Making the Best of Beijing CET

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The Beijing CET program is not only a language program, but by default a cultural program as well. Why? Because all teachers are Chinese, and most of them have never taught abroad. Being taught Mandarin Chinese by a fully native faculty is very insightful and useful in getting insider perspectives on topics discussed in class ranging from politics to the arts, to environmental protection. Many of the opinions you hear will challenge your own, and this is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of being in China; to hear these contrasting opinions and to try to understand why they exist, rather than simply listening and then immediately providing your own opinion before reaching that understanding. Suggestions for having a great time in China:
1. Travel alone as often as possible, interact with Chinese people. You will make countless friends, business connections, collaborators(for artists), and people that can make your life much more rich and informed.
2. On a similar note, do not spend most of your time with your classmates, it will not be worth it, no matter how fun it seems. If you wanted easy camaraderie based on a mutual home-country/culture, why did you come to China?
3. Indulge Chinese people while you are here: forget about your own practices, your pet peeves, your habits, learn all of these anew from the Chinese people around you and you will gain an entirely new understanding of East-Asian thought-process and life. If you do not, you will find yourself at odds with Chinese people at every turn, and will end up living in a foreign cultural sphere within China.
To Sum it Up: This program was wonderful, but it won't be that way on its own.
Beijing CET is a platform, so use it to go far and delve deep into China, in my opinion, the best place in the world for a lone traveler!

How can this program be improved?
It's an extremely difficult task, but I believe separation from fellow foreign classmates needs to be more encouraged, or rather, interaction with Chinese people and/or Chinese roommates more effectively yet gracefully promoted. The negative effects of foreigner/classmate group weekly hangouts are far too serious in my opinion. In these group settings, such as going out together on weekends, many people start speaking English because they do not understand or are unhappy with their ability to express themselves, whereas when with only Chinese people, this problem would not be had. Additionally, these settings inhibit them from learning anything about Chinese way of life, instead they live as they would at home, but in China. If I come up with any worthwhile ideas regarding how to push Chinese-foreign interactions along better in the future, I will contact CET with the suggestion. Thanks.
Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
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