China – Top 5 Study Abroad Destination
Today, I found an interesting article that said China has become the 5th most popular study abroad destination for US college kids. For most of us, including me, this is a surprising development. Yes, we heard it all: China – the raising power in the east that eventually will take America’s spot as the most powerful economy in the world. It seems, College students have listened to these stories too and have taken action to become ready for a world under Chinese influence. Even though the Chinese economy was hit hard by the recent economic crisis, more and more business majors, law students and engineers go to China to experience the culture, make connections for a lifetime and learn the Chinese way of doing business.
However, there are more reasons why China is becoming a top destination for foreign students. First, I believe that students become more daring and adventurous with their study abroad choices. While England, France, Italy and Australia are still the top destinations for study abroad programs, more and more students want to see and experience something completely different to their own Western culture. If you stay for a couple of months in China, you will see and experience some things and situations that you can only experience there, whether these experiences might be wonderful or shocking they will always be remembered. Also, the culture of the Chinese people is very different and it certainly take a lot of adaptability to understand and function in this environment.
Another reason is of course the costs of the study abroad programs in China. While flights to Europe and China are about the same, the costs of living at a student level is much lower in China. You can find an apartment in the middle of Beijing’s student district for $ 250-300 and if you are daring enough to try the little “hole in the wall restaurants” and street food stands, you can eat out every meal and spend less than $ 10/day. In todays economy, where parents (still the main source of funding of study abroad activities) might have to cut back on funding even their childrens education, China is a cheap alternative to other study abroad destinations. Also, as the Chinese currency Yuan is linked to the US Dollar and does not fluctuate as much, it is especially for US kids and their parents easier to calculate a budget for the study abroad time than for example a study abroad program in Europe.
But there are not only great study abroad options in China, but also great internship opportunities in China. I did an internship in China myself and it is much easier to organize than an internship in Europe. Most Chinese companies feel proud, if a foreigner with a good command of the English language asks to work for them. However, I would recommend to study at least the basics of the language first, especially if your host company consists of mainly Chinese people and you also want to learn something about your future profession. The more you know the language, the easier it will be to become integrated, make friends and actually do some meaningful work at the company.
Want to more about finding an internship in China? Read my blog post on How to find an internship in China!
P.S. If you want to know more about my experience in China, come back soon. I will start publishing a series of blog posts on my experience in China, including a Chinese Wedding, sharing a room with my Chinese colleague during a business trip and how I was kicked out of the country. Starting soon….
If you are interested in other off the beaten path study abroad options, check out these 10 alternative study abroad destinations!