I decided to do a masters degree in China because of its emergence as a major power in world affairs. Recently, China has been extending its influence in many countries through providing loans for infrastructural development and private investment. With this in mind, I applied to China University of Political Science and Law (“CUPL”) to undertake a master’s degree in International law and to learn Mandarin Chinese.
I thought the master’s degree classes were very informative. Many of them were international subjects such as the World Trade Organisation and International Air law. I also learned about Chinese law including constitution and company law. The curriculum was skilfully devised to allow students to learn a significant amount of detail in a relatively short period of time.
The courses were taught by Chinese doctors and professors who seemed to have been very qualified in the area of law in which they specialised. Whilst some of them had very unique personalities they all presented their respective course in a very professional manner. I was particularly pleased that they were generally very open about their views on various national issues in China even if it did not conform to the regime of the government.
Learning Mandarin Chinese was very difficult as I expected. It is far removed from western languages and it was certainly much more of challenge for me to learn than Spanish and French. The Chinese do not use words as in many Western languages but characters instead.
Even though I was not fluent in Mandarin, getting around Beijing was relatively easy because of the many signs in English. Whilst many people did not speak English such as store clerks and taxi drivers, I found there were many people in public places who spoke English and they were generally very eager to help foreigners.
I had the good fortune of being assisted by two persons from CUPL who were very helpful in helping me to get around Beijing. They assisted me in almost every aspect of settling in Beijing – from opening up a bank account to leasing an apartment. A CUPL agent, who was a tremendous help in showing me around Beijing, also ensured that I was made fully aware of the best bars and night clubs in the city. I will always be grateful for the help I was given.
I found Beijing to be an awesome city. It is a modern metropolis that is more westernised than I was made to believe before arriving there. Many of the Chinese restaurants I dined at were very similar to those I have eaten at western countries. Most of the grocery stores had the same products found in western convenience stores and supermarkets. There are a lot of American and European stores. There seems to be a 7 Eleven on almost every street and a Walmart was a 5 minute walk from my apartment whilst Carrefour was in a nearby shopping mall. McDonald’s and KFC seemed to be on almost every corner.
Whilst Beijing is very advanced in many respects, it has retained much of its rich history. Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace and many other historic places of interest are still wonderful features of the city. I found many of the side streets that led to traditional Chinese neighbourhoods very charming. Chinas rich culture can also be experienced in the Peking Opera shows and 798, which is Beijing’s exciting art district.
I would certainly recommend that students from my home and other countries around the world do course at CUPL in Beijing, China.