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Remote Places to Study


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I was wondering how remote you can get and still be enrolled in a state university course with an X visa and an obligation to pay ridiculous amounts for dorms. Chinaschoolguide.com only lists universities in the provincial capitals for most of the less populated provinces - Inner Mongolia has 3, Gansu, Qinghai, Tibet and Xinjiang have 1 each. Sichuan can get pretty remote out west, and there are 4 schools listed in outside Chengdu in the province I don't think Ya'an is a particularly small place and it's not that far from Chengdu. Yibin has one, but I can't even find that on the map (wait, found it, down towards Guizhou) and it doesn't have a Wikipedia entry, so that looks promising. Mianyang was first in that quality of life survey recently so it can't be that out of the way. Nanchong is 'one of the eight biggest cities in Sichuan', which presumably means it's the eighth biggest but wanted to give the impression it might dwarf Chengdu.

Does anyone know of any particularly remote places with Chinese programs? The Chinaschoolguide.com listings aren't necessarily complete - although a fair amount of time went on tracking down schools, it was never quite finished. Anyone got any middle of nowhere experiences to share?


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I've met or heard of people studying in Yuxi, Lijiang, Dali, and some other places in Yunnan, but don't know which places have current programs. Of course Lijiang and Dali are big tourist towns. Yuxi was a pretty small town outside of Kunming. Famous for cigarettes, tobacco. When I was in Chengdu, I had a student from Yibin, Sichuan which is famous for wine or liquor. So maybe those little towns that have big industries and 老字号 are more likely to have their own Chinese programs. Or maybe specifically having an endless supply of wine and cigarettes to keep visiting officials happy helps get the paperwork going if you want to be a visa- issuing institute of higher learning.

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Have you heard of Jiamusi? It is one of the provincial towns in Heilongjiang. I hear it doesn't have a KFC or a Macdonalds yet. Remote enough for you?

I have been there - the university dorms are fantastic and really cheap. A lot of students there too, but hardly any "westerners" all Koreans, Japanese and Russians from across the border in Siberia. Also about 200 Indians, Pakistanis and Afghanistanis studying western medicine, bizarrely.

Not a lot to do there mind, but if you want remote......

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Well my website has information (I run a company helping foreign students come to northeast China to study).

Take a look at




I added Jiamusi to the list of universities I work with precisely because it is remote. Some students want to stay within the comfort zone in Beijing and others want to really "go native" - I work with Jiamusi for this this reason.

As for the accent, I work with a guy from Jiamusi. Pronunciation is standard with one caveat - he will pronounce "chun" as "cun" and sometimes "shun" as "sun". I point this out to him but it seems he just can't differentiate it!

As long as you are aware of this it is easy to understand and you shouldn't find yourself falling into the bad habit of using it.

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I spent 2 weeks in Jiamusi. People seem to be unpretentious. The city is relatively organized, though cold in the winter. I do know that there is a big prison nearby, if that bothers you. In general I found the average street venders putonghua easier to understand than many vendors in BJ.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey has anyone studied here have knowledge of the courses offered by the universities?

in ... Jiamusi Harbin Changchun Shenyang Dalian

This is because i like the idea that the BLCU have as u can choose optional modules of chinese to study e.g. chiense business language / news listening etc

do these universities offer the same?

thank you

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As far as I know they do not have many optional courses, although I know Jiamusi University holds some in the afternoons. I run a company that works with universities in all of these cities you mention, but it now occurs to me that I have not found out the details of their optional courses. I will try to find out.....

The content of the courses depends on the level of class that you participate in. At higher levels these universities all have classes that study newspaper articles, Heilongjiang University (Harbin) even had a class that studied classical Chinese at the Gaoji-3 Level last semester, although I am not sure if they are holding that this semester.

Since I am in a position to do so, I will try and find more specific details of courses at each level for you. Watch this space.....

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  • 2 weeks later...

Has anyone attended Southwest University of Science and Technology’s Chinese language program in Mianyang (about an hour north of Chengdu)? If so, I’d be interested in your impressions. I’m considering heading there for a year starting this September.


Thanks for your help!

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To answer James' question about specific course information, I have contacted the universities my company works with in Dongbei and asked for these details. Some have been cooperative enough to provide them, but will not allow me to publicize them (put them on my website or on these boards etc.). They consider their course content a secret to protect from other universities.

What I can do is provide partial information about specific courses to people that contact me directly, for instance info about what textbooks are being used at a certain level in a certain university this semester (note: there is no guarantee the same books will be used next semester - none of the universities have made a decision yet).

So to those that are interested, please feel free to PM me. If I have the particular information you are interested in I can provide it, but not more general stuff. Thanks for your understanding.

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  • 4 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Roddy- I'll be headed to Yunnan Normal in Kunming for the one-on-one tutoring program this Fall semester and then will likely head up to Sichuan and Mianyang for the Spring semester next year.

That quality of life survey also caught my eye and I'll report back my impressions of Mianyang sometime next Spring.

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  • 9 months later...

I’ve been meaning to write an update for some time on my semester here in Mianyang—but it’s been hard convincing myself to get way from the amazing barbeque long enough to write down some thoughts down…

Whenever I mention to anyone in Sichuan that I’m from Mianyang the standard reply I get is: “Wow, that’s a nice city with great sanitation.” Having lived here for several months now, I guess that’s true. It’s still very much a Chinese city, but perhaps it’s a bit cleaner than most. It’s about an hour and a half bus ride northeast of Chengdu and has a population somewhere around 500,000. No traffic jams and an easy bus system make it a pleasant enough city to get around in. Probably around fifty foreigners total right now in the city, but only six foreign students—the rest are English teachers.

The largest university in town is Southwest University of Science and Technology (SWUST), with around 20,000 students. It’s located on the northern edge of the city. One semester of Chinese language classes at SWUST is US$ 750. I currently take about fifteen hours of class each week. Classes are the usual: reading, listening, comprehensive, oral, culture, and a calligraphy class. One of the great things about classes here is that since there are only six foreign students (including me) all of our classes are quite small. The small class sizes are great for class discussion but not like private tutoring where you might be overwhelmed with prep work prior to each session. Right now there are two beginner students and four intermediate-advanced students. I haven’t had any problems with the administration and they’ve promptly answered my emails and have been pretty helpful overall.

All of us foreign students live off campus and commute by bus (1RMB 15min ride) every day to class. We all live in the same apartment community and happened to all find apartments here because of its convenience and decent offerings. I have a three-bedroom, 1 living room, 2 bath (1 western), balcony on a high floor of an elevator building, with basic furniture for 650 RMB/month. Some of the other students have well furnished places for about 750RMB/month.

The food here is great. Lots of family style places and hot pot joints. Tons of cheap and good restaurants by campus for lunch. There are a few gyms in the downtown area, quality varies. My current gym is around 1000RMB for a 1 year membership. It’s an 1.5-2hr bus ride to Chengdu, a one way ticket is around 45RMB.

If you’ve got a hankering for western food, we’ve got a Grandma’s Kitchen restaurant as well as SPR coffee. A Walmart just opened up a few weeks ago and stocks a very basic selection of pasta , cookies and some other snacks. That’s about it for western food, but Chengdu is close enough for cheese and ice cream runs. Oh, there is one downtown pub owned and run by a British fellow with a decent selection of imported liquor.

The other foreign students don’t seem to have this happen to them as much as I do, but since there are so few foreigners in Mianyang, I always seem to get approached and asked to be a free English tutor. –So if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing (and gratuitous staring) this may not be the place for you.

Mianyang is a great city and I wish I could stay here for longer than just a semester. If you’re looking for a China experience away from a lot of other foreigners in a more relaxed city, this might just be the place.

English website is: http://www.english.swust.edu.cn/index.asp

Chinese website is: http://www.swust.edu.cn/

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In an effort to help my 同学,李勤 (aka ninjabyrd) I am going to provide a bit more exact information.

The city has a population of of 1.2 million with 600,000 (approx.) city center. They combined a few small cities to pass the 1 million city mark and get all the privileges.

He doesn't take about 15 hours of class he takes 18 hours (exactly).

About the food, one thing he didn't mention which I really thought he would as it his favorite part...is the 烧烤.

There is actually only one western (real) western restaurant. And that is Grandmas...SPR sucks and is a crappy Chinese coffee shop. We also have a "Italian" and a "Pizza" place (notice the quotes but the pizza is pretty good).

And what ninjabyrd says about his "stalkers" is very true. But ummm...never happened to me. I only get good people.

Hope this help.


Sorry man didn't see the BBQ remark!

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good luck out there! Unless my career takes a sudden change for the amazing, my plan is to head to somewhere small (relatively) and remote for 10 months to a year to relax and study Chinese. Chalk mianyang up as another one to add to the list.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I figure it must just be my personal outlook on things, but my idea of remote is much different. I live about 30 minutes away from Cleveland (Ohio), in a town of approximately 35,000 people. I have to smile and shake my head when I hear that a university campus of 25,000 in a city of 1.2 million is considered remote.

When I saw this thread I was really hoping for some remote locations; campus sizes of a couple thousand students, in an area where livestock outnumber the residents (ok, that's a bit facetious, but you get the idea).

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Hey guys,

I remember seing a travelogue on TV about a school in or around Guilin, and Yangshuo in Guanxi province. It seemed like a great place to have a school right near beautiful scenery that you could go biking or floating down the river?

Has anyone heard of this training school?

Also I have heard of a program in Urumuqi University. (I was interested because I thought I might learn Arabic at the same time.) I think like the Harbin place it probably has more non-western foreigners than not.

Anyway, Anyone hear of the Guilin U?

have fun,


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I am English and I am in Jiamusi now just finishing the semester but don't worry i'm leaving now and I'm the only one and as far as I know the only one there has ever been hehe!! My class was one russian, me and the rest Koreans. There is one advanced canadian in a higher class but it's an oddity too as he actually lives in this city, ie has been here 3 years and hsa a girlfriend here etc. He was a teacher and there are a few western teachers here but they don't tend to stay long, just a year each and there is literally a handful.

I did it through HYCC company mentioned above and I really recommend it. Everything went smoothly which was unexpected as I didn't come and visit first as it's fairly remote.

From my experience here I can answer James question on afternoon courses. They are all free and you can do one everyday meaning you can get 30 hours for the price of 20 if you really want. From the one's I checked out, there was Chinese culture, Chinese history, business chinese and a couple of HSK preparation classes. I know these actually vary and there were also more but i didn't go.

There is actually a KFC here but no Macdonalds. I think it feels like a pretty big place actually with quite alot to do. After you do all the touristy things in the bigger cities I think your life would be much like here and I lived in wudaokou (Beijing) for a semester too. There are gyms, swimming pools, ice rink, cinemas lots of karaoke, restaurants, bars etc. Big influence on korean bars and dog meat for some reason. There are lots of indians here so we do have a new indian canteen which is great. It's in the new dorms which are also great. There's no walmart and the big supermarket with the imported section is very limited. There are some western restaurants in town. The pizza is terrible and the pasta even worse and the steaks well... Always wish I'd stuck to jiaozi. But only four hours from Harbin on a bus.

The problems of being the only native english speaker that's not already working for the uni earning a bomb is the same as mentioned by ninjabyrd about Mianyang. I have had a bit of a nightmare, especially with the uni staff and a big falling out over helping them with stuff for free but it was all my fault. I was trying to keep peace and be nice and they took advantage. But I would come back and just say no to everything and unplug my room phone and not give anyone my mobile number then you could live here very happily.

Huge amounts of the Russians don't speak English and alot of the ones that do still speak to me in Chinese as they are intimidated as I'm the first native english speaker they've ever spoken to. They are not like alot of the Chinese that take that as an opportunity to practice. The Koreans pretty much the same. None of them have ever tried to speak English with me. The Chinese students learning English here are not as desperate as they should be (given they are going to graduate in English and still never will have spoken to a native English speaker) to meet me which was a bit disappointing and the ones that do want to meet me have better English than my Chinese which is also a bit dissappointing but again you can work with that.

My Chinese isn't good but I think the accent is ok. I have plenty of friends from this city and around that I met on buses and in shops etc and I can understand them.

With regards to learning in a beautiful place. This place is not hehe!! There's nice parks and a nice river in the middle but lots of dust and mud and rubbish like alot of Chinese cities.

Anyways, that's my tuppence worth.

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