When you finally decide to go study Chinese in China, there are few things you need to consider. With an area of about 9,600,000 km2, there are of course a great variety of cities and opportunities you can pursue.
If you are confused about which city suits you best, then this article might help you put your mind at ease.
Let’s move ahead stage by stage. I’ll help you with simple but important decisions to define what you like and what you don’t by adjusting your preferences to these “small” options, and together we’ll find you the best place to study in China.
Ready? Let’s start!
North or South?
People usually separate northern and southern China with the Yangtze River.
While the Northeast is known for its cold winters and hot and dry summers, the northern-central region has cool winters and temperate rainy summers.
If you like warmer temperatures, and if stormy monsoons are not a big deal for you then South and Central East coastal China might be right up your alley.
Rainfall is concentrated from late spring through summer, leaving autumn and winter relatively dry and settled. Winter is shorter, cool, and often overcast with drizzle. In winter lows are around 10°C, while during summer temperatures over 30°C are the norm.
According to the “rice theory” by Thomas Talhelm, people in the wheat-growing north are more independent and straightforward, while people in the rice-growing south are more interdependent and sociable.
Big or Small City?
If you ask someone to name two Chinese cities, of course he will say “Beijing and Shanghai”. These two cities are in fact the favorite destinations for international students.
Both can be the perfect location for an introduction to life in China because they combine a respect for tradition with a passion for modernity and offer all the comforts and conveniences you’ve grown accustomed to.
If you don’t fear the culture shock and if all you are expecting for your experience in China is a full immersion in the Chinese culture, language and lifestyle, then you should apply for a study program in a smaller city.
Or do you want to prove yourself you can learn Chinese without any other foreigner around?
Pick a small city such as Chengde, and enjoy the privilege of having locals tickled to death to help you practice your mandarin with them!
Cheap or …?
The cost of living in China is a complex topic.
China is a developing country so the living standard for the majority of the population is quite low.
However once there, foreigners can afford a lifestyle they are unlikely to be enjoying at home. Living cost in metropolitan areas like Beijing or Shanghai is obviously higher than in smaller cities especially due to the increasing rental pricing for housing.
According to the Worldwide Cost of Living 2016 Survey by EIU, Shanghai is the 11th most expensive city in the world to live in (the first in the mainland) while Beijing is the 31st one.
However, living in China can be very cheap, especially if you enjoy a Chinese lifestyle and if you love Chinese food!
On the other hand, living for example in Hong Kong can be very pricey as it is the third most expensive city in the world! Choose wisely!
University or Private School?
With the growing global status in tourism, trade and education, China is seeing huge increase in popularity.
China hosted about 330,000 students in 2012, and set a target to reach 500,000 students by 2020 either for degree or non-degree programs.
Beijing and Shanghai are considered to have the best universities and private schools in the mainland. Generally speaking, the application fee in Chinese universities is lower than the ones in the USA, EU and UK, but of course the higher the ranking of a university, the more expensive the application fee will be.
Private schools in China are usually more expensive than universities. You should consider how much you want to pay, and then decide when to start classes, for how long, and with how many people.
I hope this small guide helped you to clear your mind and find you the best place to study in China. Let me know in the comments below if you have any further questions.
Good luck with your decision and enjoy the stay.
This blog post was brought to you by LTL Mandarin School (www.livethelanguage.cn)