What I did not like was that the attitude of some really reflected us poorly.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Great insurance, got sick, went to the doctor, all good. Pretty easy to figure out.

* Safety:

As long as you didn't do anything dumb, you were fine. Some people did really dumb shit.

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

I learned the language, created life-long relationships (both with people in my program, locals, and other expats). The classes were challenging and required more discipline I feel, than most universities in the states.


* 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 relatively inexpensive, especially if you know how to budget. I mostly did stuff off-campus too, which I think is a better reflection on how far your money can go.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $200, but I was going out a lot
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Spend your money on what you want to focus on. I was about the city experience, so I forewent a lot of the touristy trips outside the city (a lot of the cool stuff is included in our program anyway, in the trips from the beginning of the semester), and focused on things like going out, free museums, and making expat friends who knew about cheap places and deals. Getting a transport card saves a lot of money as well, and makes it easier for you to get around. Additionally, for shopping, I wouldn't really focus on that. Most of the stuff we have in the US is made in China anyway, and as far as cost goes, it's a pretty minimal difference when you count quality and ease of transport back home.


* 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 were left to our own devices, so it was IMPERATIVE that we learn Mandarin in order to maximise our experience.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? None in Mandarin.
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? Go out. There's no better way to practice than being lost somewhere and having a fire under your ass to get back home. Beijing is super safe anyway, so it's not like anything really bad will happen to you if you don't do anything stupid.

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?
  • Autonomy
  • Language support
  • Travel opportunities
* What could be improved?
  • Discussion of cultural openness to AMERICAN students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Bring towels. Towels in China are thin af, and tiny.