Jump to content
  • Sign Up

Living in Harbin


Recommended Posts

Short and sweet (I hope)...

I'm 23, male, American, BA, TEFL. I've been working in Prague teaching English for the last year and looking to learn Chinese. A friend who lived in China for 2 years recommended Harbin as "the best" place to learn Chinese.

I've been haunting a lot of posts and it seems that Harbin is a good recommendation. However, a few things I'm contemplating...


friends / social life / amount of foreigners I can "rant / bitch" (underline / italicize / bold) with!?

culture. how have you been accepted / treated as an extreme foreigner / western (you're not the run of the mill tourist... you live there)

determination versus sacrifice (could i get just as good of an experience, while learning Mandarin as quickly / efficiently, somewhere else?) versus paying off student loans / credit card debt?

bad, but good, question....... women? What do Harbin women think of Americans? human instincts / hormones (especially at my age) are something to take into consideration.

I've read a bunch and have a good idea about language learning, night life, a severe lack of westerners to bond with, etc., but am certainly willing to make a good deal of sacrifice in order to achieve my goals.

Having lived in Prague for the past year I am accustomed to a degree of alienation, negative attitude toward foreigners (especially Americans), heavily polluted weather (I haven't seen a blue sky in MONTHS), and cold weather (our winter started in October and STILL hasn't let up yet).

Sorry for being so long-winded, but I appreciate any info / insights you would care to share.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

short, not sweet, answer

just for the lack of westerners to rant with.

i never had any problems with that. there are not as few foreigners in harbin as one may think. and it adds that there are not too many locations you would meet those people.

blues.....fighting for forst place in the worst club award with pacers/QS and thats already about it for western foreigners. sure, there are some bars where you can meet the laowai.

whenever i went out to blues there was always a bunch of some 20-30 westerners i knew by name. so the lack of westerners is not a big deal i would say. thing that may suck for many people is more likely the lack of places you can go to meet those people. there is no shanghai-like nightlife in harbin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Indeed. Nightlife scene in Harbin is predictable and limited.

If on the other hand you want to study, then that could be construed as a positive.

There are a bunch of Russian students here. Not so many westerners but that is changing gradually. Attitude to Americans is pretty friendly from what I can see. You will get the 霸道 (hegemony) comment all the time but it is said almost with an air of resignation and rarely with a personal edge.

Best thing for me about studying here was being in classes with all Korean, Japanese and Russian students. You have to speak Chinese full stop. And then when you are outside the classroom you have to speak Chinese all the time too. No sloping off to Sculpting in Time, Lush or propaganda for English menus and stuff. We are hardcore in Harbin :mrgreen:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also agree that the lack of nightlife in Harbin can be really good for studying. It is also true that in general the spoken language between international students is indeed Chinese, something that you will just not find in Beijing. I think Harbin is one of the better places to study in China, but for your winter break make sure you get out of Harbin and go somewhere warm, the winter is very long, and can be depressing if you can't deal with not seeing green trees for over 6 months. Also, Harbin is very, very, very, cheap, especially compared to Beijing and Shanghai. In harbin you can live comforatbly, (exlcuding your tuition and housing) at around 20 kuai a day, and thats kind of pushing it. In general the International students that live and study here seem to be fairly happy and complacent about studying in Harbin, and most of decent Chinese, even the english teachers here in Harbin can speak decent Chinese!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...