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futurexuesheng

Which university to study Chinese language

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futurexuesheng

Hello everyone !

 

I'm currently looking at Chinese universities to study mandarin for a year in a non-degree program (I'm a beginner).

Although I love Shanghai, I wanted to go to "smaller" cities to get a better sense of China and hopefully practice mandarin more easily...

I was looking at Hangzhou (Zhejiang Gonshang University which has a very intensive program), Nanjing (Nanjing Normal University or Southeast University) for example. 

 

Has anyone ever been to one of those cities ? What do you think about them in terms of architecture/culture, "livability", and daily costs ?
Do you have any other good university to advise (in other cities) ?

 

Thank you !

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js6426

Hi, and welcome to the forums!  I am currently studying at Harbin Institute of Technology.  At the moment I am doing a degree program, but I did a semester of the short course program here before starting and can totally recommend it.  The teaching was great and I felt like I improved a lot.  You also have the added advantage that you'll get the most standard Chinese in China if you study here!

 

As far as the city itself goes, it's a brilliant place to be.  It's not super touristy which is nice, and if you're here for a year then you'll get to experience both the heat and the cold!  Obviously I am biased, and I can't compare Harbin to either of the other cities you mentioned, but right now I really wouldn't want to be anywhere else.  If you have any questions about studying here then let me know, I will be happy to help.

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ZhangKaiRong

If you really want to practice Chinese, I would go to even lower tier cities, where there is a very little chance to run into someone with good English. I would also rather go to the Northern part of China first to be exposed to a more standard accent. For a second visit, you're good to go anywhere...

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DavyJonesLocker
13 minutes ago, ZhangKaiRong said:

If you really want to practice Chinese, I would go to even lower tier cities, where there is a very little chance to run into someone with good English.

True but some are pretty grim! Might be a big culture shock. 

Tianjin is a lovely city but no clue about the universities. Its a more upmarket city in China.  

I wouldn't just think solely about learning Chinese. Where you live is important as you may hate it. Going really local can be pretty off-putting if it's your first time in China. 

 

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ZC

I highly recommend Hangzhou! It's drop dead gorgeous and a bit less touristy than Shanghai. It also has a much less shocking  for westerners sort of culture than I feel like many smaller cities have got. You'll still run into people with English there (at most good universities the undergrads have pretty passable English because it's required to get into good Uni's) but it won't be like shanghai where most people know at least a little bit. I wasn't there for super long but as someone living in Shanghai, it felt like a nicer version of here, notably with bigger apartments for less rent. I can't really speak to the others but I feel like you probably can't go wrong with Hangzhou. About dialect if you will be taking classes full time then you will probably get to recognize what's standard and what isn't, at least I have mostly. But all of those places sound like a good choice, just be prepared for a bit of chaos and roll with things and you'll enjoy your time any of those places :)

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LiMo

I'll second Hangzhou. Beautiful city that's not too big but not too small. Hopefully you'll be somewhere near West Lake. 

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futurexuesheng
20 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

True but some are pretty grim! Might be a big culture shock. 

Yes, I've already been to China several times but only to 1st tier cities and for short periods, so I want to go progressively...

I'm really looking for a city with some things to do/visit, historical neighborhoods, and "not too big, not tpo small" as LiMo said 😊 And I've heard a lot of good things about Hangzhou ! 

 

21 hours ago, ZhangKaiRong said:

I would also rather go to the Northern part of China first to be exposed to a more standard accent.

Is the accent really that important ? I feel like except in the North nobody speaks a standard mandarin so as long as I'm not learning a dialect it's fine, right? (And tbt, I'm not a fan of freezing winters even though I didn't know Harbin was that pretty)

 

Thanks everyone for your help !

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DavyJonesLocker

I'd look at tianjing, Chengdu. Xi'an is great and loads of culture. 

Nanjing is another city that is often overlooked. It has a very authentic feel to it.

 

I wouldn't be too bothered about trying to get a "standard accent" . We all try to do this initially but well I don't think it's an imperative. They will teach standard Chinese in the school you attend. 

 

Look at all the Chinese that learn English. Its easy to tell they have been taught American English rather than British English and often there is a detectable American accent to it. However does it really matter?

 

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happy_hyaena

I lived in Nanjing and it's an awesome place. Nanjing University, Dongnan University or Nanjing Normal University all have campuses right in the centre. It has a good combination of being very developed but without suffering from the overcrowding issues that cities like Guangzhou (a city I visited while living in Nanjing and could therefore directly compare it with) had to deal with. I feel like the people there were quite polite, probably because there isn't the same urbanization rate, and because Jiangsu province itself is very developed, and is said to be the most developed province overall, containing other rich cities like Suzhou and Wuxi. Shanghai is also only 1 hour away by high speed railway. Another great thing about Nanjing is the sense of history, having served as the capital to several ancient kingdoms/empires and the Repbulic.

 

So compared to other cities, I feel that Nanjing is quite a modern city with close connections to many cool places. It's quite developed so the culture shock won't be too big, but at the same time you won't have to pay the high rents that you might have to in other cities like Shanghai and Beijing.

 

The biggest drawback of living in Nanjing is the weather. It gets very hot and stuff during the summer months, and because of the lack of heating in South China, the cold is not to be underestimated either. Another drawback is the accent - you won't have any issues talking to younger and educated people, but middle aged shop keepers for example might be a little difficult to understand, and the elderly completely impossible. Pro Tip: Nanjing people have a difficult time differentiating between n and l when they are at the beginning of a word.

 

Regarding foreigners, the foreigners at my university (Nanjing University) were mostly Koreans who I used Chinese with anyway. If I really wanted to I could've chosen to only hang out with other Westerners, but I chose to not hang out with them too often. Honestly I do think that it will be pretty difficult to not hang out with other Westerners. Making real Chinese friends when your Chinese is still at a beginner-intermediate level is difficult, and there were times I felt very lonely. My Korean classmates, while nice also pretty much only stuck to themselves in their own Korean group. So regarding this, my advice is that it's okay for you to be with other foreigners, but be selective. Stay away from the foreigners who only know how to complain about China and who spend their every night drinking alcohol at the expat bar. I like to go out and drink as much as anyone else, but I leave that stuff for the weekends as a reward. Monday to Friday afternoons were spent exercising or studying. (That's another tip: study more than just what you need to. Preparing for the HSK test is a good secondary-aim to keep you occupied.)


Good luck.

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DavyJonesLocker
7 minutes ago, happy_hyaena said:

Stay away from the foreigners who only know how to complain about China and who spend their every night drinking alcohol at the expat bar.

 

 

A good rule for anyone in China!

Far too many of those people about, I hardly socialise with any foreigners now. Too negative about China

 

I have been to Nanjing a few times, I always got a nice feel to that city. And rents are a lot cheaper than Beijing or Shanghai!

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happy_hyaena
8 minutes ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

 

Far too many of those people about, I hardly socialise with any foreigners now. Too negative about China

 

I have been to Nanjing a few times, I always got a nice feel to that city. And rents are a lot cheaper than Beijing or Shanghai


There was a small group of Brits studying at the same time as me who had single-handedly destroyed their university's reputation among the teachers. From what I heard from other people, they would come in late every day, sit themselves at the back of the classroom and just not take part. I hung out with them once or twice at the beginning of the Spring semester when I knew no one and nothing and was just trying to absorb as much as possible from the people who had already been there during the Autumn semester. When they casually mentioned that they had cheated during exams, and that it was okay since "well, basically, everyone does it, especially the Korean girls!" that's when I knew to back off.

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ChTTay

Definitely 100% matters what the locals speak. 

 

If you go to a Northern city where people all speak something like standard mandarin then you are being exposed to that every day. Sitting on the bus, you can listen and understand some conversations. Talking to people in a shop, they’re just talking to you as they would anyway.

 

If you went somewhere in Yunnan, for example, then they’d likely only speak Mandarin (if they could at all) just to speak to you. In these real life listening situations, it’s likely you’d be listening to a lot more dialect. Stay on the forum long enough and you’ll read examples of other members living in places like Yunnan being asked why they don’t learn the local language, as they’ve been there so long.

 

Unless you’re interested in learning a dialect, then stick to a place where most speak something similar to standard. Otherwise, you’re not providing yourself with the best learning environment you possibly can. It’s all very nice limiting English, but what about maximising Chinese? You’re learning mandarin in school then going out into a city where people prefer a non-mandarin dialect for daily conversations? 

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futurexuesheng

Hi all ! 


Thanks for everyone's advise, and I'm sorry for the late reply...

Things actually changed a bit: I recently got in touch with someone working in the exact position I want, and he strongly advised to find an internship during my stay in China (since they are officially forbidden, I guess it'd be easier to do it under a student visa). 
But, to find an internship in such a field (international relations research, think tank, embassies or big companies), I would have to go in big cities, very big cities... Like Beijing or Shanghai...

 

It's really not what I wanted to do at the beginning (and still not fully convinced) but I'm now looking at Beijing Language and Culture University or Beida, and East China Normal University in Shanghai. I'd probably rather go to Beijing because it seems less international, and because they speak standard mandarin. 
Still, I already applied to Zhejiang University, and I'm thinking about applying to SouthEast University's intensive program in Nanjing...

 

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roddy

Welcome to the site! Zhejiang and Nanjing are both within easy reach of Shanghai, so it'd be pretty straightforward to visit to set up an internship and spend a bit of time there. Although I mean for a one month summer internship, not every weekend.

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AaronUK
41 minutes ago, futurexuesheng said:


But, to find an internship in such a field (international relations research, think tank, embassies or big companies), I would have to go in big cities, very big cities... Like Beijing or Shanghai...

 

I'm not sure where you are from, but I know the British Foreign Common office recuits to china, they also have some temporary jobs going for Visa clearance in Beijing. Its not related to the work what you want, but could still be a good company name for your CV if thats your future field.

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