Study Abroad in Kunming

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A Guide to Studying Abroad in Kunming

Referred to as as the city of eternal spring, Kunming, China is well known for its comfortable climate, ethnic diversity, and distinctive geographic features. Located at the southeastern tip of China, Kunming acts as a major port city for regional trade and international travel, as it borders Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar. Students who want to study abroad in China should look no further than Kunming, as it offers rare insight into the economic, political, and social issues that affect China as a whole as well as its relationship with neighboring countries, thanks to its geographical location.

Study Abroad Programs in Kunming

Home to multiple major universities, including Yunnan University, Kunming University, and Yunnan Nationalities University, students looking to study abroad in Kunming will have a veritable buffet of course options. Chinese language study is typically assumed to be a supplemental part of any study abroad program in Kunming, so students can expect to to hone their Chinese language skills during their time in China. While students will be able to find study abroad programs in Kunming suited for almost any discipline, there are a few particularly popular areas of study in Kunming outlined below. 

Development Studies. Yunnan University is one of the prestigious Project 211 universities, a group of universities that is specifically targeted by the Chinese government for growth in research and development strategies. Kunming also has more international and Chinese non-governmental organizations (NGO) than any other city in China. Considering these two factors, it is no surprise that there are a number of opportunities for students to enroll in valuable courses, lectures, and guest residencies in Kunming, allowing them to expand their perspectives on key regional issues. Courses range from regional development to urban planning to social research, all of which can be very attractive options for international students.

Environmental Studies. Kunming provides students with a hands-on, up close opportunity to study and analyze environmental issues in one of the most biologically diverse regions in all of Asia (not to mention amidst one of the most highly populated nations in the world). Students will have the chance to tackle environmental challenges faced throughout China and Southeast Asia related to China’s continued economic rise, and begin to come up with solutions to prevent further damage and promote environmental preservation. 

Anthropology. Well known for its courses in anthropology and language and culture, students will find themselves examining the socio-economic and environmental factors that contribute to China’s past and future. Students will glean a better understanding of China’s multicultural history and expanded outlooks on major social issues and challenges that the country faces. Some major topics of study will also include the role of Chinese cultures and religious systems in ordinary life, rapid urbanization, social change, and sustainability.

Life in Kunming

Life in Kunming is sure to be constantly entertaining. Aside from the large student population, which contributes to the dense city’s events and nightlife, Kunming is also host to a plethora of cultural, historic, and natural attractions. Kunming is home to the Yunnan Provincial Museum, Gaoxing High Tech Investment Zone, and Yuantong Temple, where students are welcomed to visit, experience, and learn more about the local Buddhist practices.

An intricate system of highways and public transportation connects Kunming’s residents to neighboring countries, allowing students to take full advantage of everything the city as and all of Southeast Asia has to offer while studying abroad in Kunming. Students who enjoy outdoor activities can visit the Dounan International Flower Auction Center, spend a day out of Lake Dianchi, or visit the famous Stone Forest, referred to by the Ming Dynasty as the “first wonder of the world.”

Although there is a particularly large population of university students in Kunming, the city is also home to an incredibly diverse population overall, made up of Yunnanese, Han Chinese, and Southeast Asian business people as well as a significant number of Western expats. Those who study abroad in Kunming will have the chance to experience a true melting pot of cultures that creates a vast and complicated social mixture.

Accommodation & Visas

All international students are required to obtain a visa in order to study abroad in Kunming. To do so, students will need to apply for a student permit and provide a letter of admission and offer from their host university or program provider in China. 

Housing for study abroad students in Kunming is usually included as part of overall program packages, and it is highly recommended that students stick to living in approved housing options. In rare instances, students may seek alternative housing arrangements (i.e. with host families or in individual apartment units), however most study abroad programs in Kunming will pre-arrange housing for all participants.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Weekend Travel. Kunming’s location makes traveling around Southeast Asia an absolute breeze. Students participating in study abroad programs in Kunming surrounding politics, environmental science, and business will find additional travel experience to be extremely relevant and beneficial to their studies, as will most students in general.

Diversity. There are not many places in the world that boast the kind of cultural and social diversity that Kunming does. You will not only be experiencing study abroad in China, if you choose to study in Kunming, you will have the opportunity to experience real societal diversity, and witness how it affects everyday life.

Language Skills. China is on the rise in just about every field imaginable. American schools have begun to integrate Chinese language immersion courses at a rapid rate, and Chinese will soon outnumber even Spanish language programs. Having language proficiency in one of the world’s oldest and most widely spoken languages (even if it is because of the sheer population of China) can only work in your favor. Improving your Chinese language skills while studying abroad in Kunming will open many doors to employment opportunities after graduation, as it will help expand your personal network and make you an even more invaluable asset for nearly any company.

Read our comprehensive guide on studying abroad in China.

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A Guide To
Studying Abroad in Kunming


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