Tips for Study Abroad in China

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Tips for Study Abroad in China

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Born and raised in China, I thought writing travel tips for OWN students to study abroad in China would be a piece of cake. And… it turned out that I could not be more wrong. China is way too complicated and diversified to be summarized in bullet points but I tried anyway, so here we go:
  1. It’s a good idea to carry some cash with you, as many stores don’t accept credit cards.
  2. Be travel smart and always keep a close eye on your personal belongings. Pickpockets can be found in crowded public areas, but you can protect yourself by keeping your cell phone and wallet in your purse zipped up and worn across the front of your chest.
  3. Have your phone unlocked before you go to China. Google and Facebook are blocked in China. Try using Baidu Maps, Apple Maps or Bing. Wi-Fi is not as prevalent in China as it can be in the USA. Fortunately, sim cards with data plans are fairly cheap.
  4. To stay healthy, only drink boiled water or bottled water. Carry an extra bottle of water with you on outings, as there are very few fountains in public spaces.
  5. Only ride in official, marked taxis. There is a large, illegal black market for taxis and getting into an unmarked cab can mean higher rates and longer rides.
  6. Compared with Americans, people in China treat the rules of the road very differently. To most people, signs and traffic lights are merely suggestions instead of obligations, and usually drivers would not stop for pedestrians. For your own safety, be cautious. (Seriously, when I went back to China in the summer of 2013 after staying in Seattle for nine months, I had reverse culture shock and waited on the curb for five minutes wondering how to dodge those bicycles before I managed to walk across the street.)
  7. If you go to big cities in China, smog can be bad. If you are sensitive to air pollution, bring some respiratory medicine with you.
  8. The subway is a great way to get around in the cities. HOWEVER, stay away from the subway during rush hour, unless you want to get caught up in, as we say in Chinese, people mountain people sea—人山人海.
  9. Chinese people are generally very nice to tourists—so say Nihao and ask for help. Nothing can give you more insights into Chinese culture and Chinese people than interacting with real natives.
  10. Chinese food is amazing! Once an old American gentleman told me that if he can only choose food of one nationality, he would choose Chinese food in a heartbeat. Forget about American Chinese food, like sweet and sour chicken and chou mein—China has so much more to offer. (By the way, if you haven’t watched the documentary A Bite of China on YouTube, you should, and then you will regret watching it.)
  11. Last and definitely not the least, get ready for squat toilets and always, always, carry some toilet paper or tissues or napkins with you, you know what I mean.
Go to China with an open mind, a sense of humor, and a good appetite, and you will learn about China, people, and yourself. Be multilingual and be multicultural! By Aloe Yan, OneWorld Now! Chinese Language Assistant About Aloe: Aloe Yan is OneWord Now! Chinese Teaching Assistant and Administrative Intern. She is a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese and came to Seattle in 2012 to pursue a Master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at the University of Washington. Aloe is now a English Writing Tutor at North Seattle College. Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter —  

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