A Guide To High School Programs in China
Going on a high school study abroad program in China will open your eyes to an entirely new world beyond the scope of your ordinary classroom experience. One of the world’s oldest and greatest civilizations, China has developed throughout history to become the most populous country on the planet and a dominant modern superpower. From the Great Wall in the north to the Himalayas in the south, and everything in between, the Chinese landscape offers high school students a unique and highly enriching opportunity to expand their academic and personal horizons.
China is huge (it is the world’s second largest country by total land area) and incredibly diverse (there are over 1.35 billion citizens of over 50 different ethnic backgrounds). So it goes without saying that wherever you travel in China each location will offer, both geographically and culturally, a very distinctive experience from other parts of the country.
The three most popular cities for high school programs in China are Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. Beijing has been the country’s political capital dating back to centuries the reign of Imperial China (the Forbidden City remains largely intact at the urban center and is a very popular tourist attraction). Shanghai, China’s largest city with over 24 million inhabitants, is a highly modern metropolitan area which is a huge international financial and transportation hub. Hong Kong, an autonomous territory belonging to China, is a truly global city with a huge sea port and one of the most impressive skylines in the world.
There are many other cities throughout this giant of a country where it is possible to attend a high school program abroad, such as Chengdu, Kunming, Tianjin, and Guangzhou, so do your research thoroughly when deciding which location best suits your interests. Many high school study abroad programs in China will also allow students to travel throughout the country rather than stay grounded in one city, which is a great opportunity to experience a large diversity of the country’s landscapes and cultures.
There are all types of high school programs in China, from studying abroad to volunteering abroad to multifaceted adventure tours. Since China is a much different culture and environment than Western countries, where high school students may be traveling from, most programs in China will be very well supervised and guided by adults so students and their parents need not worry about safety or security. Adapting to a new culture and customs will certainly be challenging, but students will have supportive and consistent help along the way!
Most high school programs in China are offered during summer or winter breaks, and therefore typically last from one to six weeks. High school volunteer programs in China will likely have students working in areas such as community development, teaching, or environmental preservation.
On the other hand, high school study abroad programs in China may entail high school or even college academic credit for participation, giving educationally ambitious high school students a wonderful opportunity to be rewarded for their adventurous efforts while they experience a new culture. Adventure travel programs in China for high school students will often combine education, volunteering, and tourism to give students an exciting opportunity to engage with Chinese culture on a number of levels.
China is an affordable country to visit for most high school students coming from the developed world, so on-the-ground costs need not be of too much concern. Still, while there are certainly affordable high school programs out there, upfront costs can hike up to be a considerable amount (although program fees often include airfare, accommodations, meals, in-country transport, etc.). Fundraising at your school or with your family and friends is a great way to raise the money for a trip.
The type of accommodation you will be offered depends on where your high school program is located, but on the whole you can expect to be made comfortable while travelling in China. China is a developing country so certain Western luxuries may not always be accounted for (i.e. Wi-Fi, air conditioning, potable water), but this is all part of the challenge or uprooting and living in another country. Your program will usually organize housing for you, whether in a group living situation or in a homestay, so communicate clearly with them about your expectations and preferences regarding your housing situation.
High school students from most countries will need to obtain a visa prior to arrival in order to enter China. The process is fairly straight forward, and your program provider will likely help you sort through the details. You will likely need to go to the Chinese consulate in person in order to apply – check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory to locate the nearest one to you!
China is an ancient civilization and culture which has emerged to become a great power in the modern global order. Whether you are interested in learning the language, exploring the cities, or simply going on an adventure, high school programs in China will undoubtedly prove to be very educative and rewarding experiences. It will definitely be challenging to leave home and travel to a new country which is so much different from your own, but in the end you might just find embarking on a high school program in China to be the best decision you ever made!
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