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IES Abroad Beijing - Contemporary China & Chinese Language

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    5

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    10

You should study abroad in China!

Studying in Beijing and in traveling around China has allowed me to discover what it means for me to be a Chinese American with two culturally influences and upbringings. I've grown up in predominantly suburban areas going to school with mainly white kids throughout my primary education and now even into my secondary education. At the same time, I was immersed in Chinese culture through work - my parents owned a Chinese takeout restaurant and spoke Chinese at home. This semester abroad was my third time in China but my first time as a self-aware college aged independent human being. Being in Beijing and in China isn't easy but it's extremely worthwhile. As an Asian American I felt as if I could straddle the line between "blending" in or sticking out as a foreigner. Although, many people found it intriguing that my appearance belied my actual Chinese ability. I felt I received unique treatment at times but mostly I just felt like I was at home. I became extremely comfortable with the fact that only one generation removed from me was a massive ancestral line that endured for thousands of years in China. My parents had sacrificed the substance of their own young lives when they immigrated to the United States by leaving friends and families behind in order to have my and my brothers and seek our greater opportunity. Their journey was not an easy one and now I found myself sitting in my suburban home in Pennsylvania dying to wind back time so that I could have been in Beijing for a full year.

These discoveries came as a result of a mixture of structured classwork and independent time to explore on our own. The Chinese language courses were truly immersive and I saw my Chinese speaking, writing, and reading level exponentially increase. Chinese class took place everyday other than Wednesday and expectations were high. The language learning was demanding and possibly one of the most rewarding learning experiences that I've had thus far. There were times that I felt as if I was dedicating too much time to studying for grades and assessments based on tests rather than spending my time out and about. So that is definitely something to be mindful of, the need to just go out into different part of the city and just continually being surrounded the Chinese language is so important. Some of my most meaningful Chinese learning experiences came from interacting with people outside of the classroom. In that way I could learn how they would use the language, slang, and expand beyond the limitations of the classroom. Additionally, I was able to take Chinese language electives that included learning through film and business Chinese, other options included slang and reading news in Chinese. The area courses also presented a lot of exciting insights into different areas of Chinese politics, society, and economic. Additionally, I was enrolled in a Chinese calligraphy course taught by a master calligrapher Fang Laoshi. His calligraphy teacher was also the calligraphy of the last emperor of Chinese. All in all, I was most challenged by the language course and language immersion of China. Although the professors were able to provide good insight into how Chinese may view these topics and issues these courses felt complementary and didn't require a lot of work or have homework which was definitely a positive!

China is a crazy diverse country! Beijing was an amazing mixture of traditional Chinese culture and history as well as a booming and rapidly changing and influential international vibe. There's literally so much to do. Museums, cultural sites, sporting events, beer festivals, music, clubs with school, and exploring! It would take forever to explore all of Beijing. On one day I could get some delicious Chinese food from a hole in the wall for way cheap and on another I could go to a big and nice restaurant where things cost a little more. The best part is Beijing is a hub for cuisines and flavors from all throughout China and Asia. Even better is that you can get foods from all around the world! I firmly believe that some of the best pizza i've ever had has been in Beijing. Also beer is cheap! Open containers are a go! But be respectful... our American dollars are exchanging at nearly a 1 to 7 ratio. Also the craft beer scene in Beijing really surprised me. I love beer and getting to taste beers in China that have Chinese ingredients was mind-blowing. I had so much fun.

I think if YOU study abroad in China with the IES program you can have as much fun and learn as much as I did. You will make lifelong friends from all different places in the United States and as well as China and Asia and hopefully the world. You will eat amazing food and try new stuff you've never had before. You will then think about the food you've had on a daily basis when you leave China. You will learn an absurd amount of Chinese language that you will be surprised at how you even did that. You will be challenged in many ways but you will come out the end as a more intelligent, grateful, and better person.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Beijing: An amazing experience abroad!

For anyone who has ever studied Mandarin Chinese and is interested in studying abroad in China, Beijing is the place to go. After studying abroad for even just one semester, it’s easy to find hundreds of reasons to fall in love with this amazing city.

The IES program in Beijing gave me a great environment, helpful tools, and great support during my semester. The program’s location on the campus of Beijing Foreign Studies University is ideal. The campus itself is in the university district, and the area is full of a variety of restaurants, stores, bars, fruit stands, and other stops. The classes in the program are small, which made it easier for me to get to know the professors and my classmates. While the language classes are taught in Chinese and the area studies classes are taught in English, it was also nice to have the option of other Chinese taught electives to further practice the language. The idea of a language pledge may sound intimidating, but it really did help me improve my listening and speaking skills, even more so than in classes back at home. The living situation was also helpful for improving my Chinese and my overall experience abroad. You can either choose to live with a host family or in a dorm with a Chinese roommate. I had an awesome roommate who taught me about her culture and was curious about American culture. As far as exploring the city, transportation in Beijing is fairly easy. Beijing Foreign Studies University is not too far from many of the major sites of the city, including Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, Beihai Park, and other notable areas. It’s easy to hop the subway and reach an amazing site halfway across the city fairly quickly- just be careful to avoid rush hour!

If you are considering studying abroad in China at all, take the leap and go for it! Studying abroad in Beijing was the best decision I have ever made, and I would enroll in the IES program again in a heartbeat.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    8

One Semester Wasn't Enough

The way I see it, everyone has around eight semesters to achieve their degree. What we choose to do within those semesters is up to us as long as we meet our concentrations requirements and maintain a minimum GPA. What some often forget, however, is that behind that degree are all of the memories and friends that we made along that way during those semesters.

For me, study abroad was a way to not only strengthen my Chinese fluency and further my pursuit for a Chinese major, but also to turn 12.5% of my eight-semester college experience into some of the most memorable months of my life. For me, choosing to study with IES Beijing began with the recommendations from many peers and trusted professors. From there, my own research concreted my decision to spend a semester in the Chinese capital.

IES did a terrific job with everything inside and outside of the classroom to ensure that our experience in China was enriching. From the week long IES-sponsored field trip, two long weekends designated for personal travel, friendly professors, and amazing Chinese roommates, we were fully immersed in the Chinese culture from January to May with no desire to leave (except the occasional craving for true American food).

I am disappointed. Disappointed that I waited so long to study abroad. Disappointed that I only spent one semester with IES Beijing. To say that I was pleased with my experience would be an understatement. When I arrived at the Beijing airport to begin my program in China, I was counting down the days until I would be back home in America. When I arrived at the airport again to head home, I was counting down the days until I could return to Beijing again.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

The best of Beijing

The prospect of studying abroad in a country as far away and as different as China can be daunting, but if you're looking for the best semester of your college career, look no further. IES Abroad's Beijing program is the best of both worlds: a language-intensive classroom with plenty of opportunity for cultural immersion.

Housed on the campus of Beijing Foreign Studies University, IES Beijing is located in a fun and vibrant neighborhood on the western side of Beijing. Just a few minutes outside the door, you can find anything from authentic Chinese food, bubble tea and groceries to cat cafés, bars and karaoke clubs. No matter what time of day, there's always something fun to do just around campus alone. And, when you're feeling adventurous, you can always hop on the subway and visit anything from historical landmarks like Tiananmen Square to nightclubs and Western-style restaurants in Sanlitun.

The idea of a language-intensive program with a language pledge may sound terrifying, but the staff at IES Beijing are all warm and welcoming and ready to assist you by any means necessary. The amount of support with which the teachers and Resident Advisors provided us made all the difference, so when you're having a rough day and speaking Chinese is the last thing you want to do, they're always there for you. Despite the level of difficulty, Chinese class was always entertaining and enjoyable!

Choosing IES Beijing was, by far, the best decision I've made in my college career. I was able to not only vastly improve my Chinese, but also make memories that will last me a lifetime. The staff there will do anything they can to help you succeed academically, socially, and emotionally during your time in Beijing!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Academically intensive and culturally immersive experience

It's hard to pinpoint just one most memorable experience, but I would have to say the two week long trip along the Silk Road in the beginning of the semester would be it. We were able to see so much of China in so little time and practice Chinese all the while.

I chose this program because it was language intensive and had a home stay option.

I stayed with a host family just a two minute walk from the IES building (it was on campus). I was provided breakfast and dinner and I had my own room. I had to pay for internet, but that was my only expense living there.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Academically intensive and culturally immersive experience with IES Abroad Beijing Language Intensive

Without hesitation, I recommend the IES Abroad Beijing Language Intensive program to any student who is even the tiniest bit interested in Chinese. I spent the Fall of 2013 in this program and it has been one of the best experiences of my college career so far. As I've come to learn from my time in China, China operates in a very different way from other western nations. There is a strong element of uncertainty and unpredictability that comes with living and studying here. That being said, IES Abroad does an excellent job of keeping organized and delivering superb language and cultural courses.

With this program, you receive over 20 hours of Chinese instruction a week (a combination of one-on-one tutoring and general classes). When they say it's an intensive program, they aren't kidding! But don't let the discourage you. I was a little apprehensive going into the program, because I heard it was a lot of work, and it is, but it is 100% worth it. It gets easier as the semester progresses, too, because you find your rhythm for studying for dictations and balancing your time. And what better way to bond with your fellow classmates than arguing about who has more characters to memorize for the next day's dictation?

Beyond the intensive Chinese study, the program offers two unique options for students: an internship and a home stay or Chinese roommate living option. I interned at a software company, primarily doing translation, and met some of the nicest, coolest people from my semester. My coworkers really were awesome. It's a great opportunity to see how business works in China, practice your Chinese, and make new friends.

You also have the option to stay with a host family (which I highly recommend). A home-cooked meal from a Chinese family will beat anything you eat anywhere else in Beijing. I firmly believe this. Not only that, but this also further propels your Chinese language ability and gives yet another dimension to your China experience. But, if living with a family is not for you, you still get to room with a Chinese roommate in the dorms. So, either way, you are getting more exposure to Chinese people, culture and the language.

All in all, this program has every element you could want. The academics are rigorous, but worth it, and the level of immersion you get is unparalleled. For those of you still considering which program to choose, please strongly consider IES Abroad. My experience in Beijing was superb and I know it can be the same for you!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    9

IES Beijing: A wonderful way to experience China

Studying abroad in China for the 2015-16 academic year with IES Abroad was undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable, challenging and transformative experiences of my life so far, and I look back on my experiences in Beijing as the highlight of my college career. China is a great choice of study abroad destination because it is a unique and complex country with a rich cultural and historical heritage, not to mention its status as a rising world power or economic powerhouse, which ensures its relevance to any major or profession you pursue. Living and learning in Beijing for two full semesters allowed me to experience Chinese culture firsthand and observe China’s mix of modernism and traditionalism to gain a better understanding of the nation in a way I simply couldn’t do from classes back at my home university in the US. Not to mention, my Chinese skills improved by leaps and bounds along the way! Overall, the IES Abroad Contemporary China & Chinese Language program provides a very good study abroad experience and I would definitely recommend participating in the program.
The most notable academic aspect of the program is the emphasis on Chinese language learning and, of course, the Chinese language pledge. The program requires 8 classroom hours of Chinese language instruction per week (2 hours M-T and Th-F with Wednesdays off), but students at the 300-level or above can elect to take additional 2-credit language elective courses. From personal experience I would recommend the Modern Slang class for learning fun sayings and words relating to Chinese pop culture and society- your Chinese roommates and host family will be surprised to hear you speaking like a local and love helping to explain the terms’ origins to foreign students. The quality of instruction in the Chinese language classes is very good with an average of 4-8 students per class, and IES offers many levels of Chinese from beginning through fourth year/fifth year. This flexibility with the language placement helps find a fit for each student. The language pledge requires speaking only Chinese in classes, with everyone else on the program, and in all areas of campus. While it sounds intimidating, it really is the best thing to help improve your Chinese if you challenge yourself to stick to the pledge as much as possible. At the end of the program, you will find that speaking Chinese gradually comes to you more naturally, and you will be better able to hold conversations, explain your meaning, and navigate more complicated situations in entirely Chinese. The language pledge isn’t particularly strict at the start because it’s gradually increased in intensity at various points throughout the semester (ex. First only 8am-4pm, then 24/7), and students do tend to slip into English when they leave campus for ease of understanding, so it’s not overwhelmingly strict in the long run. While the English-language area studies electives were interesting but not very challenging compared to US university courses, the demands of your entire academic courseload with your Chinese language classes are quite intensive and require significant time commitment, especially with the daily听写quizzes. That being said, if you are good at time management and are prepared to work hard then you will not have a problem progressing rapidly and achieving the grades you want while also finding time to go out and explore Beijing.
The program environment and amenities were overall really nice. The IES Beijing Center is based at Beijing Foreign Studies University in the northwest Haidian district, known as the “university” district of Beijing and therefore a great place to be a student! The campus is beautiful and conveniently located only a quick subway ride away from many interesting and culturally significant sites in the city. Living in China is generally inexpensive, plus there are plenty of cheap but delicious student eateries nearby and an on-campus cafeteria, so if you are thrifty your money can go far here to give you a good lifestyle for a fraction of the price of studying abroad in more expensive Western European nations. As for the program’s support network, the program staff are all very helpful and willing to lend an ear if you have any concerns, need someone to talk to about anything or just want to blow off some steam. It’s very easy to get to know your teachers, RAs and program administrators on a personal level since it’s quite a small program, and I’ve found that the bonds you will make with other students on the program will be especially strong, providing emotional support from people who are going through the same experiences with culture shock and can help you overcome the challenges you face on the program. Although there were sometimes some issues with miscommunications or poor coordination between staff and students on the program, IES was overall good about keeping students informed and running the program smoothly.
As for the degree to which you are able to get a feel for Chinese culture and engage with China through this program, I found that IES is very good about planning activities and events around Beijing to help you get acquainted with the city, including visits to local sites and the occasional group restaurant meal. The highlight of the semester for a lot of people was the weeklong extended excursion trip to a rural part of Yunnan, Guizhou or Ningxia provinces, where students were able to travel together to see different parts of China and experience some very unique activities such as a three-day village stay with local ethnic minority families. There were also two or three four-day independent travel weekends each semester. The living arrangements, whether homestays with a local Chinese family or dorm rooms with Chinese BFSU students, will both help you learn about Chinese culture firsthand through exposure and see how Chinese people live. I lived in a homestay my first semester and a dorm my second semester, and both were great experiences. Bonding with the Chinese roommates was also one of the highlights of my experience in IES because they are genuinely interested in bonding with you and learning about your culture too! That being said, the IES program is rather detached from the rest of BFSU as IES Beijing has its own classrooms and course in a separate building from many of the Chinese students’ classes, and the IES students live on a floor of the international students dormitory specifically reserved for IES, making it very easy to fall into the IES “bubble” unless you make efforts to get out and meet other around campus if you are interested in doing so.
As a whole, I feel that I have grown immensely from my time in Beijing with IES Abroad. Although studying abroad in a nation as different from my home community as China is not without its challenges, it is a very rewarding experience to learn about such a fascinating country and culture while meeting friends from around the country and across the world, and I will forever be grateful for the IES community I was lucky to be a part of during my time in China. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone interested in China or studying Mandarin! I hope my review was helpful in giving you a better idea of what to expect on the program, and I hope you have a fun and fulfilling journey with IES Beijing like I did!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health and Safety

    7

  • Social Life

    9

Beijing: an incredible cultural adventure

What do you think of when you think of China? In my experience most people think of the smog, pollution, and overcrowding, as well as the completely different language that usually winds up with someone trying to imitate it, poorly. When I left for China, these conceptions of China were all swirling around in my head like a tornado, but once I arrived and settled in my preconceptions of China melted away and I understood what China is really like.
Beijing is an incredibly intimidating city. There are few places in the world where you are surrounded by 24 million people. However Beijing is not a vertical city, it is a sprawling city that reaches out over sixteen thousand square kilometers, which really makes the city seem like a small country. In Beijing, there is so much to do, see, and experience that it is impossible to put into a small review. Beijing has ancient cultural sites, buildings, and events but also has a very strong modern atmosphere to it. The Great Wall and the Forbidden Palace are typical cultural sites that many people think of, but there is so much more than just those sites. There is the Summer Palace, the Yonghe Temple, and so much more to explore. In addition to Chinese culture, there is Sanlitun, the famous district where there is shopping, cafes, and many other western influences. Sanlitun is something that I think most people would not expect of China, this is a place that shows off how modern China has become. While these places were the highlights of my trip, there are an unlimited number of alleys, back streets, and paths that could be taken to the next adventure and that was one of the reasons that I loved Beijing so much.
My time in the IES program was fantastic. Our program was smaller than in previous years, which I believe, lead to more personal relationships with the staff as well as other students. This program is heavily focused on language. There is a language pledge that requires speaking only Chinese on campus. I also had around 2 hours of Chinese daily as well as other cultural, economic, and governmental classes. This program is not a cakewalk, however it was incredibly rewarding. My time in the classroom as well as my one on one tutor sessions helped my Chinese skill by leaps and bounds. My cultural understanding also improved significantly from my in class experiences, but also from the many trips we took throughout Beijing. On the other hand, the IES program is not all work and no play. There were plenty of opportunities to make friends, both from my home country and from China, throughout the entire trip. I met many people who were so different from me, but also so similar to me. It was easy to make friends and the intense anxiety I felt about being alone in a new country quickly vanished. Overall, the program was an excellent mix of both educational challenges, having fun with new friends, and exploring a new place.
I chose to go to China with absolutely no idea of what I was going to experience. I didn't know how truly amazing and rewarding it could be. I can tell you first hand that if you are nervous about going abroad, if you think you won't survive or you won't make friends, you can do it. There is always going to be time to spend in the comfort zone, take my advice and just do it. You won't regret it.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    7

  • Social Life

    9

Best decision I've ever made

I loved my IES Abroad program! I attended the Beijing Language Intensive program in the summer and fall of 2014, and had the time of my life. The faculty were amazing, and truly understood what it is like to learn Chinese as a foreigner. The program also makes it easy to get out and explore Beijing and the rest of China. With IES, I found some great new friends, expanded my language ability, and saw more of China then I could’ve ever hoped.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Social Life

    9

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Academics

    9

One of a Kind Abroad Experience that Furthers your Chinese Language Abilities

My memorable experience is my Homestay and my travels with the people I met in the program

I chose this program because I wanted to improve my Chinese Language skills.

A Homestay with a Chinese "Mom" and "Dad". It was a five minute walk from the IES Abroad campus. I was provided with my own room, breakfasts and dinners (and lunch if I was home for it), and wifi. I was also able to do my laundry at the house and had my own bathroom.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    9

One of a Kind Abroad Experience that Furthers your Chinese Language Abilities

I didn’t know what to expect when I stepped off the plane in Beijing, signaling the start of my study abroad experience, but IES Beijing made the transition smooth and easy and created one of the most exciting experiences of my life to date. The weeklong orientation was not only extremely helpful in adjusting (especially with jet lag), but also allowed students to meet and interact before we would be busy with classwork.

IES is especially superb in the way that they merge the excitement of living in China with learning and hard work. I came into the program looking to vastly improve my Chinese and the intensive language program that I signed up for certainly met and exceeded my expectations. With a language pledge and close to 20 hours of Chinese language learning a day, comprised of classes and a one-on-one tutoring session, I saw all aspects of my Chinese improve, especially my conversational skills. Although it may seem intimidating on paper, know that all of the professors and IES staff are very helpful and the hard work definitely pays off at the end.

Aside from language classes I also took a Modern Chinese History class and a Chinese Calligraphy class. Both were also extremely engaging. IES makes use of the city itself by incorporating fieldtrips into the courses which not only introduce the students to aspects of Beijing that they may not visit on their own, but also introduces more of the unique Chinese culture.

With IES Abroad Beijing, you also have the choice of living with a homestay or with a Chinese roommate in the dorms. I opted to live in a homestay and I can’t recommend it enough; it was one of the best aspects of my stay in Beijing. My homestay family was extremely welcoming and were always eager to take me to see interesting sites and aspects of the city that only a native would know about. It was also nice to have homemade Chinese meals every day. Living with a homestay also significantly improved my Chinese. While I’m sure living with a Chinese roommate would be an invaluable experience as well, I know that the homestay was the right choice for me and I can’t recommend it enough!

One last aspect of the IES Abroad program that is unique is the “Mobile Learning Trip”. This was a two week excursion into different parts of China, for me northeastern China, in which we not only furthered our Chinese language studies, but also got to interact with the many different ethnic groups of China. It was a chance for us to travel beyond Beijing, as it is easy to spend all of your time in the big city. This was something unique to IES and just another way that they make the study abroad experience truly one of a kind.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Social Life

    8

  • Health and Safety

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Academics

    10

The Best Option for Beijing

The best experience I had was traveling to Tibet two weeks before the academic semester began. This was an optional trip, but it was well worth the extra two weeks. After we arrived in Beijing and got acclimated to the time difference, we set out to Tibet in the western part of China and spent 10 days traveling throughout the province. It's fair to say that Tibet is the most beautiful place I've ever been to. Gorgeous mountains and lakes, plenty of Buddhist temples to fill your heart's desire, and friendly people who love to take your picture. Just being able to see all of the sights and experience first-hand the culture there was incredible to say the least. I definitely recommend this trip for anyone taking part in a semester or year with IES.

I chose my program because I felt as though IES offered the best opportunity to really improve my language skills, while also balancing school work and free time. With the Language Intensive program, you are in class for about 25 hours per week, which is much more than most college students have, but there is never much time wasted in class. I wanted a program that would allow me to experience the uniqueness of Beijing and China as a whole, as well as provide me with the best resources for improving my Chinese skills. This program definitely gave me the best of both.

I lived in a dormitory owned by IES on the campus of Beijing Foreign Studies University. The dorms were nice, although the room are a lot smaller than most American college students will be used to. I also lived with a Chinese roommate, who was a student at the university. The best part about the dorm was that our classrooms were located right down the hall from our dorm rooms, since we didn't take classes directly with the university. But the halls and bathrooms were cleaned every day, the building was air conditioned for the warm months, and it became a very cozy and comfortable place to relax and unwind.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    8

Best Option for Beijing

To summarize this program in one word, IES-Beijing Language Intensive was exceptional. From the immersion to the language studies and the travel, there is no better study abroad program if you looking at Beijing.

There was a lot of studying involved, but it was never unmanageable--probably at most 3 hours per night. But the amount of Chinese I learned mad the studying enjoyable, since you knew you would be using the very same vocab and grammar the next day in class, or on the street talking with a friend or stranger. Plus, the largest language class I was in only had 6 students, so there was a ton of individual attention.

Outside of the language classes, I chose to take two area studies courses, both in the Political Science area. One class was Politics and Government of China, taught by a visiting professor from Australia, and the other was Social Movements and Labor Change in China, taught by a Chinese professor who works daily in that field. I have to say both classes were fascinating, the work load was never more than a few hours per week, and both professors kept small classes. The larger of the two only had 12 students. Plus the best part about classes--and this includes the Chinese language ones as well--is that they only met 4 times per week, since we had no class on Wednesdays.

Outside of school work, there was always plenty of time every day to play sports, go to the gym, explore Beijing, etc. There was not a single day where I found myself stuck inside doing work or studying. It was very easy to just go out and explore a new part of Beijing, then get back in time for dinner and homework. There were always new friends to meet playing soccer, things to do around the city, or just enjoy the atmosphere of a college campus.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Social Life

    9

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Academics

    8

A Memorable Time in China

There were so many memorable experiences that it's hard to narrow down a specific one. However, our trip to Inner Mongolia and Manchuria does stand out because the places I visited were not places that people would normally go to. All in all, the wonderful experiences I had were due, in part, to the friends I made.

When I decided to go abroad, I chose IES because it’s affiliated with my home university. I’m glad I did, though, because, with knowledgeable and dedicated teachers, friendly and available staff, and a focus on immersion, IES made studying in Beijing one of the best experiences of my life.

IES is located on Beijing Foreign Studies University’s campus. Students are either housed at a homestay or in the dorms with a Chinese roommate. It’s important to note that the accommodations will be different from what you’re used to at home.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    N/A

A Memorable Time in China

An amazing experience that furthered my learning about Chinese culture, language, and current affairs. In addition, I met new people and had the opportunity to tour China. Throughout the semester, students are encouraged to travel. In terms of academics, because students are required to abide by the language pledge, my Chinese did improve and I became more comfortable with speaking the language. Along with Chinese classes, students take area studies classes that cover a range of different topics relevant to China.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

Once in a lifetime college experience

IES Beijing did a really good job stretching you with your language skills and providing cultural experiences that allow you to really enjoy and appreciate the city. The students came from all over the US and were amazing; they were unique and I loved that they wanted to be there. IES also connected us with students studying in the city and we got to practice our Mandarin with them and learn more about Beijing, as well as China, through local lenses.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Social Life

    7

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Academics

    10

Beijing gives me life

Hands down people in the know say that Beijing is the best place to study Mandarin in China, and IES Beijing has probably the best program there that is available for undergrads. With a wealth of class options ranging in difficulty and good office support, IES Beijing is a first-rate program in an amazing city!

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

A place of daily experiences

Being a language-intensive program, the Mandarin classes were definitely challenging. We had about 4 hours of Chinese class a day—don't worry, they were divided into separate blocks and there were some interactive activities incorporated in them making them more manageable. Plus being in a classroom of people you live with and get to know pretty well makes it exciting.

Classes sound intense, but I improved a lot in speaking, especially with the city at your finger tips (and the "Chinese-only" rule). The city in itself has so many neighborhoods, one semester was definitely not enough to explore everywhere. Definitely plan ahead and be active. In terms of food, it's cheap and delicious (you'll wonder why you ever ate raw veggies when you could get them all stir-fried).

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Language intensive program, my Chinese improved...

Language intensive program, my Chinese improved tremendously, the program also hosts and organizes many trips allowing students to see the cultural diversity of China all over the country. Great faculty. Lots to do. I fully endorse it!