I am Clara and I have been studying on The University of Nottingham Ningbo in China. I will be honest and tell you both advantages and disadvantages.
Pros of studying in China:
- Cultural experience: As a foreigner, China is one of the best places to visit. The country is enormous and has many different provinces which have their own architecture, language and even weather. From Shanghai to Harbin, each area has something interesting and unique. Plus, travelling inside China is very simple in both trains and planes. The railway structure is one of the best ones in the world and it can take you from south to east in a couple of hours. And, even though chinese citizens don’t speak much english, they are very welcoming. You will get help if you are lost and receive good attention on public spaces. I encourage you to learn chinese during your stay, you will be able to practice it and get by easily. However, you should carry a translator on your phone because trust me, you’ll need it.
- Lifestyle: When I arrived in China, I did not have a clear idea of the chinese everyday life. At least for students, chinese lifestyle has many advantages. First of all, the university ID helps students get in museums and other places cheaper than the average price or even free. You can go to many cultural activities and pay very little. Second, university students are very fashionable and love to go out for shopping and eating. There is a big culture of sharing. In restaurants, groups of students will get many plates and everyone is invited to try everything. This is great because you save money and try several flavours. For older students, nightlife is vibrant and crowded. Bars and pubs get filled with students and many students are open to chat to foreigners and grab a beer with them. Pubs usually offer free entrance to international university students.
- Tea, snacks and Taobao: I think tea was one of my favourite things of China. There were many chains and each one had its own flavours. I loved yidiandian, their bubble tea was just heavenly. I also enjoyed trying snacks. In China people is a very big fan of sweet potatoes and red bean, so a lot of sweet snacks are made out of them. I am not a huge fan but you have to try it, many internationals fell in love with the taste. And last but not least, Taobao. This website is the crown of the capitalism. It has absolutely anything that you might need, from clothes to animals. If something exists, you can but it in Taobao. And the best thing is that items are really cheap and get shipped in two or three days
Cons of studying in China
- Language barrier: Even though you can use a translator to communicate, sometimes is very difficult to deal with important issues. Very specific things like visa documents, doctors, bank accounts… are hard to manage on just an online translator. The first days you can feel overwhelmed as its very frustrating when you can’t make yourself understood.
- Internet: China has a ban on many western websites. Whatsapp, Instagram, Twitter… they are all banned. This can easily be resolved with a VPN, an app that can hide your IP or place it in another country. But unfortunately, this type of apps don’t work perfectly so there might be days or even weeks that you won’t be able to communicate through them. China also has very strict laws over pornography so its best to not look at any website related to them
- Drugs and public vigilance: Smoking and Drinking is allowed in China. But other drugs like weed are completely banned. In Spain, weed is very popular but also ilegal. The worst thing that can happen to you if they catch you smoking is paying a little fine. In China this is more serious. They also do random tests on pubs to make sure nobody is breaking the laws. There are cameras everywhere so nobody can do anything suspicious. This can be a pro and a con, because you are very protected and for example, in my case, I always felt safe coming back at night to Uni. But being watched all the time can also be a disadvantage.
Opinions of the writer in this blog don’t represent those of WentChina.