During my year abroad, I wrote an article about the benefits of studying in cities outside of Beijing or Shanghai for your year abroad in China.

Having spend a full academic year studying in Harbin, as well as previously attending a summer program and interning in Shanghai, I have had a taste of both options – and it can definitely be said that there are advantages and disadvantages for each.

Here, I’m just going to summarise my main points in favour of studying somewhere off the beaten track – although please do feel free to have a look at the original article for more detail.

  1. Language immersion – the lack of English speakers will force you to make more Chinese friends and use your language skills more outside of the classroom.
  2. Experiencing the “real” China – Beijing and Shanghai can give a more tourist-y or westernised view of China, whereas other cities bring you a less censored picture of this rapidly developing country.
  3. Saving money – Beijing and Shanghai are the most expensive cities to study in, in terms of tuition fees, accommodation costs, food costs and transport costs. Also, there are lots of scholarships available in other cities too!
  4. More travel opportunities – being further towards cities in the far west or central China enables you to more easily visit less tourist-y places.
  5. Stand out from the crowd – everyone is going to Beijing and Shanghai to study or intern abroad, but going somewhere off the beaten track shows that you are adventurous, confident, think outside the box and have a deeper knowledge of China.

I’ve also written an article arguing the other point of view – that Beijing or Shanghai is the place to be for study abroad students, check it out here!

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