Studying abroad is a popular way to break up a tertiary qualification and gain new life experiences, and the list of potential destinations for students is full of opportunity. Destinations in Asia might be overlooked in favour of European hotspots like France or Germany, but China has the culture and history to make any exchange experience memorable. The nation’s capital, Beijing, is the place to go for most students, and for a number of good reasons.
The cost of living is often one of the most significant concerns for students planning to study overseas, but there are plenty of destinations you can escape to without burning a hole in your pocket. While some Chinese destinations have a reputation for being costly, Beijing is one of the cheaper options for students. Your biggest expense is likely your university fees, so it’s worth looking into one of the many scholarships available to international students who choose to study in the capital. If saving money is your goal, don’t be afraid to frequent local restaurants and sift through the offerings at markets; as a general rule, seeking out the places locals love will rarely steer you wrong for value and authenticity.
There are usually vacancies
Like many other destinations, prices for accommodation in Beijing range from suitable to scary, but if you’re not fussy about location, finding a place to stay for your first few nights shouldn’t be a marathon. Hotels range from $25 per night, and if you’re willing to compromise on star ratings and location, your wallet will thank you. After that, your options for accommodation are fairly wide-ranging, from a homestay arrangement with a Chinese family to a dorm offered by your chosen university, although student residence halls are typically the most common option.
The city is made for tourists
It’s no coincidence that Beijing has been noted as China’s top spot for tourist attractions. You can encounter giant pandas at the Beijing Zoo, visit countless ancient museums and temples, explore the Forbidden City and traverse the famous Great Wall, all within the first few days of your trip. In case all of that doesn’t wear you out, the popular districts of Shanghai and Xi An are only a train journey away.
You can learn the language
For those who want to develop a better understanding of Chinese culture, Beijing is the place to go. Despite its reputation as a tourist hub, the city plays host to fewer foreigners than other areas of China, which means you’ll see less English translations around the city. As a result, you can expect to learn Mandarin much more quickly in Beijing than you would in a more English-friendly part of China. That being said, you can still count on spotting plenty of international students in your same situation, so you won’t be alone.
Exploring your artistic side is encouraged
If you plan to soak up a bit of art and culture between weekday classes, Beijing’s many museums and galleries have got you covered. Places like The Forbidden City and Today Art Museum sit near the top of the list, but if you’d rather keep it low-key, check out some of China’s most colourful neighbourhoods, like the 798 Art District, Gulou, and Dashilan.
Chinese food is only the beginning
If you love good Chinese yum cha on a Sunday, you’ll be pleased to find that Beijing upholds a high standard when it comes to all the classic dishes. You won’t need to venture far to find everything from noodles and dumplings to chicken feet, and whatever you choose is sure to be as authentic as anything else on offer. When you’ve had enough Chinese food to last a lifetime, you’ll be pleased to know that Beijing also offers plenty of other international cuisines, including everything from American soul food to fancy French Bistros.
Classes are pretty much universal
If class availabilities are the main concern, you can rest assured that a wide variety of study options are available in Beijing, including many of the main courses offered at universities around the world like HR and Global Engineering. Students can also choose to study China-centric subjects to get a better grasp of the history of the nation, although it’s the business-related subjects which are usually in peak demand.
There are plenty of study options
When it comes to choosing a university in Beijing, students are spoiled for choice. There are a number of institutions offering everything from agricultural studies to film. If you’re chasing a spot in one of China’s more prestigious universities, you’ll need to prepare for tougher entry conditions; for example, high expectations for Chinese and English language proficiency, strong academic performance, and good physical and mental health. If you take the time to brush up on your Mandarin before your flight leaves, you’ll be easing the burden of your study requirements before the journey has even begun.
Getting around is fairly simple…
…as long as you go at the right time of day. In case you’re worried about the confusing journey from your front door to your accommodation in Beijing, there’s no need; the city is home to China’s major airport, and the public transportation system is one of the largest in the country. It’s enough to get almost 22 million people from A to B every day, but if you’re trekking through metropolitan areas, it would be wise to avoid peak times. The city is at its most crowded at around 8 o’clock in the morning, and 6 o’clock at night, so it’s best to plan around this or prepare to face some delays.