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CISabroad participants CISabroad participants
Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    5

  • Living Situation

    2

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health and Safety

    6

  • Social Life

    9

An Interesting Semester at UIBE

First, UIBE is not a typical Beijing university, and the courses you study there are not the same as what local students take. I was surprised to find my classes full of foreigners, and adjusted for, er, "foreign" tastes. I expect Chinese students' classes are much harder than what we had. However, the foreign aspect of UIBE was also what made my semester in Beijing so interesting. Not only was I fully immersed in Beijing's local culture, but I was also meeting people from more countries than I had ever dreamt of. My roommates were Italian and Moroccan, for one. I was able to learn from them what it's like to be Muslim in China, or what aspects of Chinese culture clashed with Italian culture. My experience was made much more diverse due to the nature of the university.

As for the program, Alice, our coordinator in Beijing, called me regularly to chat and brought us to places around Beijing on the weekends. She even helped us out when one of the CISabroad students got food poisoning, and when I had my fever. She was consistently a huge help for all of us, and did her best to help the CISabroad students bond over the course of the semester.

Terrible weather, good food, and countless stomach flus later, I think it all balanced out. Would I live in Beijing in the future? I think I'll stick with sunny California. Was it worth it to go this semester? Definitely.

Academics:
Morning language course teachers were very good, and the classes were useful. The afternoon courses were very lax, with many students goofing off during class. Some of the professors seemed like they were reading off of other people's slides, and did nothing to maintain order in the classroom. The projects weren't very interesting (in one class, the project felt irrelevant to the course) and people who obviously slacked off got the same grade as those who had impeccable presentations. Lots of easy A's, not much homework, a lot of overlapping generic "China for Tourists" information. On the plus side, teachers were all very friendly and helpful during breaks and after class.

Living Situation:
Many of us foreign students were put into the local students' dorm, which had no private restrooms and terrible amenities. Noise complaints were completely ignored, and as a result, there would be foreign students yelling and screaming well past midnight, making it difficult to wake early for my morning classes that began at 8am. The restrooms were dirty and half the sinks were usually taken up by the students' laundry, because the laundry room was close to impossible to use (due to the convoluted coin payment system).

Cultural Immersion:
Aside from the enormous foreign student population on campus, the local area was very good for cultural immersion. Many of the streets around the school had great local food, boutiques, and demonstrated really authentic Chinese culture.

Program Administration:
Didn't get to meet my advisor until the last week of my program, but that was due to her health and understandable.

Health and Safety:
Had a thief try to snatch my phone, another stuck his hand in my pocket. Someone tried to grope me at a subway station. Still, that's basically the extent of things in Beijing- there are rarely any violent crimes, so just watch out for your belongings and you'll be ok.

Social Life:
Can't complain! Had lots of friends, went out very often.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    5

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

Why China and why CIS Abroad

When considering options for study abroad, China may be one option that is underrated. The countryside and landscapes are beautiful. The culture is rich with history and traditions that are worth exploring and learning about first hand. While many are preoccupied with how different the East is from the West, getting to know local people and their thought processes will undoubtedly remind any foreign traveler how similar we all are in the end.

Academics:
The academic rigor is naturally higher in the language studies over the cultural and business courses (taught in English). The teachers are competent and qualified to teach their respective subjects.

Living Situation:
Foreign students experience accommodations on campus that are suitable for a semester of study abroad. It can be difficult at times to resolve questions or concerns without someone to translate - even basic things like washing clothes, paying utilities, or clogged toilet for example (but there is help). If you live off campus, you are pretty much on your own.

Cultural Immersion:
Cultural immersion is a natural consequence of studying in China. On the flip side, CIS Abroad did a fine job with preparation to receive the full benefit of such an experience. The online pre-departure videos were very helpful. More of those recommended for future travelers. (Language videos, Beijing videos, UIBE campus and daily life videos, etc.)

Program Administration:
The administrative staff overall is strong. I would like to see admin in the West communicate more with reps in the East on behalf of the student. If any major changes happen while student is abroad (stateside rep changes, financial changes, program changes), student should be notified by administration well in advance.

Health and Safety:
Beijing and other places I visited in the East felt very safe. Travelers should, however, always use general caution.

Social Life:
Beijing is a major city with plenty of daytime activities as well as nightlife. As with anywhere one visits, much of the social experience is dependent on personality and character of the individual.

Overall Rating

6/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    3

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

China was excellent, the assistance could have been a little better from our program

the trip was awesome and the cultural immersion was outstanding. overall awesome experience.

Health and Safety:
100% safe.

Social Life:
best part of the trip was the social life