Studying in China as an international student can be a unique and rewarding experience. However, it also comes with its own set of challenges, particularly when it comes to cultural adaptation, language learning, and navigating practical aspects of living in China. In this article, we’ll discuss how to navigate these challenges and make the most of your study abroad experience in China.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when studying in China is the importance of understanding and respecting Chinese culture, customs, and etiquette. This may take some time and effort, but it will help you to better understand and appreciate the country you’re living in. To start, you can:
- Read books or watch films that explore Chinese culture, such as “Wild Swans” by Jung Chang or “The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan.
- Speak with locals to get a firsthand understanding of what it’s like to live in China.
- Read the news (in China!), and visit websites such as China Culture (http://www.chinaculture.org/) or China Daily (https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/) to learn more about Chinese culture and customs.
Another key aspect of cultural adaptation is being aware of common cultural differences that international students may encounter in China. For example, Chinese people may have a more indirect communication style, which can be confusing for people from more direct cultures. Additionally, social norms and expectations may be different, such as the importance of showing respect to elders or the concept of “face.”
Learning Chinese is essential for effective communication and cultural understanding. Even though many Chinese people speak English, understanding Chinese will help you to better navigate daily life in China and connect with locals. To start learning Chinese, you can:
- Take classes at a local Chinese school or university or online using platforms such as iTalki (https://www.italki.com/) or Preply (https://www.preply.com/)
- Use language-learning apps such as Duolingo (https://www.duolingo.com/), Memrise (https://www.memrise.com/), or Lingodeer (https://www.lingodeer.com/)
- Find language exchange partners through platforms such as Tandem (https://www.tandem.net/) or HelloTalk (https://www.hellotalk.com/)
- You can also check out BLCU for online Chinese classes here.
- And check out our other resources here.
It’s also a good idea to practice speaking Chinese in real-life situations, such as speaking with locals or watching Chinese TV shows. Websites such as iQiyi (https://www.iqiyi.com/) or Youku (https://www.youku.com/) offer a wide range of Chinese-language TV shows and movies.
Building a social network in China is crucial for a positive study abroad experience. Joining clubs, organizations, or groups that align with your interests is a great way to meet like-minded people and make friends. Participating in cultural events or volunteering is another way to connect with Chinese students and locals. Websites such as meetup or wechat groups can be useful resources for meeting people. It’s especially important to make an effort and attend lots of events to meet more people and build your network.
Navigating Chinese systems
Living in China also comes with its own set of practical challenges, such as finding housing, opening a bank account, or obtaining a SIM card. It’s important to research and be prepared for these things in advance. Here are some tips.
Obtaining a SIM card:
- You will need your passport and a Chinese bank card to purchase a SIM card.
- You can purchase SIM cards at the airport, at authorized telecom shops, or online through the websites of major telecom providers such as China Mobile (https://www.chinamobileltd.com/), China Unicom (https://www.chinaunicom.com.cn/) or China Telecom (https://www.chinatelecom.com.cn/).
- It’s also worth noting that some universities have partnerships with specific telecom providers, so it’s worth checking with your school to see if they have any special deals or discounts. You can sometimes see these companies advertising with a stall at the first day of university and sign up there.
Opening a bank account:
- You will need your passport and student ID to open a bank account.
- You can open a bank account at most major banks in China, such as Bank of China (https://www.bankofchina.com/), China Construction Bank (https://www.ccb.com/), Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (https://www.icbc.com.cn/), or Agricultural Bank of China (https://www.abchina.com/).
- It’s worth noting that some banks may have different requirements or processes for opening an account, so it’s best to do some research and compare options before making a decision.
- Some banks do have English service if they are more international or located close to an international university. We advise you to go with some friends together and/ or ask a Chinese friend to help you set up the account.
- You can find housing through your university, through online platforms such as Airbnb (https://www.airbnb.com/) or Booking.com (https://www.booking.com/), or by searching for local classified ads.
- You should also be prepared to pay a deposit and any necessary utility fees when you move in.
- It’s worth noting that some universities have partnerships with housing providers, so it’s worth checking with your school to see if they have any special deals or discounts.
In conclusion, studying in China as an international student can be an amazing opportunity to learn about a new culture and gain valuable life experiences. However, it’s important to be prepared for the challenges that may come with it, such as cultural adaptation, language learning and navigating practical aspects of living in China. By following the tips outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to making the most of your study abroad experience in China. If you need more support, you can find resources such as websites or contact information to help you throughout your time in China.
If you’d like more help / advice about studying in China, book a free call with us here.
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