Overall, this program was exceptional.
A few highlights:
1) The CET staff, from the resident director to the teachers, were fantastic and second to none. They truly cared about each student and made every attempt to be accommodating of all of our individual needs. Due to small class sizes (2-9 people per class), there were plenty of opportunities to participate, ask questions, and connect with professors one on one. Professors and teachers are patient and very qualified, bringing valuable experiences to the classroom.
2) The historical weekend trip, day trips to cultural sites, and class field trips for the most part were valuable, well organized, and fun. On all of the trips, the CET staff did a great job organizing the excursions and I learned a lot from each of them (they also planned a lot of them, which was great!)
3) My internship placement was awesome! I learned a lot about working in China and I got to meet a lot of new people that I wouldn't have gotten to meet if I had only taken classes. This made this specific program unique to others and was why I picked this program!
4) My roommate and housing situation was also great. Initially before coming to China I was worried about living with a local Chinese student (I feared our cultures would be too contrasting and language would be an issue). However, CET does a great job of picking the best roommates and making the most suitable pairings. My roommate was always there for me and was my greatest resource and friend in China. He really showed me a local perspective to China, while helping me out throughout the way. Also, the rooms are very nice and spacious which is a plus (better than my home university dorms).
5) While many may be concerned by the small program size (my term only had 13 students), I felt it was a great asset. Not only were class sizes small, but I got to connect with all 12 of my classmates and I feel like we became a little family in China as we always had each other’s backs. I think this community would not have developed if the program was a lot larger.
6) My Chinese improved a lot!
1) The program is exhausting. There are some days where your schedule is packed from 8:30am-9:30pm (plus homework after). This should be understandable and expected as there are 10 credits (3 classes) and 10-12 hours of internship per week. I enjoyed this because I felt like I had a productive summer and learned a lot. However, students should be aware that this program is no joke. Be prepared to have late nights, academic stress, and lots of work (daily Chinese homework and quizzes, term papers, readings, etc.). Sometimes I wished that we had more free time to explore Beijing and China, but this just motivated me to take full advantage of weekends.
2) At times, I felt the Internship course (not the placement) lacked structure. I thought some of the focus topics were not relevant, classes were not structured well, and there was a lot of work that does not equal the two credits we receive. Sometimes, I felt that the class was an unnecessary addition to our already packed schedule/program (between Chinese class, elective class, internship) and the time could have been better used to focus on other classes, relieving student stress, and exploring Beijing. However, the teacher is very passionate about China, cares about the students, and did try her best to accommodate everyone’s needs, which I appreciated.
Overall, the pros far outweighed the cons, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Beijing. Beijing is a great city for culture, history, and food. It is quickly growing and bustling, and it is a great city to explore and meet new people. After coming to Beijing, I now see China in my future and can picture myself returning some day. CET does a great job cramming a lot into one short summer and truly cares about their students. I would definitely recommend this program to others considering it.