For anyone who has ever studied Mandarin Chinese and is interested in studying abroad in China, Beijing is the place to go. After studying abroad for even just one semester, it’s easy to find hundreds of reasons to fall in love with this amazing city.
The IES program in Beijing gave me a great environment, helpful tools, and great support during my semester. The program’s location on the campus of Beijing Foreign Studies University is ideal. It isn't too far from many of the major sites of the city, including Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, Beihai Park, and other amazing areas. Transportation in Beijing is fairly easy- you can hop on the subway and reach an amazing site halfway across the city fairly quickly- just be careful to avoid rush hour! The campus itself is in the university district, and the area is full of a variety of restaurants, stores, bars, fruit stands, and other stops. If nothing in the immediate area is what you're looking for, there are thousands of options just a quick subway stop away! The program's academics helped me immensely with my goal of improving my language skills. The classes are small, which made it easier for me to get to know the professors and my classmates. The language classes are taught in Chinese and the area studies classes are taught in English. For students at or above a certain language level, there's also the option of taking other Chinese-taught electives. One of the requirements of the program is a language pledge. The pledge may sound intimidating, but it really did help me improve my listening and speaking skills, even more so than in classes back at home. The living situation was also helpful for improving my Chinese and my overall experience abroad. You can either choose to live with a host family or in a dorm with a Chinese roommate. I had an awesome roommate who taught me about her culture and was curious about American culture. The opportunity to get to know my roommate and talk about our cultures was an amazing opportunity for me, and definitely added to my experience abroad.
If you are considering studying abroad in China at all, my advice is to take the leap and go for it! Studying abroad in Beijing was the best decision I have ever made, and I would enroll in the IES program again in a heartbeat.