Why study abroad in Beijing?
While looking for the perfect destination to study abroad can be overwhelming, it can also be very fun, and once the choice is made, the adventure of a lifetime starts taking place.
I had it very clear in my mind that I wanted to study somewhere non-Western, to discover a culture that was different from the ones I’d lived in my whole life. So, after some consideration, research, family stories about trips abroad, and meetings with my advisor, I decided to study in Beijing, China. And, I now know that I couldn’t have picked a better destination.
Here are some reasons why you should study in Beijing, based on my own personal experience:
1. It’s very affordable and there are many scholarships available.
Contrary to studying in most European countries, studying in Asia is pretty cheap. And China is no exception. In fact, it’s cheaper to travel, eat, and live in Beijing than it is in other Chinese cities, making it a destination that is easy to afford for college students living on a tight budget. You’ll find that by exploring local restaurants and markets, you’ll be able to eat as cheap as $10 per day. Not only that, but since cross-culture exchange with China is so popular, there are many scholarships available!
2. You will learn about a different culture.
Chinese culture is so vast, diverse and fascinating. By living in Beijing, you will learn how modern Chinese people live, from visiting different Buddhist temples around the city, learning about the cuisine and household and professional manners and norms, experiencing day-to-day interactions that will teach you how to communicate effectively with Chinese locals, and opening your mind to an Eastern and more collectivist point of view.
3. Chinese cuisine is a world of its own.
I have never tasted so many wonderful dishes, from noodles, to soup, to fish, to chicken claws, to milk tea, to shrimp and cucumber dumplings…you will fall in LOVE with the exquisite Chinese cuisine and have the chance to eat at restaurants with food from all over the world. You can find food from all over the world very easily in China’s capital city. Need your comfort food because you miss home? Got it, for as low as a price of USD $1 for a familiar breakfast! Want to try an exquisite dish from a country you’ve never visited before? Got it.
4. You will take classes you couldn’t take anywhere else.
Although all we want to do is travel when we visit another country, taking classes is the major focus of spending time abroad. But classes in Beijing will focus on topics you’ve never explored in such depth before, China’s history, language, economy and culture and will be closer to the Confucian style of teaching – longer classes but less times per week. You won’t have a better opportunity to learn about China and increase your GPA than when you study in Beijing.
5. You can explore a new place each weekend.
There are countless neighborhoods to explore in Beijing. You can go to Houhai, one of the many hutongs in the city, and get on a boat around the lake after visiting a tea house; visit Sanlitun to dance in the best clubs after a shopping spree, walk around the 798 art district and taste traditional noodles, visit the Olympic Park… There’s a different activity you can do each weekend, so that by the end of the semester you will know which places to visit the next time you travel to Beijing.
6. You can travel to many different parts of China and Asia.
Not only can you explore Beijing, but also travel to other wonderful cities, towns, historical sites, and parks. The good thing about living in the capital is that you’ll have transportation connections to almost every single part of China and the world! And you can travel by plane, bus, or train – I definitely recommend travel on an overnight sleeping train at least once; it’s an experience you will never forget!
7. You’ll grow professionally.
Living in a big city has many advantages – one of them being the vast job field and the wide array of professional opportunities. If you’re looking to do an internship, Beijing is the place to go, bursting with businesses looking for experienced and international individuals who will bring a different perspective.
8. It’s bursting with art.
Apart from having its own art district with art galleries and museums at every corner, Beijing is a melting pot of art from all over China, having traditional Chinese opera, acrobatic shows, museums, underground and stadium concerts…you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the world of Chinese art, meet artists from all over the world, and see things you have never seen before.
9. You’ll be part of an international community
Beijing itself is home to millions of Chinese from different parts of China and has one of the largest international expat communities. This will give you the opportunity to not only immerse yourself in the Chinese culture, but meet and be part of a diverse group of international students. Being on a Chinese campus, there will be not only Chinese locals but also students from many countries, including North Korea. You will have opportunities such as living with a Chinese roommate and make friends that will teach you about other parts of the world.
10. You will learn a new language.
There’s no better way to learn a language than to experience it first-hand by being surrounded by it. Mandarin is the most used language in the world, with around 848 million people who speak it. When studying in Beijing, you will have to use Mandarin every day to order food, go shopping, or take the bus. But don’t fret if your Mandarin level is beginner or nonexistent! Many signs throughout the city are bilingual (in English) to help foreigners – and international students – get by.
11. It will be the experience of a lifetime.
Don’t be afraid to take the step, go through the application process, and apply, because you’ll make memories that you’ll never forget and get the chance to live in one of the most culturally-diverse cities and countries in the world!
Why you should take my word for it and study in Beijing!
I’m having the time of my life, learning, traveling, exploring, meeting new people…choosing to study in Beijing has without a doubt been the best decision I have ever made. I am gaining professional experience, cultural knowledge, and unique and wonderful memories. That is why I encourage you to also take the opportunity and study abroad!
This article was contributed by The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies, an institution based in Beijing that provides unparallelled cross-cultural experiences for international students.