Making The Most of Your Study Abroad In China

The tag line "Study and Explore in China to Expand Your Horizon" seemed to be very well suited to below article about student learning experience while studied in China. 

Fully utilize the spare time available to you while study in China. China is vast and has plenty of things for your to explore ranging from its people, culture, foods, ancient places of attraction as well as sparkling metropolitan cities. You name it, China has it.

So enjoy the fullest in China while pursuing your studies there and make study abroad in China as one of your awesome, wonderful and memorable moments in life.

Below is the full story!

Part I

China is gaining increasing popularity as a location for overseas students to study abroad. This is hardly surprising considering China’s recent and continuing economic boom and the fact that Mandarin is now one of the languages most widely spoken around the world. Being able to speak Mandarin is an asset few companies would willingly pass up.

Study in China, a window to many splendid, exciting and unforgettable moments.....   
So you’re looking into studying in China – what steps do you need to take first?

The first and most obvious one is to thoroughly, and I mean thoroughly, research any program you are considering. Read the information on the website, the brochures the give you and also ask around and see if anyone you know has had any personal experience with that program. Join online groups for people who have completed the program and get in touch with them so you can get some information straight from the horse’s mouth. A typical program for study abroad in China will offer classes with a Chinese university, and once you start classes, you are on your own. If you want a richer cultural experience and would want to travel within China look for programs that cater to that. It’s worth being adventurous and exploring other options for study abroad instead of focusing on the ones that your university offers. You might have to go through some hassle of arranging to have your credits transferred, or getting courses approved by professors, but it will all be worth it in the end.

Too often (I’m guilty of it myself) people see their time studying abroad as an opportunity to slack off. Yes, it is very tempting to treat your time in a new, exciting foreign country as an extended holiday, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn new, fascinating things from people who have had entirely different experiences to you. And try to always remember, that every class you miss or sleep through has a fee – the hard-earned money that you used to pay to attend that class is going to waste. I’m not saying become a complete recluse and refuse any invitations to go out – just balance your work time and down time equally.

Immerse yourself fully in the culture. If you don’t plan properly, its easy to fall into the trap of only speaking English and only having Western friends, which is fine if you want a study abroad experience which is just like being at home. Research the area you will be staying in and see if there are any local activities you can join in, like volunteering at elderly homes or doing an internship with a local company. Do a language exchange with a local, where you learn Chinese for one hour and then teach them English. Befriend the man who sells you fruit, or the security guard at your school and practice your Chinese with them.

Don’t let culture shock ruin your time abroad
I know everyone talks about culture shock, but discussing it and experiencing it are two wholly different things. What I will tell you is that culture shock is very real and when it happens can be very jarring and disconcerting, but it will pass. It is very common for a student to go somewhere new and to cut short their study abroad experience because of culture shock. On careerhack, they break down culture shock into four separate stages – “The stages are excitement (also known as the honeymoon phase), withdrawal, adjustment, and enthusiasm. The withdrawal stage is the critical part of the cycle, where everything will begin to take its toll on you causing you to become aggravated by the new culture you’re living with. Everything in China is completely different to what you’re used to in your home country. This includes currency, food, ethics, customs, hygiene practices, medicine, lifestyle, and the environment around you”. It is tough and you will want to give up, but soldier on through and you will have one of the best experiences of your life.
Can you handle the Sichuan spice? You’ll never know if you don’t try!
Once you’ve settled into your classes and university and have learned enough Chinese to make getting around easy, travel. China is wondrously vast and houses very different landscapes. Visit pandas in Chengdu one weekend (for a small fortune, you can cuddle a baby panda), and sample some local eye-wateringly hot Sichuan specialties. Go to Harbin during winter and experience a real-life winter wonderland – it houses stunning ice sculptures. Since you’re already in China, why not? From China, it is also very simple to fly to Hong Kong or Macau. Thailand, Vietnam and Korea amongst others are also easily accessible and only a short flight away, and if you book early, you can get great deals.

Part II

This detail is often overlooked, but it is crucial. Studying in a new country means different currencies and different banks. Often, your debit card will either not work in China, or if it does, it comes with a hefty transaction fee. Trust me, this is not something that you want to find out when you get to China. I made this mistake when studying in Copenhagen and ended up having to rely on the generosity of my friends who lent me money out of their own pocket while I sorted things out with my bank. Either way, even if you have friends who can cover you, it is a giant, giant pain, so do some research. You could save yourself a lot of money by switching to a bank that doesn’t charge ATM fees in foreign countries. Five minutes of your time right now will save you a lot of head-banging and frustration in the future.

Don’t be this guy
Studying in China usually means you will have classes from around 8am to noon, and then a completely free afternoon. Do not waste this spare time! I know at the beginning its so easy to feel like you have ages of time left in China, but before you know it you will be packing your bags to return home. Plan trips with your friends, make some money by teaching English part time, or go on cultural visits around China. Whatever you do, don’t waste your afternoons sleeping on an uncomfortable dorm bed and watching TV shows (that load very slowly).
Some slightly intimidating nibbles
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard Prince Phillip’s quote about the Chinese – he said, and I quote “If it has four legs and is not a chair, has wings and is not an aeroplane, or swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will try to eat it”. Now this may not be especially politically correct, but it is quite true. In China, you will see everything you could possible imagine on menus – chicken’s feet, offal, scorpions, frogs, starfish, worms and countless others. Don’t be grossed out – try everything and you may be surprised at what your taste buds enjoy. Don’t be one of those people who study abroad in China and eat pasta or chips everyday – push yourself and try everything.

Before you know it, your semester or year will be up. This will happen in a blink of an eye and you will be left wondering where all the time went. Chances are, there will still be loads of things left that you would like to do, so how about you extend your time in China? Studying there, even for a short amount of time, is bound to change you as a person and challenge what you know and think – imagine what staying even longer in China would do? You will be fully immersed into the culture, and your Chinese language skills will be formidable, if you not already fluent.

And finally, and vitally, consider your future in every step of your study abroad. When you return home, you will have a richer understanding of different cultures and a heightened cultural awareness – you will also be returning with a new language. All these factors make you more attractive to future employers. What will make you even more likely to be hired for that job you like is proof that you suitably utilized your time abroad. That means, when you’re in China, apply for internships or teach English – anything that shows you’re a motivated individual who doesn’t waste time.

Contact Info

Level 35-02, Q Sentral, 2A Jalan Stesen Sentral 2, KL Sentral, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+60 12 380 0501 (KY Lee)                            (WhatsApp and WeChat ID - ky_lee7 available)      wecharwhatsapp

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