Everything You Need to Know Before Studying in China

If it was very clear in your mind that you wanted to study somewhere non-Western, to discover a culture that was different from the ones you’ve lived in your whole life, a study abroad China experience most likely popped up on your radar.

Studying in China FAQs

You might have so many questions about a study abroad in China experience that you don’t even know where to start. So here’s a list of nine of the most frequently asked questions about studying in China and some studying abroad in China tips to help you get the ball rolling.
Q1 Where are the most popular places to study in China?
Following a massive urbanization movement, China currently boasts 20 cities with over three million inhabitants, including seven cities with over 10 million people. Specialized study abroad programs sometimes offer locations outside of the big cities in smaller towns or rural areas, but Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong remain the most popular study-abroad destinations. Other popular study-abroad locations in China include Chengdu, Tianjin, and Kunming. China is a huge country, that governs over 22 provinces and five autonomous regions, many with their own distinct culture, dialect, and ways of life. Anywhere you go will offer something unique and different —so research carefully, choose wisely, and travel a lot while you study abroad in China!
 Q2 How much does it cost?
China is very affordable, even on a student budget. Although China boasts the world’s second-largest economy, it is still very much a developing nation, and so the cost of living is quite cheap compared to most Western countries. Meals will generally only run you a few dollars and many prices are up to negotiation. Prices are lower in rural areas than in the cities.
 There are many scholarships made available for study in China, from Western and Chinese institutions alike.
Q3 Do I need a student visa?
For students, X visas are required to study in China. Those students who want to study for over six months need an X1 visa but for less than 6 months of study, students need an X2 visa. Even though China is a somewhat closed country, obtaining a visa to study abroad is a fairly simple process for students studying abroad in China, which most programs will help guide you through. Just be sure to allow yourself plenty of time.
Q4 What are the pros and cons of studying abroad in China in summer vs. other times of the year?
If your four-year college plan cannot endure a full semester abroad in China, then a summer China program is the perfect time for you to fulfill some degree requirements. Study abroad in China summer programs require only a limited time commitment.
Pros: A shorter program means a lower cost, so study abroad China summer programs can be more financially affordable for students on a tight budget. Fun excursions are almost always included in summer study abroad programs in China, and if they aren’t, you can always travel before or after! Studying abroad in China in the summer means you will earn academic credits during a shorter period than taking a class during the regular semesters: Chinese summers can be exceptionally hot and muggy in the big cities, so plan accordingly! While you might be left wondering why they still drink boiling-hot tea during the summer months, the list of super-fun activities for your summer in China exceeds the number of Chinese characters that exist.
Q5 What are popular classes for students studying abroad in China?
Common academic areas of study in China include math, economics, engineering, political science, urban development, MBBS, and, of course, Mandarin. Programs available in major Chinese cities usually combine academic study with a variety of intensive language lessons and culturally immersive opportunities. If you’re worried about being taught in the local language, fear not! There are plenty of ways that you can study in China in English, even though we generally recommend taking some basic, entry-level language classes to help with everyday communication.
Q6 Do I need to speak Mandarin to study in China?
The language barrier can be a very real obstacle to breaching China’s increasingly prominent national university system. While world-class institutions like Tsinghua University, Peking University, and Fudan University are the crown jewels in the eye of every Chinese national student, most classes are generally taught in Mandarin, which makes enrollment a challenge for international students not studying Chinese. But some of them are also taught in English. However many of these schools do reach out with international programs to attract foreign students, and some subject areas are often taught in English.
Q7 Any ideas for my study in China bucket list?
We thought you’d never ask! Eat dumplings! Lots of them, with lots of different fillings. Bonus points if you can find purple, green, or orange ones. Visit the Great Wall. It’s stellar. Pro tip: Wear good walking shoes because it’s quite the climb. Time your visit with the sunset for especially spectacular photos. Befriend a peng you. There are over a billion Chinese citizens—you can surely find a couple to be your friend, right? These relationships are perfect for complementing your learning
and never having to drink milk tea alone.

Drink lots and lots of green tea. The more bitter, the better. Trust us. You’ll get there.

Gnaw on chicken feet. It’s wacky and weird and anything but tasty, but it is fun nonetheless and makes for great photos.

These claws are made for walking (and as a toothpick substitute?).

Try speaking Mandarin for a whole day. You’ll be surprised how much you absorb by intent listening, not to mention

how quick others are to help you stumble through a complicated sentence. Damn tones!

Cycle from Yangshuo to Guilin. The Karst Mountains are stunning AND you’ll get a quick workout in. More room for

“Crossing the Bridge Noodles,” a Yunnan specialty.

FUTURES Studying in China could be a dream come true!
Have the time of your life, learn, travel, explore, and meet new people. That’s everything you need to know about studying in China. As always, remember to read the China study abroad reviews for each program. Choosing to study in China may just be the best decision you ever make. Did we mention you would also be gaining professional experience, cultural knowledge, and unique and wonderful memories? Take the plunge and study abroad in China!