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Chengdu, Nanjing or Dalian


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Here we go again, a thread on which city / university to choose. I have been reading other posts about those cities but I need to hear your thoughts of them compared to each other, I will after all spend a year in the city I end up choosing.

First, let me tell you about what I'm looking for:

I want a cheap city, where I can get a nice apartment for not too much money. I'm planning to spend 3000 - 5000 kuai / month on rent, and I basically want a one or two room apartment, full furnished with modern furniture (4-star hotel standard on furnitire, not just a plain bed and a desk, I think you get the picture), nice television etc.

I'd like a good environment for learning chinese, the locals doesn't have to speak pure mandarin (which I know they don't do in any of these cities) but when they do speak putonghua I'd like it to be pretty much standard putonghua. I don't want to pick up any strange accent, like how "sh" always seems to sound like pure "s" in Shanghai.

Anyway, since you took the time to read all the way down here I'll tell you about which universities I have been checking out.

Nanjing University

Dalian University of Foreign Languages

Haven't found anything in Chengdu, but I'm sure they have a university. If you know a good university in Chengdu, please tell me so I can check it out.

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I think in any of those cities you can get an ok apartment for that much, but I've never really heard of a place coming fully furnished.

In Dalian and Nanjing, you should hear a lot of pretty standard mandarin. In Dalian they will speak some 东北话 although perhaps not as strongly as further north. In Nanjing I think most people will speak pretty decent mandarin. In Chengdu, there are all kinds of people. You will hear much more in the way of accents there, because its relatively south.

The dating scene is good in all three for sure. Dongbei girls are supposedly the most beautiful in china. Who knows in thats really true. But Dongbei people in general tend to be fun and good people to hang out with. So Dalian might be the best. Nanjing is a big city, so theres of course no end to who you can meet. I don't really know about Chengdu. I've only spent a couple days there. I guess everywhere is good though.

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_________ girls are the most beautiful in china.

Fill in the blank with wherever you are standing in China at the moment. Because that is what it seems the locals will tell you no matter where you are. It is apparently one of the most common nationwide phrases. It must be required to learn to say it before you can graduate, lol.

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In Dalian they will speak some 东北话 although perhaps not as strongly as further north.

The putonghua in Dalian is pretty good in restaurants, hotels, shops, etc. On the otherhand, a lot of the taxi drivers I encountered there spoke a very thick Dalianhua, akin to the taxi drivers in Beijing speaking "hardcore" Beijinghua. That said, the people there in general seem to be very friendly. One thing I did find interesting is that you are expected to clean up your own garbage/tray at the McDonalds over there.

The dating scene is good in all three for sure. Dongbei girls are supposedly the most beautiful in china. Who knows in thats really true.

If you like taller girls, Dalian is the place for you. If you like smaller girls, go south. Someone I work with insists that Dalian girls are the best, but I don't think he was referring to "dating" in the traditional sense.

Fill in the blank with wherever you are standing in China at the moment. Because that is what it seems the locals will tell you no matter where you are. It is apparently one of the most common nationwide phrases.

So the solution then is to travel lots and find out for yourself. :mrgreen:

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You can get the apartment you want, on budget, in any of the three cities. I doubt there's much difference in the nightlife / dating scene between the three, although I suspect Chengdu and Nanjing may have a more Western student / backpacker orientated scene, while in Dalian the expat population is mainly Korean and Japanese, with a healthy sprinkling of Russians. Dalian probably wins in the Mandarin-speaking stakes, although as said they do have their moments.

One thing I did find interesting is that you are expected to clean up your own garbage/tray at the McDonalds over there.


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As a chinese I think Dalian or Nanjing is better for the living qualitity, city, and location. Chengdu is more inside, near the coastline are always better and more open.

if you want to travelling Nanjing is a good location coz near shanghai, and lots of train and airlines.

I live in Nanjing, and know lots of foreigners here, I think is good to learn Chinese here.

Anyway I think Nanjing is a beautiful place.

For dialects, everywhere. Don't depend to learn too much chinese when you go to supermarket or small shops, If you have some chinese friends from University, they propably speak gut Putonghua, and good restaurant even speak good english here.

Girls, I think....Dongbei girls are stronger and taller, they speak loutly and even fight with each other(I mean just sometimes)... The traditional chinese girls in most foreigners eyes are girls from south I think. The girls in Sichuan, chengdu have the best skin, smooth and white. The girls in Nanjing, ahhh, don't know. But I think they are better at using make-up and dressing.

so depends on you.

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Having only been to Dalian, I will state that I heard mostly pretty pure Putonghua spoken there. Girls in Dalian are considerably taller than in other areas I've been to in China, and there were enough cuties (they still don't know how to dress though) but I've heard girls from Sichuan and Hunan look the best. I can't qualify that though. Dalian's a fantastic city and I would wholeheartedly reccommend it for it's kind population, standard pronounciation, climate, air quality and layout (well planned).

As for your rental requirements, you can find beautifully furnished flats in Beijing for that price (maybe not in Guomao, but certainly in other good areas). Can't give you much info with regards to dating though.

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Have lived in Dalian for a couple of years now.

Mostly echo others' comments. Decent air, standard of Chinese is reasonable, nice city in general. Great seafood, a big plus for me.

You should be able to get a 60-80sqm flat in a nice block downtown (near the Foreign Language Uni) for 3000/month, somewhere not quite so downtown (20 minute bus ride, say) more like 2000/month. Both furnished.

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Before this post I was actually quite settled on going to Dalian, but it seems as Nanjing is a great place as well, and I read somewhere that Nanjing University were the third best university in all China (shared with Fudan). I guess one year at Nanjing University would look better in my CV than one year at Dalian University of Foreign Languages.

Maybe I will go with Nanjing... does anyone know an expat site or similar with classified ads for Nanjing so I can check out apartments?

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I believe Hopkins Nanjing is quite a selective program with US prices to boot, so I don't know if the original poster will be studying there, inititally. Apparently there are HSK requirements and a pretty deep application process, even for the certificate program.

As for CVs, most big/western companies really won't care where you went to school. I would not choose based on reputation but from what you read here and from other students. For example, I go to Beijing Normal and I'm more than satisfied. Apparently its a top university in Beijing and top 25 in China (I have no idea where people get such numbers) but it's a well regarded place, especially for teacher training. However, Tsinghua and Beida are the two top schools in Beijing and in China. I chose not to go to them (despite much better recognition and prestige, and nice campuses) because I heard that the quality of teaching Chinese to foriegners was just not as good as at Beijing Normal (though you'll see satisfied students posting about Tsinghua and Beida as well as other schools).

If you want girls who know how you dress, you'll have to chase rich/artsy girls, or go to Shanghai. It's that simple. Chinese fashion simply isn't erm, a forte in other areas.

I think there is a great university (like a top 10 or 15 one) in Dalian, I forget what though.

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There's a listing here, but I don't know how it's calculated - presumably explains in the article I didn't read. As Jamoldo says, take the rankings lightly, there's not much reason to believe they reflect the quality of the Chinese courses. For Dalian, from what I've heard - Dalian University of Foreign Languages doesn't seem to have a great reputation at the moment, one guy I know applied there but then after speaking to a few people switched to Dongcai, Dongbei Caijing Daxue, where I am. As I've said elsewhere, the people I've spoken to on the language courses seem happy enough - a few niggles, but generally happy - but I'm not overly impressed with the Chinese language degree course. I know of one guy at DUT who's complaining about over-large classes, but that's only one guy. I wouldn't say any of that is concrete enough to basis decisions on though.

One university I haven't heard anything about in Dalian is Liaoning Shifan Daxue. This might be worth taking a look at as all else being equal, Shifan's seem to do quite well in the Chinese teaching stakes presumably as a result of having lots of language teaching expertise around. Private schools, if that's of any use - the only two I now about are TLI, which is pricey but gets good reports - I think we have at least two members there at the moment - and 瑞文, which is considerably cheaper - down to RMB20 if the group is big enough - and mainly Japanese and Korean students.

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Roddy, I wrote quite a post about by experience at Liaoshida this summer... somewhere, so if people are interested they can read it here

I'll be blunt about one thing, don't stay in the dorms, they are way overpriced. The surrounding area is FANTASTIC (very Chinese with friendly people).

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Chengdu rocks for quirky accents and wicked Mahjong madness in the People's Park. The food isn't as spicy as it is flavoursome. There's a great atmosphere in Chengdu, the people know how to relax. The chicks may not be as hot as other places but the way they dress certainly earns them the title 'La Mei' 辣妹。The rooftop gardens of Chengdu really make it a beautiful place as far as cities go.

Nanjing is probably more sophisticated 'nite-life' wise, but I've never been there so I couldn't tell you. A bonus is that it's close to Shanghai and as everyone probably knows, Shanghai has almost everything entertainment-wise.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As a Chinese, I have ever lived in dalian, but I haven't lived in nanjian.Howvever, you need pay more money in the two citys than in Chengdu.I am a dongbei people,but now I live in Chengdu,work at in the city,marry a beautiful Sichuan girl and have a cute baby.Even though Chengdu is a inside city in china,but it is very very opening a city in city,it is the fourth rank city. according population in China,three other citys are Beijing,Shanghai,Guangzhou. There is many Chinese tradition cultures in this city,such as Chinese tea,Changing Face(川剧,变脸).....Importantly,Chengdu is the most relax city in China-it is true, i can give my words. If you come here to study Chinese,you can select Sichuan University.here it is. http://www.scu.org.cn .I am student in the university for a PH.D.

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