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Nankai University & Tianjin in general


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Hey all! I'm starting college next week, and I'm starting to look into studying abroad already, because I'm obsessive like that.

Anwyay, my school has a direct study abroad program (which is probably the easiest way to go about things) to Nankai. Now, I've not really heard glowing things about Nankai or the city of Tianjin, and truthfully from my research Tianjin looks like not such a nice place, and Nankai has tons of foreign students.

But, what you read isn't everything, so if anyone could give me their opinion of either Nankai University or Tianjin, I'd really appreciate it.

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I studied in Tianjin for a year, and lived right opposite the Nankai front gate. I can't comment on their language centre (i studied at TJ Normal Uni) but here's what i thought about TJ:

Good points:

People very friendly, and speak pretty standard Mandarin (unlike eg Xiamen, where they speak min nan hua)

Cheap rent if you want to rent a flat (compared to eg Beijing or Shanghai)

Good food - Xinjiang kebabs, lots of Korean food, plus all traditional Chinese stuff

Although it's not a beautiful city, it's very typical, so if you want to understand Chinese city-dwellers' lives, it's a good place to be.

It's retained a lot of the street life and markets that have disappeared from the centres of more modernised cities.

Bad points:

No real places of interest to visit (they've knocked down Ancient Culture Street)

Very dirty and polluted, and generally not as pretty as alternative places to study like Qingdao or Xiamen.

If you want to go travelling, you might have to go to Beijing to get train tickets if you want sleepers.

I had a great time there, largely because i made a good group of Chinese friends. I don't remember there being too many Westerners in Nankai, most of the foreign students were Korean or Japanese, and prefer to talk in Chinese than English.

I'd say if you're on a short course, it might be better to go somewhere more immediately likeable, eg Qingdao, Hangzhou, Xiamen. But if you're going to be there for a long time, and you make an effort to get to know the place and its people, it is probably more rewarding than going to one of the more modern sanitised cities that i mentioned above.

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i agree with Yang Rui - Tianjin is a really "authentic" taste of modern Chinese life, which unfortunately means it's a bit gritty in places. but tianjin people are great, and they swear a lot (it's said that Tianjin is China's "最大的農村"). I spent a year studying there too and, having now visited loads more supposedly nicer Chinese cities, i wouldn't have chosen anywhere else over Tianjin.

Foreigners are fairly thin on the ground, which may be good or bad depending on your POV, but there are enough to get an International Football Team going if you want to. and i never had much trouble getting train tickets there either.

by far the biggest advantage springs from one of the biggest disadvantages: the lack of nice things to see and do in Tianjin forces you to make local friends, speak shitloads of Chinese and "get into Chinese culture" (this is starting to sound like a ****ing lonely planet travel guide, i'll stop here).

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