I’ve kept thinking to myself “What the hell am I doing here?” China is an unexpected country to do a study abroad. However, students might be missing out if they don’t take the gamble.
College is no longer a place of self-discovery and “finding yourself” but rather a major invest. Constantly changing your major can be costly, trust me I been there. Growing up I wanted to be a pilot so in college I went to flight school, after a semester I switched majors.
Studying in a different country can be life changing, you get to immerse yourself in a different culture, try interesting foods and make life long friends.
Studying in China has allowed me to grow as a person, develop different perspectives and adapt new ways of thinking all on a small budget.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Which City Is Right Me?
This will depend on what you want to get out of your time abroad. If you are a business major it would make more sense to go to a tier one city like Shanghai or Hong Kong. The course load if set up for business majors. These cities are also more international friendly, meaning you can easily navigate without speaking Mandarin or Cantonese.
Do your research on the city that you plan on going though. If you are more interested in language and culture than I would recommend Chengdu. This is the city that I’ve been for the past year.
Chengdu’s courses are focused more on culture and language. If you have an interest in learning multiple languages than I would recommend this online program. I’ve found this method of learning to be more practical and useful.
How Much Does It Cost?
Finance is a big contributing factor in deciding which country to study abroad. I was originally going to study in Oslo, Norway but that didn’t work out so I b-lined into the China program. Studying in China was a lot cheaper than studying in Oslo and my Chinese tuition was less than I was paying in the States.
This equals extra beer money. This doesn’t mean that you are sacrificing your accommodations either. I lived in a one-bedroom apartment in the middle of the city for the whole year. You can find a fully furnished apartment in center of city at a reasonable price.
How Do They Treat International Students?
Foreigner privilege actually exists! Governmental regulations favor international students. The Chinese government will offer scholarships to foreign students. The scholarships offered will most likely be discussed in orientation.
Being a foreigner you are also treated like a celebrity. No joke, people will stop you on the streets and ask to take pictures with you. You’re benefiting from being a novelty.
Other privileges include no cover charge at most clubs. The majority of clubs and even some bars will offer free drinks to foreigners, be careful though some places use fake “baijiu” (Chinese Liquor).
How Safe Is It?
Violent crimes in China are low or at least we didn’t hear about any, this is partly due to mass censorship. Petty theft is more common but your more likely to be ripped off at the open market than anything else.
During my study abroad one of students in my group got their wallet stolen. They had their wallet in the side of their backpack pocket. You are pretty much asking to be robbed in that case.
Can I Work Part-Time?
It’s insane how much you can make as a part time English teacher. Since Chinese culture puts a lot of emphasize on education this translates to a high depend for English tutors.
The salary ranges from $15-35 dollars an hour and this is without a teaching degree. A tutoring job is fairly easy to obtain. Don’t settle for any below $15. Being a foreigner also helps in networking because a lot local business leaders hangout at the foreign bars.
How Is The Food?
You can find all types of foods. Since China has 55 recognized minority groups, this is evident in the food. The food will change regionally and each part of China has their own regionally specialty.
The Chinese diet is largely of a plant-based. There are plenty of options for vegans and vegetarians also. However the diet is changing due to westernization. You will find western restaurants if you have any cravings of home.
One thing to note is that the food delivery system in China is exceptional. You can have fast food delivered to your door with the swipe of a fingertip. Remember eating in China is a marathon not a sprint. Some of the dinners might 3 hours.
How Is The Education System?
China is a fascinating country with a rich history and an unknown future. If you like history this is a great country for it. You really don’t appreciate the richness of Chinese history unless you study here, visiting historical sites and talking with locals.
China is still rapidly developing and changing which makes it a great time to visit. The higher education system is also developing and adapting to the feedback of foreign students. You will not only see Chinas education system changing before your eyes but you will also be part of that change.
The teacher and student dynamic is also different in China. You are a lot closer to your teacher and will go to lunch with them.
How Are The People?
The people are amazing. They are some most generous people that I have met since I been traveling. They love getting to know you, learning about your culture as well as teaching you about theirs. I have made lifelong friends during my study abroad and I think you will have similar experiences.
The Lack Of Creativity & How You Can Benefit
There is a need for creative types of all sorts. China lacks creativity and innovation due to their education system, which rewards students for following the rules and regurgitating information.
Since China’s future is uncertain and their cultural fabric is not woven, you get to dictate their future. China quickly embraces new ideas and innovators.
While I was there they introduced city bikes, bikes around the city that you can rent with an app. The country is looking for innovators to come and start business.