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Dmac

Huazhong Normal University (China Central Normal University)

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Dmac

I'll be attending Huazhong Normal University 华中师范大学 this coming September (2011) as a language student on the CSC scholarship (yippee!). Even though asking questions about registration dates, room bookings, etc., should be primarily directed to the university, I'll defiantly proceed to ask my questions here anyway - because I'm reasonably confident that I'll get answers here before I do from the university itself :P! (I have, of course, also started the slow process of communicating with the university, as well...!)

There are older threads on this topic that answer similar questions (especially here). However, I want to re-open the stage!

REGISTRATION RELATED QUESTIONS:

What type of room do I get by default on the CSC scholarship at Huazhong Normal? It seems that on the HZNU (or "CCNU" - China Central Normal University) website they list a "single room" as the cheapest room-type. I'm confused about whether this means that I will get a single room because it is cheapest per person (to me, it seems pretty obvious that this should not be the case), or that I will be put in a double room with a roommate because it is the cheapest per person (seems like this should obviously be the case). Looks like a silly question after writing it down, but the website itself is not too clear (e.g. it seems that I cannot book one bed in a double room - leaving the other open for a potential roomie). Furthermore, on the page where one can book a room, the option is given for a 'triple room' - adding to the confusion!

As well, in the accpetance material they state that I should 'reserve my room as soon as possible.' Should I do this even if I'm on the CSC scholarship? - even if I'm okay with a 'cheapest' room assignment (i.e. the room assignment that the scholarship will fully cover)?

When should I register? I remember reading in some older thread that I should plan to be at the University by mid-to-late-August (the semester starts on 1 September, according to my acceptance letter). Should I register between the 15th-31st of August? or is the 31st pushing it a little? Is it helpful to register, say, a week before the 'start of the semester' to get my papers/living essentials in order? When I register (assuming I register at a reasonable time), will I be able to move into the international students' dorm?

MORE GENERALLY:

If you are familiar with the university and/or Wuhan please share your experiences of it with me! At this point all I really know about the area is that it's very hot and humid in the summer, and whatever else I've found on wikipedia. It would be great to hear first-hand experiences.

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Don_Horhe

Hi Dmac! I spent two years in Huazhong Normal University and personally do not think that the university lives up to its name when it comes to teaching Mandarin to foreigners. Check out the second part of the first post in this rant thread I started a few years back to see what I mean.

Their dorms have single and double rooms - the scholarship for one-year students and bachelors covers the expense of a double room (so you'll be sharing), and you have to pay an extra 300 RMB per month if you want a single room. Cable TV and internet cost an extra 30 RMB a month, and are not covered by the scholarship. Don't bother "reserving it as soon as possible" - when you get to the dorms, just tell the guys at the front desk that you want a single room and that you understand you'll have to pay extra. If you don't want a single room, don't even bother. You shouldn't worry about not being able to get a room in the dorm, since accommodation is part of the scholarship, and even is they do run out of rooms, they'll put you up in one of the two hotels (both of which are OK) located in the campus' immediate surroundings.

The semester usually starts somewhere during the first week of September, so yes, it is recommended to get there by the end of August, although it's not fatal if you arrive/register long after classes have started.

In terms of education, I guess it depends on what your goals are. If you want hardcore language and linguistics training at the undergraduate level, then CCNU is definitely not the best choice. If you'll be there just for a year, looking to improve your Chinese and experience China in general, then yes, it's not a bad place. Don't expect CCTV Putonghua in class, though - a significant part of the teachers and administration staff speak with accents that can get quite thick, and you will eventually come across street vendors and cab drivers who can't speak Putonghua at all. I don't mean to scare you or tell you that it's Mandarin hell - there are teachers with impeccable accents who really know their stuff in terms of methodology and approach - it's simply a matter of luck who's group you'll get put into, although changing groups is possible.

Feel free to ask me any further questions about CCNU and Wuhan, either by PM, or, better yet, here in the thread. I know I'm probably making it sound worse that it actually is, and I'm sure that you'll have a very rewarding experience.

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Yu Hu

I am studying in Wuhan University of Technology which is just next to Hua Shi and i am the president of International Culture Exchange Association .We have chinese corner every one or two weeks and debate club for international students. Why not just come to our university! The weather of wuhan is funny:extremly cold in winter and extremly hot in summer. Maybe I can help you find someone in hua shi

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Dmac

Thank you for the honest appraisal, Don_Horhe! First, with respect to registration, I've received this email from the university (after only three days!):

Hello,

You should arrive on Sept. 3rd or 4th. Your room will be assigned before you arrive.

Best wishes!

Coming back to the issue of education, though, it's a shame to hear that you found the rigour of the Chinese linguistics program at CCNU to be lacking. Overall, however, I think I fall into the second 'camp' you describe: I'll be there to boost my language skills to a reasonable degree of fluency, to travel around, and to take some time away from the rigours of academic life - plain and simple. That's not to say that I won't work hard to improve my language skills while I'm in China; it's just that it will be a nice break to be able to focus exclusively on bettering my language, as opposed to also worrying about writing papers, tests, etc., in English. I am also open to gaining an ear for some local dialects, as well, but this is more of an icing-on-the-cake than anything else (and the reason why I'm particularly looking forward to going somewhere outside of Beijing).

Unlike the situation you were in a couple years ago, I have just completed my BA and do intend to, eventually, enroll into a graduate program in a field that may or may not be related to China. On top of this, I'm also batting around the idea of possibly applying to a Chinese school for Chinese philosophy after completing this year of language training, and am resigned to the fact that the degree (or other qualification) bestowed could very well lend next-to-no weight to my CV other than a "this-guy-knows-Chinese-and-has-spent-time-in-China-learning-about-Chinese-philosophy-that's-pretty-neat" factor. Should I choose this course of action, it would be more to satisfy an interest than to perform a 'career move.' However, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it!

In your other post you mention:

Apart from Practical Chinese, the university I'm in now offers 国情, Ancient History, Ancient Literature as elective subjects. They used to have Phonetics and Phonology, and I think there's a semester of Classical Chinese in the third year, but nobody from the administration can confirm that.

What's the difference between "Ancient Literature" and "Classical Chinese"? If I have some background in putonghua and classical Chinese, might I have an opportunity as a ”普通进修生“ focusing in “现代汉语” to take some 'classical' or 'ancient literature' courses? Did the language students you knew (if you knew any!) have the opportunity to take electives like these?

About the dialect issue: Were you able to pick up any of the local (non-putonghua) dialect while you were in Wuhan? Is it completely unintelligible to one who only knows putonghua? Did your spoken putonghua suffer from the accents of those around you, or did you find that your speaking stayed pretty 'by-the-book' and that only your ear was affected?

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Don_Horhe

Since you fall in the second camp, then CCNU and Wuhan in general will be fine, all the more so since you also want to pick up some of the local dialect. Wuhanese is technically a branch of Mandarin, but shares many characteristics with the southern dialects. It initially comes across as rustic, uncouth and totally unintelligible, but once you wrap your ear around the differences between Putonghua (which are quite systematic), comprehension will greatly increase and you might even get to like it. Furthermore, exposure to dialects IMHO is beneficial in the long run, since you are more likely to encounter people who speak with accents than trained news anchors.

Wuhan is also a perfect base camp for travel - it is basically in the center of the PRC, making it equally close to all major destinations, not to mention that you can get on the world's fastest train and arrive in Guangzhou in a little over 2 hours.

Classical Chinese is a subject strictly oriented at learning the classical language, while Ancient Literature basically aims at understanding the historical and political context of certain works, focusing less on the language itself.

As a registered student in CCNU, you can take as many electives you want, regardless of the faculty they are offered in, both formally and informally (i.e. no end of year/term assessment).

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桑德拉

Hi there I am also a full scholarship student that is coming to CCNM in Sep2011, I have no clue when to come in for registration I have called the people over there but what they say just don't make sence. So please help. And I want to know if changing majors is possible. I want a single room but this whole booking online thing I really don't trust, don't look legit.

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Dmac

@ 桑德拉: They were pretty clear when speaking to me; I should add, though, that I've only had one exchange with them, and it was over email :P. I'd imagine phoning may be trickier - it's much more difficult to speak over the phone in a language you aren't familiar with than it is to write an email in that language (i.e. I'd bet that the majority of their staff wouldn't feel comfortable fielding questions in English from a confused student about the intricacies of room bookings). According to the email I received a couple months ago, we should be there to register by "September 3rd or 4th." I'm planning to get there earlier, though - it's looking like I'll be in Wuhan by August 31st/Sept 1st. I'm going to try to register before the 3rd.

As for the rooms: apparently, as CSC students, they assign our rooms "before we arrive" (quoting, again, from the email I quoted above). I didn't ask specifically about changing to a single room, but I remember reading somewhere on this forum that room changes/upgrades for csc students are typically done when you're checking in (I'm sure you could find a thread on this if you search around).

With the major, I'm not too sure. Judging from Don_Horhe's comments, it seems that we'll be given the opportunity to pick from an array of electives, no matter what major we are taking. Are you there as a ”普通进修生“ as well? or are you there for a degree?

I know what you mean about the website! The credibility really depends on which one you go to (there are multiple sites). This one actually looks quite credible, when compared to this one (I especially like the translations in the "Beautiful Campus" section). "Follen leaves in gay profusion."

@ Don_Horhe: Thank you for your help!

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Don_Horhe

Rooms are best booked if you arrive early, around August 30-31st. They are indeed assigned before you arrive, but when checking in at the dormitory, you can ask for a single room, which costs an extra 300 RMB per month, unless you are doing a MA or PhD, in which case the single room is part of the scholarship.

You can enroll in as many electives as you want, but nobody will give you an actual list of what's available and in which department. Unfortunately, you have to do all the research by yourself. One of my former teachers at CCNU told me in a recent e-mail that they've changed the entire administrative body, which, according to her, are even less adequate than the people before.

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lukoktonos

Hi, I teach English at CCNU and have taken classes and will take classes again in the upcoming year. I live in the teach apartments, which are connected to one of the dorms and across the road from the other.

I agree with everything that has been said regarding the instruction and accent there, and would be more than willing to show you around or answer any questions about the area. What sorts of things are you curious about?

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monsterz88

Oh, CCNU. Generally a lot of things you might think should be taken seriously won't be, which can be both good and bad. I think it's a very suitable place for the self-motivated. There's a lot there to learn; the classroom environment is good when the other students are serious about it, too. I did a summer study at CCNU; only after arriving did I realize they didn't actually have a summer program and that they hadn't actually found me a homestay like they said they would. I then got put in a dorm room with a girl that didn't seem to like Americans or maybe just didn't want a roommate and didn't say a single word to me except for the day I arrived and the day that she left. That aside, overall I had a really fun, worthwhile, rewarding experience.

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jommin

Lukoktonos - What are the teachers' apartments like? I just got offered a job teaching English at CCNU this September, and am debating whether or not to get an apartment, or take the one they offered.

Also, I got offered the job from AEMG (Australia Education Management Group), a company that says that they run a program with various universities in China for English teachers (not a recruiter though?) Is there someone you know at CCNU that I can contact to confirm this? I've tried emailing a few email address on the website, but haven't gotten a response and I want to make sure its legit before I sign the contract.

I would really appreciate it!!

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lukoktonos

The teachers apartments are actually very nice, the building is brand new as of last year. Bedroom with big bed, tv, wardrobe, balcony with washing machine and clotheslines, living room with big couch, another tv, coffee table, standard bathroom with nice heating lights, extra room that is like a study/extra bedroom (futon)/dining room, smallish but sufficient kitchen.

There should indeed be a couple of jobs available, as we did not all return from last year, so it should be legit. The email of our contact, Lory Ai, is [email protected] He handles all of the foreign teachers contracts, etc. He might not be the best about replying to emails in a timely fashion :)

The salary might seem low compared to some other options, but the workload is really light and it's very easy to pick up extra income from tutoring or a 2nd teaching job, or to take Chinese classes.

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方便面

@Dmac:

I'll also be in Wuhan at huazhong normal for September 2011 on CSC and was surprised to read your questions on accommodation and how similar they are to my own questions.

I'll be there as part of a one year "College Preparation Class" before beginning a bachelor's degree in Shenyang.

There's absolutely no way I'm gonna live with someone else in the same room as me so I'm definitely going to push for a single room.

Which email address at huazhong normal have you been emailing? I've been trying to get onto someone ever since receiving my scholarship info in the mail but have had literally zero responses. So some help would be appreciated.

I arrive on the 14th (next Sunday) so I'll do as much sussing out of things as I can before the actual "registration period" which as far as i know is on the 3rd and 4th of Sept.

Cheers.

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Dmac

Hey 方便面!

I've been emailing [email protected] . Like I said above, they've been pretty good with getting back to me. All of my responses have come from someone named "艳艳". If you are able to register early, please let me know if there are any 'kinks' along the way!

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方便面

Due to not getting any email responses and since I arrived in Wuhan the other day, I decided to just go in and see them.

CCNU sorted a dorm room on the spot and other reports of 300yuan per month extra for a single room for scholarship students is correct. They require 300yuan deposit and ur passport. And if u arrive before the 1st of September it costs 40yuan per day plus power/water etc.

Not many foreigners around at this stage, but the ones I have seen are all African and I have met some very nice people from Uganda.

The room was FILTHY when I got it, and stank of god only knows what. But I've got it pretty smick now and the person before me left a whole bunch of useful stuff like a hot plate, an extra table and a water dispenser thing.

If you get there early enough ask if u can have a look at a few rooms coz the first one they gave me had a giant concret wall blocking the window which was hilariously awful.

I'll be in my room full time after this weekend so anyone is welcome to come say g'day. (Building 5 room 320)

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realmayo

Couple of rooms down from where I used to live a couple of years ago.

One thought on studying Chinese at Huashi (=abbreviated name of the university): when I was there the university was chosen as one of a handful of universities which would take scholarship students for one year and teach them Chinese before they went on to other universities (or some of them stayed at Huashi) to study the major they had chosen. When studying their major, they would be supposed to have good enough Chinese to attend lectures and classes with their Chinese classmates. So: Huashi and the other universities receiving these students for a year were told they had that one year to get them to pass a certain HSK level (forgotten which one).

I understand this was a big ministry of education diktat. And there was lots of pressure to make sure it was achieved.

Now actually, none of this applied to me. But: assuming that you are in a class where most of the students will be leaving to study their major, be aware that the teaching is likely to be very geared towards passing that HSK level. What I guess that would mean is that you should have a think about what the HSK *does not* really teach you, and make sure that if you're not getting much in-class action on those areas, that you make up for that in other ways. For instance, if good pronunciation isn't rewarded by the HSK, there might not be much time spent on it in class, so you should find find say a Chinese student who can help.

Chinese is tough enough to need plenty of self-study outside of class anyway, so I don't think any classroom-based focus on HSK has to be a bad thing, as long as you are aware of what the deficiencies of that approach are and take the time to make up for them.

I should add that you might find the teaching completely different to this! And I'm not saying it's a big deal or anything, just my one bit of background advice. I found all the experienced teachers there excellent. Good luck & enjoy!

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bunny87

to those of you that have already arrived: what has been your impression of Wuhan so far?

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方便面

Not to be disheartening, it's a bit of a dump. I lived in Harbin for over a year and a half and everyone, including Harbiners, say that Harbin is one of the filthiest places in the country. So far what I've seen of Wuhan, it's significantly dirtier, which I think has a lot to do with the subway construction which is still going on.

Also, this city is huge. I mean really, really big. What might look like a few blocks away on google maps, is actually 45min by car. So far I've spent the last week buying things for my room. Going backwards and forwards around town by the bus system is not only extremely uncomfortable in the near 40 degree heat, but it also just take a long time.

The campus here at CCNU is a mixture of new-ish looking university buildings scattered within a bunch of crumbling apartment buildings. It is actually very odd. And it's far away from pretty much everything except what is on campus or directly outside the gate ie. shopping malls.

I was lucky enough to meet a bloke who lived here before, and he showed me the gym, which is small but seems to have a good range of equipment and classes.

All in all, in my oppinion so far, the city itself and campus is one of the worse places I've seen yet, but that's not to say I or anyone else won't enjoy living here. There is more to a city that how hot, dirty, old and far away it is. If you are coming here for the environment and surroundings... You're going to be disappointed. But if you're coming for the cultural and language experience, Wuhan is as "Chinese" a city as they get.

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realmayo

Don't worry about the heat, it'll be miserably cold in a few months!

Am surprised you'd need to take any bus to go shopping, should be plenty of places just a few minutes walk away.

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