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Pros and Cons of Studying Chinese in Dalian


greenious

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Hi,

I'm planning to spend this summer in China and take an intensive Chinese summer program. I am still indecisive about choosing the city. I have a sister in Dalian, so it would be one of my choices to stay. I'm also interested in Shanghai or Beijing as they are much bigger cities and offer more experiences in terms of things to do and the diversity of people.

What are the pros and cons of studying/living in Dalian over Shanghai or Beijing? Please help me decide!

Thanks!

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My personal opinion, having lived in Dalian for a few years:

A big pro of Dalian for studying Chinese is its relatively small Western community, but one sufficiently big to provide a support network should you need one. Also, the local community is unlikely to treat you as very special for being foreign - few "Hallo-ah" shouts on the street unlike smaller cities. Dalian remains quite inexpensive for living, and there's lots of mixing opportunities.

Dalian's smaller economically, and a lot less international than Beijing or Shanghai. The foreign population is significantly smaller. If you want to come to China to network with expat business people and do some Chinese on the side they're probably the best choice; if you want to come to China for the nightlife, and do some Chinese on the side they're also good choices as cities. For someone new to China I usually recommend learning some decent Chinese before doing the networking thing: makes you more credible to potential employers/partners.

What university program are you thinking of? That's a big factor too, perhaps the most important one.

Shoot me a PM if you'd like more specific info.

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Dalian is the best choice, hands down.

You can visit Beijing to "enjoy" a dust storm and crowded subways every now and then and you can occasionally visit Shanghai to "enjoy" high-priced imported foreign food and drink if you absolutely must.

I'll admit I'm biased.

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  • 1 month later...

Dalian was a great place to immerse myself with Chinese language. I studied three months at a private language school. In my spare time I went to Olympic Plaza where there is a luxury fitness center that has a bowling alley, ping pong tables, badminton courts, and video games. I bowled in brand new lanes for 15 yuan per game, and took ping pong lessons for 50 yuan. At nights I enjoyed eating street foods and the occasional fancy restaurant. The street food consists of stalls set up in many areas all over the city. You can sit on little benches, and eat barbequed fare (lamb,chicken,pork) with beer. Another typical fare is bowls of veggies/seafood skewers dipped on spicy soup. All of these activities kept me busy while I learned chinese, did my homework, and mingled with shopkeepers, waitresses. I also went to xinghai beach a couple of times, shopped at Victory Plaza underground and Newmart shopping mall. Even though there is an expat community there, and there is Dalianxpat website, they were not very active during the summer. One other thing I would recommend is to get the travel urges out of the way, before arriving to Dalian. Perhaps travel to Beijing or other major cities beforehand, and then go to Dalian to strictly study.

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There is a small private school named Dalian Ruiwen, which I found out from a blog posted by a fellow American. As I combed through the various posts in Chinese forums, I read that many times, private language schools offer a great deal due to the smaller teacher-student ratio. It was good value for me because I basically had private lessons or at most with 2-3 other students.. Also, I was the only English speaking student while I was there, so I had to force myself to communicate in Chinese with students and faculty. It was very comprehensive: we had Tingli (listening exercises), extensive pronunciation drills with all my teachers, character writing exercises, plus the usual (dialogue, grammar, reading, vocabulary). We used BLCU books and listening material.

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For such a short time (just one summer), I wouldn't say there's a big difference between going to Dalian, or Beijing or Shanghai. Of course this is just my personal opinion, but I think Dalian is big enough that you won't get too bored of it after only a couple of months. On the positive side, Dalian is relatively clean and modern, and fairly compact so getting around is not too difficult. Also, I think Chinese people will be more enthusiastic to speak to you there, rather than in Beijing or Shanghai where foreigners (even Chinese-speaking foreigners) are two-a-penny. The down-side of Dalian, in my view, is that it lacks much by way of traditional cultural artifacts. But if you have time to travel, Shenyang is not far away, which has one of only two imperial palaces in China, as well as a few nice parks, old tombs, and temples. Dandong is also close to Dalian. Not particularly historical, but you get a view of the North Korean town of Sinuiju across the river. And if you're brave enough to travel to the more rural areas, there's a castle at Fuzhoucheng. (I went there, but unfortunately didn't have time to explore the castle, so I don't know how good it is inside).

I've not spent an awful lot of time in Beijing, but I've lived in Shanghai for a few years. It is quite different compared with Dalian or Beijing. In terms of cultural attractions, it beats Dalian hands down, but comes nowhere near Beijing. Shanghai is good, however, being close to Hangzhou, Suzhou and Nanjing, which are all worth visiting. In terms of lifestyle, though, I think it's probably the place in China where you feel least like you are in China. I don't know whether you'd see that as a positive or negative, but personally, I think if I only had a limited time to spend in China, I'd want to go somewhere that is not so internationalised.

As for learning Chinese specifically, I think anywhere in China would be pretty much the same. It really depends on how much effort you put in.

Oh, and the other thing, Shanghai gets ridiculously hot in the summer. I don't know about Beijing, but Dalian is quite pleasant in the summer. (Can still be quite hot though).

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There is a small private school named Dalian Ruiwen, which I found out from a http://askory.phratry.net/skorea/2008/07/09/dalian-ruiwen-language-school/"> blog posted by a fellow American.

Thanks very much for the information. In 2008 I tried to attend a summer session at DUT, but it did not work out well, at least in part because of the Olympics. But I like Dalian and continue to be interested in studying Chinese there. Since I don't care about a degree, private schools are always my first choice.

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I loved Dalian. I booked my program for the summer (2006) through HYCC and attended Liaoning Shifan Daxue. In 2005 I was at BLCU/Beijing for the same amount of time and learned virtually nothing. I picked up a lot of colloquial Chinese in Dalian, not to mention it was cheaper (program, housing, food, everything) and the people a lot friendlier. Dalian in the summer is nice, too - beaches are nearby (nothing the best in the world) and everything (IMO) is way cleaner than Beijing. In fact, if I didn't need to go to Beijing for my research I'd return to Dalian any day.

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