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Ele

Qingdao or Kunming?

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Ele

Hi all! 

After having read a loooot of your posts (great job, thanks!!!) regarding life and language studies in different Chinese cities, I decided to still ask for your thoughts as I am struggling making my final decision. 

I already thank you all for your replies! 

 

I will be moving to China for 12 months next March. I have already decided to study in a private language school and my aim is to improve my spoken and written Chinese from an actual hsk2 to hsk5. 

 

Given that I would like to live in a city that has a pleasant climate (which for me means not too hot and a rather low humidity, I do not mind the cold), that is quite modern, with good infrastructure, clean, with possibility to get some western food if I am up to, and has nice surroundings, I narrowed my choices to Qingdao and Kunming. 

 

In both cities the cost of life is not as high as in first tier cities, with Kunming being the cheapest between the two. I like Kunming also because Yunnan is a stunning region, and also if I have already traveled a bit around Yunnan, there are plenty of wonderful places I still would love to visit. 

On the other hand, the city of Qingdao looks nicer to me, more modern, it has the sea, and is between Beijing, Shanghai, Korea and Japan. If people will speak in Mandarin to me in Qingdao, they will have a probably less strong accent than in Kunming. 

As a plus (also if I have no concrete plans to stay in China after this one year) as I speak Italian, English, German fluently and I will hopefully speak Mandarin soon, I might come up with appealing job possibilities in Qingdao rather than in Kunming. 

On the culinary side: I like Kunming's diversity, I do not eat fish and seafood, and I am an absolute tea lover :) 

 

As you can see, I am split between the two cities. I hope I gave you enough information regarding what it is important to me and I would be very grateful if you could share your thoughts and suggestions! 

Thank you! 

 

Warm greetings 

Ele

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889

Those are two of the best choices in China. No mistake whichever you choose.

 

Myself, I'd probably go with Qingdao because I'm more comfortable with the sea at hand and because Qingdao has a very distinct feel among Chinese cities. And I prefer north to south.

 

Qingdao is also a much smaller place than vast and growing Kunming. In that sense, it's easier to get a handle on Qingdao.

 

But in both places, the key question is where will you actually be living and studying? You can easily find yourself in the middle of nowhere if you don't check the location carefully.

 

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vellocet

Hmm, I'd say Qingdao.  I've been to Kunming, and while it is nice, it is too nice.  It's the kind of place you wake up 5 years later and say, "What happened to me?"  You seem to remember having a wonderful time but didn't really get anything done.  

 

If you want to travel Qingdao is better.  Kunming is really far from anywhere and the airfare cost gets expensive.  Unless you want to travel to Burma and Vietnam.  Anyway yeah it's a toss up but that's my two fen.  

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pon00050

I sort of agree with vellocet.

 

Kunming is indeed far from anywhere. Very isolated.

Unless you are particularly interested in that corner of the world, I would stick with Qingdao.

With that being said, I do think that there is a lot to be explored in the Yunnan province.

 

So, I also agree with the other user. Both are great choices.

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DavyJonesLocker

Been to both a few times. Qingdao for me. As @889 I just got a nice feel for the city. Near the sea , some nice cosy places. Near other places too easy to travel.  

 

There are some ugly parts naturally but so have all cities in China. Winter can be s bit windy and rainy so I'd imagine Kunming might be better weather wise in winter. 

12 months will go on a flash! As for getting around, buses are good it seems but a little scooter might be ideal. They are cheap and you can easily sell it afterwards . No licence needed. 

 

I'd be a bit realistic about your goals. though . HSK5 in a year is a bit of a stretch. That was my goal too! How niave I was but looks like you're a good language learner. . You could spend all day inside looking at characters, work day and night to pass the exam  but it would be a shame to come to China and not take in what it has to offer. Also focusing on HSK material is a lot different than everyday social interaction. Lots of words I use daily, ever day don't appear in HSK6 nor any text book I have used this far. I have never once used the word 宿舍 which seems to come up far too much in textbooks)

 

I know several people who came to China for a year, did nothing but study for 11 months and suddenly realised their time was running out so just went on holidays for the remaining time

 

Depends what you want out of your time here I guess. 😏

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abcdefg

Kunming is a tea hub. Easy to find excellent tea here. Lots of heavily-accented Mandarin and minority languages on the street day to day. Good food here; good weather here. 

 

I love going to Qingdao because of its fresh seacoast air and its outstanding seafood. Have not been in mid-winter. 

 

You should probably begin looking into the private language schools available in both those places (Qingdao and Kunming.) That might wind up being a deciding factor. 

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889

You'll note that we all mention the sea in connection with Qingdao. That's because it's such an important and distinctive part of the city's identity.

 

Most Chinese seaports, like Dalian and Shanghai, don't have much of a seaport feel, because the actual sea is some good distance from the urban area.

 

But at Qingdao, the coast is right there at the doorstep, and there's a long and wonderful promenade to enjoy it. And everyone does.

 

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DavyJonesLocker

I never went north of Qingdao but there are a  lot of nice little beach resorts (by Chinese standards) south of the city. Less than an hour by car easily from the center.  It would be cheap enough to get here by didi. It's a good choice actually as foreigners are few and far between so speaking Chinese is a must, but enough that you are not seen like the circus freak rolled into town

Lots of nice fish restaurants in Qingdao too is will be lacking most of China. Sea fish that is. I just went into ones at random and all pretty decent.

 

 

 

 

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Ele

Thank you very much for your replies! I didn't expect Qingdao to be so much popular than Kunming :D

had already looked at schools in both cities before narrowing the choice to these two. I found some good programs in both, so I wanted to hear your opinion apart from the schools. 

I will be travelling a little, I guess, but my first goal is to learn Mandarin, and I am sure I will not regret it if I will spend all 12 months in the same city. 

I hope to find a nice family that will host me and practice a lot in the everyday life too. 

I totally agree with Davy saying that some of the hsk word are totally useless in the everyday life. I might not even take the hsk exam: I talked in terms of it to give you an idea of the progress I would like to achieve, but basically I hope to be able to easily hold a conversation and read newspapers :) after these 12months.

Also if I am not the beach person, I agree with you all saying that the sea gives a very distinctive character to the city, and it will be just lovely to simply walk along it. I might go with Qingdao. 

Once again thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences! 

Kind regards 

Ele

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XiaoXi

I'm currently considering exactly the same thing! I currently live in Chengdu and live in Heilongjiang before that. The first thing I noticed was the difference in temperature of course...but in fact it was Chengdu I found colder due to the lack of heating. Last winter my house got down to 14 degrees! Not sure what the thinking behind not having heating in the south is to be honest, it might be alright for Shenzhen or Hainan but it's a bit of a stretch in Chengdu and probably Kunming will be similar. They even have huge windows that can't be closed in the corridors of the apartment buildings. Its like they built the buildings in the summer and didn't think that winter would ever come or something.

 

You're right about Kunming being cheaper though. I researched online and found Chengdu and Qingdao are about the same cost rent-wise while Kunming is noticeably cheaper. That could be a factor if that's important to you.

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mungouk

@Ele which schools in Qingdao are you looking at?

 

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abcdefg
3 hours ago, XiaoXi said:

Last winter my house got down to 14 degrees! Not sure what the thinking behind not having heating in the south is to be honest, it might be alright for Shenzhen or Hainan but it's a bit of a stretch in Chengdu and probably Kunming will be similar.

 

No heating in Kunming. Winter inside the house can get chilly. 

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DavyJonesLocker

@Ele

 

just throwing it out there and making your decision more complicated!😅, but perhaps 6 months in each place? 

 

By the way is your visa situation like. Are you looking for a private language school or university ? 

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pon00050
11 hours ago, abcdefg said:

No heating in Kunming. Winter inside the house can get chilly. 

I confirm.

I wanted to go back outside because the house was very chilly inside.

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889

Yes, traditionally no central heating in the south. But surely you can find a place with one of those dual A/C units (cool in summer, heat in winter). Even cheap hotel rooms have them these days.

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Ele
13 hours ago, mungouk said:

which schools in Qingdao are you looking at?

I did not find many in Qingdao, but XMandarin looked quite nice, in a top location, so I would like to study there. If you guys have experience about it, feel free to share! Thanks! 

 

@Davi: I would like to avoid moving to another city after 6 months. I would try my best to feel at home in one city this one year :)

I will probably be on X2 Visa, and need to leave China after 180days and then re-enter. 

As far as I read the procedure shall be quite straightforward. I hope so! :)

 

Regarding heating: staying in Kunming required finding a house with heating. I was aware of the problem having spend a whole January around China a couple of years ago, and got some really cold accommodation at that time! I said to myself : never again! :D

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abcdefg
4 hours ago, Ele said:

Regarding heating: staying in Kunming required finding a house with heating. I was aware of the problem having spend a whole January around China a couple of years ago, and got some really cold accommodation at that time! I said to myself : never again!

 

You would need to search for a *very* long time to find a house with heating on a student's budget in Kunming. They are not at all common in the center of the city, where much of the housing is old. One can find them, at a price, in the new outlying areas to the north or west, miles and miles from where you will find the Mandarin training schools where you hope to study. Not a practical arrangement even with pretty good public transportation. 

 

I live in an older area quite happily, but have had to give up some modern conveniences. My apartment has solar water heating 太阳能 (no hot water when there is no sun,) a standard squat toilet 蹲厕所, single-glazed windows that don't seal out the cold very well, and of course, no built-in heating. The building has no elevator and I live on the 4th floor; climb up and down several times a day. 

 

But, like many locals, I have bought a small electric heater 电暖器 that I move from room to room as needed in the winter. Also have adopted other local remedies against the cold such as an electric foot warmer and an electric mattress pad for the bed. When I return to the US during the colder months, the dry, too-warm air from central heat in most houses, including mine, bothers me a lot.  

 

Kunming winters are usually dry. I use a humidifier 加湿器 in the bedroom at night. In Kunming one learns to wear a sweater indoors, perhaps supplemented by a fleece or down vest 马甲。Long underwear of course 保暖内衣。Keep one's fingers warm by wrapping them around a steaming screw-top mug of tea 双层茶杯。By now that is "normal life" for me and for my friends. 

 

What I think has happened here, though I cannot prove it, is that people have become accustomed to fresh air indoors even in the winter and really don't demand central heating. Doubtless it would be nice to have for a week or two each January, but it's not worth the year-round trouble and expense. 

 

I've only been to Qingdao as a tourist, so don't know about what is usual and expected in a rented apartment at the "non-luxury" end of the scale. 

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XiaoXi
2 hours ago, abcdefg said:

I live in an older area quite happily, but have had to give up some modern conveniences. My apartment has solar water heating 太阳能 (no hot water when there is no sun,) a standard squat toilet 蹲厕所, single-glazed windows that don't seal out the cold very well, and of course, no built-in heating. The building has no elevator and I live on the 4th floor; climb up and down several times a day. 

I really want to get a place with a squat toilet. If you go to China, live there and don't learn the Asian squat you've wasted your visit. Well perhaps not but still I would like to learn because it is much healthier that way. Looking at places in Kunming it seems loads have squat toilets and it seems it's generally more common in the south? I've lived in three different cities in the North, including Dongbei and not one house I even viewed in listings ever had a squat toilet.

 

Could be another point for Kunming or perhaps a point against depending on where you 'stand' on this if you'll excuse the pun (was there one?). Since looking at the places in Kunming it seemed it might be hard to actually find a place without a squat toilet. Also depends on your budget of course.

 

2 hours ago, abcdefg said:

Kunming winters are usually dry.

Oh really? I thought the south was generally much more humid than the north, everybody Chinese says that's why they have better skin in the south. The pollution level also affects dryness though.

 

2 hours ago, abcdefg said:

What I think has happened here, though I cannot prove it, is that people have become accustomed to fresh air indoors even in the winter and really don't demand central heating.

 

I don't think fresh air and central heating are mutually exclusive? Using an air conditioner for heating is actually much worse as far as fresh air is concerned.

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abcdefg
11 minutes ago, XiaoXi said:

Could be another point for Kunming or perhaps a point against depending on where you 'stand' on this if you'll excuse the pun (was there one?). Since looking at the places in Kunming it seemed it might be hard to actually find a place without a squat toilet. Also depends on your budget of course.

 

I think newer apartments probably have a choice of toilet types or at least one could expect to find a mix. My bathroom is one of those old little ones in which you must stand straddling the toilet in order to take a shower. Doesn't make you want to linger and sing arias from Puccini operas. 

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brianhelweglarsen

If you are wanting to learn a whole lot, have you read "Fluent forever"? It looks to me like the most practical turbo-charge method for actually learning both vocabulary and grammar.

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