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Studying Chinese in Shanghai and Beijing - student ages, class times and city life


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I'm thinking of doing a 3 or 6 month mandarin course in Shanghai or Beijing. I want to study in either of those cities because I am a city person (I'm currently in Hong Kong and quite enjoy the lifestyle here).

Any advice on the following will be much appreciated:

- Which unis or cities are more likely to have expats in their late twenties and early thirties there studying/working? I am in this age group and am taking a bit of time off after working for a number of years.

- Does anyone know of any unis that have start times after 8am? (I am definitely not a morning person and think that's way too early!)

- I am also thinking of pursuing other interests (eg music, writing, fashion) whilst pursuing my Chinese studies (I have learnt Chinese before so would not be starting from scratch). Anyone got any views on the two cities on those fronts?

In Shanghai I am currently considering ECNU and Fudan uni

In Beijing I have mainly heard of BLCU and Beijing uni

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I am an 2 nianji student studying in ECNU. In my class about 30% are beween 27-33. Most of those in the 27-33 age range are expats, spouses of expats or in China to do business.

There are more working adults attending first year chinese classes (sometimes as many as half the class).

Class starts at 8:30am in ECNU.

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Thanks very much for that information. Do you like studying in Shanghai? What does 2 nianji mean? Do you know if there are any 3 month courses (or anything else shorter than 6 months) at ECNU? I am finding getting information and forms from their website difficult.

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2 nianji = 2nd grade/2nd year

Each semester is 4.5months (20 weeks). Shanghai is my fav city in China. However, learning Chinese in Shanghai is nothing spectacular. If you just want to learn the language, smaller cities are much more cost effective. Shanghai is a good choice if you love to shop and/or are looking for job opportunities. As for the quality of teaching, it is no better than smaller cities. Anywhere you go, there will be good and bad teachers.

If you want to ask ECNU specific questions, you can go to here: http://lxs.ied.ecnu.edu.cn/AnswerList.aspx

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Hi Muse,

:mrgreen: I felt like you are saying what's going on in my head. I've been trying to figure out whether I want to go to Shanghai or Beijing for more than 3 months now, and its even gotten to the point that I applied to Tsinghua Uni in Beijing, and Fudan Uni in Shanghai so I could think longer on the decision. My main purpose for going to China is to learn the language well enough to interview in Chinese. I'm holding a freelance position and will be looking for another as a reporter's assistant. Right now I'm 75% set on Beijing for a number of personal observations and opinions. Maybe sharing them will help you out.

The crowd definitely seems to be younger in Beijing. A lot more expatriates are doing school or starting their careers here than in Shanghai. This makes sense because BJ is more the place that pops up first when somebody thinks China. I've lived in Beijing and Shanghai for a few months each, and while Shanghai is really good if you're set on pursuing a business career (or finance related), Beijing seems a better place to network with people in all industries. For example, BJ makes more sense for me because I can meet people in embassies, entrepreneurs, students, as well as other writers-- a more diverse set that would more helpful to me with story sources, cutting red tape, or even being more in the know about opportunities in other fields. Also--just in terms of resources Like more private tutors, a bit cheaper living, better western food places (Lush in Wudaokou has a killer burger), embassies, UN, every company that's in China has a Beijing branch. That's great for part-time internship jobs I would think :mrgreen:

That's not to say Shanghai doesn't have all these things--there are plenty of opportunities there. DEFINITELY, it does. Shanghai is a lot more business and financially focused, so it's perfect if you're going to be pursuing something related to that.

Where it all sits is your passions and objectives for this trip. What is really important to you, and what do you want to leave with? Sort through your brain. My profile is that I'm native Shanghainese and fluent in the dialect. I quite literally left my heart in Shanghai. If I chose Shanghai, I could get free housing and I suspect a easier time landing jobs than with my conversational Mandarin. But I'm most likely going to chose Beijing because my focus is on Mandarin skills and career, and I feel that the range of topics I can write about in Shanghai would be very limited. Also if I were to stay in Shanghai, I would not progress as much in Mandarin because of the temptation to use dialect to get my point across all the time.

From living in Shanghai this winter, I noticed that expats in Shanghai tend to be older because they're established people from their companies sent on a nice salary package. So rather than clubbing one one night, more people are going to be home with their kids, or chatting with co-employees at the wine bar.That's kinda paradoxical, considering that Shanghai has some really fierce clubs (mostly populated with hip locals who know how to party, vs. more partying expats in BJ). But while the general expat pop is older (i'd say 30s-40s), if you dorm at uni you can totally drag your same-age ish classmates out :wink:

Btw, Fashion in Shanghai is also AMAZING. Maybe you can combine those two interests--there is always some great two square feet big clothing store around the corner, and diversity of styles and people who own these boutique stores is really fascinating. HK --> Shanghai would probably be an easier switch I think. Both very frenetic, glamorous, a bit classist. Also, Shanghai has a great jazz scene!!

I don't know of any uni programs that start after 8 am, so if you're set on that your best bet would be getting a tutor, a private program or homestay (I've heard Lotus homestay is good , but I'm not sure if its in Shanghai--google?).

Good luck in your decision :mrgreen: I hope my two cents helps, though its all personal opinion and observations. I think the most important thing is to not let your worry get in the way of your excitement--after all, anywhere in China will be a fricken amazing experience--you're going at a time of great change and growth. China is like a buffet of crazy yummy shit <3 No matter where you decide, what will ultimately be instrumental to a positive experiences is your determination in school, determination to explore or work at your passions, and determination to have fun balanced harmoniously.

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