Okay, we lied. There aren't actually 88 resources listed here - we just know how lucky and auspicious this number is in Chinese culture! Though you can't blame us for wanting good fortune, we instead compiled 35 useful resources for students considering studying abroad in China.
China remains the only study abroad destination in the top 5 most popular that is not located in Europe - congratulations, you are contributing to a rising number of students looking for more unique opportunities abroad. You're at the forefront of a movement to better understand China's longstanding history and vibrant future.
Whether you prefer to study in popular Beijing or Shanghai, or instead pursue an opportunity in an inland city (Chengdu, Kunming, or dare-we-say, Tibet?!), it's our hope these websites will make your upcoming adventure all the more enjoyable.
Grab your chopsticks, turn on Mulan, and sift through our suggested online resources for studying in China.
From getting the proper Chinese visa to organizing your accommodation upon arrival, you will soon find that navigating Chinese bureaucracies is no easy feat. We recommend using these resources to maintain your sanity.
- China Embassy US, China Embassy UK, China Embassy Canada - Your go-to resource for any visa inquiries. It should be noted that students pursuing study programs that are less than 6 months long should apply for the F visa instead of the X.
- Gov.cn - This is the Chinese government's official website, presented in English, and provides a great deal of information on the country.
- Numbeo - Is Shanghai really more expensive than Beijing? Consult the Numbeo website for more details on the cost of living in different cities across China.
- Snap Housing - If the idea of finding your own apartment in Beijing or Shanghai sounds like a nightmare, let this website do the work for you. Check them out for hiring Mandarin tutors or weekend activities too!
Tools for Learning/Using your Chinese
Though not exactly necessary, it will help you in the long run to have a handle on Mandarin prior to studying abroad in China. You're in luck, as there are plenty of online dictionary and learning tools available to help you perfect your zhong wen. You may even find these websites to be useful for homework help!
- NCIKU - Better known as the Chinese bible. This website lets you look up characters through pinyin, drawing with your mouse, or typing in the actual characters (definitely more efficient than using radicals alone).
- You Dao - This Chinese dictionary has more options for search terms than many other online language resources, including slang words. If you can't find it elsewhere, you're bound to come across it here.
- POPjisyo - Quickly translate webpages in Chinese to English with this online tool.
- E-Chinese Learning - This website offers students many Mandarin lessons, and gives users a platform for connecting with locals on Skype (great for perfecting your conversational skills!)
- Mandarin Tools - If a large document of Chinese characters without pinyin frightens you, download this tool!
Tips for Living in China
At the end of a China day, you may come to feel a bit bonkers. The food's different, the people are different, the language is different. There's no harm in being frustrated by your situation, but we encourage you to rise above it. Embrace the challenges and learn from them!
- Escape Artist - A quick list of unwritten rules for surviving life in China - read for a quick laugh and remember you're not alone!
- Lost Laowai - The expat section of this website is especially useful, as you can offer advice, rant, and learn the behavior of both "good" and "bad" laowai.
- Cultural China - This website attempts to explain in lamemen's terms China's 5000+ year history.
- The Beijing Reviewer - Practical advice from a long-term ESL teacher's perspective. If you're considering working while studying, check this out!
- @tbjTeachEnglish - Follow this Twitter account for real-time job opportunities for English teachers in Beijing.
Things to do in China
As a student in China, you'll inevitably have some free time in need of filling. Whether you prefer to take in more cultural activities, taste local cuisines, or check out the local nightlife, these websites will point you in the right direction for upcoming events and activities.
- City Weekend - No matter what Chinese city you are studying in, City Weekend is your go-to resource for what's happening nearby.
- The Beijinger - This website is always the first to know what's happening in and around the capital city.
- Shanghaiist - For students in Shanghai, check out this website to make your weekend plans.
- Heyrobics - If you're packing on the pounds from too many helpings of dumplings, check out this fun and colorful exercise club in Beijing.
- Shanghai Highlights - A great resource for finding day/weekend trips outside the city - including nearby Hangzhou and Nanjing.
News and Media Outlets
Since your typical mainstays of Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube are not readily available, you may have to start looking elsewhere to get your local news. For those who are able to download a VPN to access all websites (we recommend Surf Rescue), you may find stark contrasts in news stories...
- China Daily - The only English language national newspaper in China.
- SINA - Read both local and international news stories from this news portal.
- CNN Go - The Asia chapter of CNN news - fun and interesting articles on China and surrounding regions.
Locals' Favorite Websites
It's no secret that Chinese people loooove the internet, especially the university crowds. If you want a jump start on making Chinese friends, familiarize yourself with the following platforms - they'll love you for it!
- Weibo - The "Chinese Twitter," this website may provide more interesting insights into Chinese culture than any other. Another plus - no character limits!
- Renren - China's response to Facebook, this social network has more than 31 million users, mostly young professionals and students.
- QQ - I dare you to mention QQ to a Chinese person and not see them break out in a smile. Pick an avatar, chat with new friends, and keep in touch with old ones!
Snag better deals
Naturally, many websites are created to offer services to Chinese nationals and are written entirely in Mandarin. If you're language savvy, you'll learn how to navigate these websites to take advantage of the cheaper prices, which somehow don't get translated onto their English-counterparts.
- Tao Bao - Just about any product is at your fingertips with this online marketplace! Have a Chinese friend help you complete your order.
- QuNar - Booking flights in or around China? Utilize this website instead of your typical Kayak, Air Asia, etc (your pocketbook will thank you!)
- YouKu - Instead of buying your favorite tv shows and movies on iTunes, stream them from this free website - just be sure to double check the Chinese name first!
Apps for your Smart Phone
As smart phones become more and more the norm, it's very likely students in China will tote their gadgets abroad with them. Instead of deterring from your studies, load your phone with a few apps that will complement your learning experience (and maybe make it more fun!).
- QingWen Chinese Dictionary - This handy app allows you to create word lists where you can bookmark vocabulary into categories.
- Chinese Pod - This app allows you to access an online library of Chinese language lessons and is especially helpful for improving your reading skills.
- Pleco - The highlight of this app is its extensive tools for creating, customizing, and saving flashcards - perfect for when you get stuck on a long commute!
Just for fun - Chinese Culture
The Chinese culture is widespread and fascinating. Sometimes, though, there are some things that are just plain fun to know more about. Here are some of the quirkier elements of China's history that students should understand!
- Chinese Superstitions - Read up on the most prevalent superstitions in Chinese society today (hint: don't give a clock or a watch as a gift!)
- Chinese Zodiac - Are you a rabbit, horse, or tiger? Find out the origins of these astrological signs and see if this is a lucky year for you!
- Traditional Chinese Festivals - Learn how to celebrate all of China's favorite holidays - some traditions may surprise you!
- Marketing to China - Want to be a pro at Chinese business etiquette and practices? Tips and tricks for ways to up your guanxi and impress your coworkers.
* Find the top rated study abroad programs in China.
* Where should you study abroad in China: Beijing or Shanghai?
* Wanting to rev up your study in China experience? Consider adding an internship while you're there!