CET Harbin

Video and Photos

About

Are you a serious student seeking exceptional teachers and peers who are as committed to improving their Chinese as you are? Do you want to live in a city known for its standard local accent and lack of dialect? Then CET Harbin is the program for you, with its intensive all-Chinese curriculum and a full-time language pledge. You select the topic for your one-on-one tutorial. How about Sino-Russian Relations, or Food Culture in China? You'll master specialized vocabulary through one-on-two classes and electives that range from Classical to Business Chinese. Advanced students can pursue thesis-level research in Chinese. Classes get you out into the city, too, to a newspaper office or a teahouse. Chinese roommates provide instant insider's information about the city—not to mention teaching you the latest slang. Visit the famed ice festival. Travel the region with new friends. This program is open to students with at least 4 semesters of previous Chinese language classes.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

94%
based on 20 reviews
  • Academics 9.6
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 7.4
  • Housing 8.2
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 1 - 15 of 20
Default avatar
Autumn
9/10

Just Speak Chinese 只说汉语

If I had to advise anyone what to be prepared for in this program, it would be to:
1. Shed any preconceived notions about how cold your winter is, and to think that you are "prepared" for Harbin's weather (a.k.a. make sure you have clothes for multiple layers packed, at least 3)
2. To only speak Chinese 只说汉语
These are my simplest pieces of advice for one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had in my undergraduate career and 20-something-year-old life. CET Harbin is not one of those study abroad programs where you go to mess around, or to take a semester just to have some fun (you certainly can enjoy yourself), but it is one where you will go in with a particular goal (to speak Chinese better) and will come out having accomplished that goal (actually being able say more than your name and your favorite color).
The reason why I liked this program so much was the way it was set up. It's really well-organized with amazing people and small class sizes. You have a world of opportunity to practice your Mandarin in class and with your Chinese roommate until your mouth is so tired that you give up and result to hand gestures and small drawings to explain your meaning. There will be many funny anecdotes to tell your friends and family, such as the time your tones and pronunciation were so bad the 服务员 didn't understand that you wanted 热水, and when the pharmacist gave you that peculiar look when you meant to ask about 口罩 (masks, for air pollution) but instead inquired about 口交 (oral sex). However, CET Harbin will provide you with a 1-on-2 class that will focus specifically on your pronunciation and tones so you can buy your masks with confidence.
Harbin also provides weekly excursions which I highly recommend taking a break from studying to participate in. There are outings to museums, restaurants, mountains, local parks, restaurants and a Buddhist temple. I mentioned restaurants twice because about every excursion includes food that you don't have to pay out-of-pocket (FREE FOOD) and Chinese food itself is packed with flavor and deliciousness (Vegetarians be warned, it is hard to find meatless food). There is also a 3-day trip that differs depending on the semester you go, and it tends to be a really good bonding experience with other Chinese roommates and your classmates. My semester (Fall 2016) we had a bonfire and outdoor karaoke session on a farm, climbed the Great Wall, and saw the border of North Korea. Plus there was food included.
I said earlier that one of my favorite parts of the program was the amazing people I met. Take advantage of having the roommates, as I remember one of my biggest regrets was starting to get close to people at the very end of the program who I didn't talk to much earlier. Also there are over 10,000 students on HIT's (host institution) campus, so if you have the opportunity and confidence to; talk to people outside of the program, or join a club even. It'll take some time to settle into your life in China, but after the first month life becomes a lot easier and your Mandarin will skyrocket.
Overall I'd say again, pack warmly and just speak Chinese. Be open-minded. Talk to the roommates and your classmates. Don't cry over the amount of homework you have or if you forget something. Know how to pronounce the word for "masks" before you go into a pharmacy. There's a lot more I could go into, but there are other reviews for that!
My semester in particular had a lot of Fulbright scholars that chose to go here to improve their Chinese. If that doesn't say anything about the rigor of the program, then I don't know what does.

How can this program be improved?
For the fall semester I really enjoyed the 3-day trip at the beginning, but it would've been nice to do something at the end with everyone.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Erin
9/10

An excellent academic challenge abroad

My professor from my home university recommended that I attend CET Harbin, and I don't regret listening to her advice! I was academically challenged in many ways, specifically with giving many presentations and essays. In addition to the homework, the professors engaged us in class and encouraged us to practice our Chinese in culturally relevant discussions. My favorite aspect of the program was how useful the language skills that I acquired were to my needs. CET Harbin does an excellent job at tailoring the classes to what the individual student wants to concentrate on. The other students strictly follow the language pledge, creating a language environment in which everyone helps each other progress. Although I did not participate in many activities, I had a chance to travel around the city, which was beautiful. It is not a big city like Beijing or Shanghai, but has much character and beauty. It was overall a wonderful environment to improve my Chinese level, both academically and aesthetically.

Yes, I recommend
Greta
10/10

Harbin Study Abroad

I arrived in Harbin on the 4th day of the Spring Festival, a sharp scent of gun powder punctuated the night air and the rattle of firecrackers cut through the weary numbness then descending on my jet-lagged brain. I had strained to understand the signs in the airport and I couldn't seem to get a single tone right when I tried asking for help, 'what am I getting myself into?' was the prevailing thought of the day. Luckily, all of the exhaustion of travel and the shock of entering a new cultural environment were assuaged as soon as I arrived on campus at HIT and met with Li Laoshi, Xuan Laoshi, our RA, the other staff whose patience and kindness left me smiling and ready to take on the challenge of the language pledge. As soon as the pledge started, all the students began getting used to the sounds of our Chinese names and growing into our new identity as foreigners, although we made many mistakes, confusing tones or flipping characters around, our roommates and teachers were always patient and encouraging, laughing with us and helping us take the next steps to making our Chinese more 地道。We had fantastic courses where small class sizes allowed everyone to participate and get our questions answered. Our teachers were super willing to answer questions after class hours and supported us to make sure that we all got the most out of the program. Some of my favorite memories also come from outside of class: cooking wonton soup, and going out for hot-pot, learning to play Harbin Majiang, taking my first high speed train ride on our class trip to Beidaihe (where we saw the eastern-most section of the Great Wall), and learning to bargain, and picking up on local slang from our roommates.

How can this program be improved?
Honestly, there's not much I would change. It might be nice if students were allowed the option of textbooks that used 繁体字 however, I appreciated the chance to get used to Simplified Characters as well.
Yes, I recommend
Jocelyn
9/10

Warm Memories in the Ice City (Harbin)

I arrived in Harbin ready to make the most of this opportunity to participate in a semester of CET, funded by my Fulbright fellowship. My Mandarin abilities were minimal so the first month under the language pledge was excruciating. But I persisted through the discomfort of sitting silently at the dinner table because I knew this all-Mandarin environment was rapidly improving my speaking and listening abilities. I was forced to figure out how to express myself in Chinese, even if it meant stumbling through butchered sentences at first. By the half-term Fall break my Mandarin had already improved at an exponential rate. By the end of the program, my Chinese roommate was my best friend and we were regularly staying up late at night giggling in bed over stories from each of our days. The subject of these stories was often boys. My uncle told me there are several truly beautiful things one will experience in life: having a baby, falling in love, and making a friend in another language. Needless to say, my Mandarin has improved dramatically since my first week of “你好吗?”.

How can this program be improved?
Honestly, this program was nearly perfect. I understand CET conducts competitive analysis of other top language programs to ensure they are using best education methods of the time.
Yes, I recommend
Sarah
9/10

"Mother Tongue is your Refugee"

This was the thought that ran through my head throughout the first few weeks I was experiencing my time as a student under the dreaded Chinese language pledge. Before arriving I did not realize how serious this pledge would be, and I also did not realize how well it would actually improve my Chinese.

The program was intense, but it does its job. My Chinese has become remarkably better than when I started my semester in Harbin. It is also possible to form deep friendships with Chinese roommates and classmates in the program. I feel like I have been left with friendships that will last a long time. I am also thankful for the unique experiences that CET has left me. For example, visiting the China-North Korean border, Great Wall and other excursions!

How can this program be improved?
I wish the dorms were a bit better. My roommate and I's dorm sometimes had issues with the toilet and with our heater.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Tyler
8/10

哎呀我的妈呀!

Studying abroad in Harbin was an experience! I was able to learn so much about Northern Chinese culture, as well as experience other cultures that are prominent in the North. Visiting the museums and memorials was astonishing, Harbin is a historically and culturally rich area. I found it interesting that I was able to learn so much about Russian, Jewish, and German culture. One of my fondest memories was when we stumbled upon a German restaurant that wasn't far from campus. It was a lively restaurant that happened to be having live karaoke. It was a wonderful night where we were able to drink delicious beer that was a brewed in the restaurant, enjoy some snacks, and the live music. As I look back on my time in Harbin, that was one of my favorite memories.

How can this program be improved?
Some of my program mates wanted to have the program moved to the newer dorms but I feel that the dorms that we use have a history behind them because they use them every semester since the program started. They are a bit dated, and hard to get used to.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
NL
10/10

I love this program

I participated in this program twice and both times I learned way more Chinese and way more about China than I even expected, forming lifelong friendships with American and Chinese people along the way. Harbin is a wonderful city and a perfect environment in which to study Chinese, and CET provides a huge amount of institutional support.

How can this program be improved?
I would, if at all possible, cut certain features to lower the price tag so that post-college students would be more able to attend.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Slava
10/10

The Best Thing I've Ever Done to Learn Chinese.

CET Harbin is undoubtedly one of the best study abroad programs in China, which is high praise given just how many good programs there are. From my perspective, everything was planned to give students a true immersive language learning experience.

Our classes were challenging but very enjoyable. Due to the extremely small class size, I was easily able to get individual attention in every one of my classes. The teachers were very well trained and really knew how to teach Chinese to foreigners. Every class really stressed learning how to speak authentic Chinese, rather than learning awkward textbook speech.

Apart from classes, CET did a terrific job creating an immersive language learning environment. Every student had their own Chinese roommate, so finding opportunities to speak Chinese outside of class was not at all difficult. The program was small enough that we, the CET students and our roommates, really resembled a family. A bigger program might have lead to awkwardness and social cliques, but in our program everyone was friends with each other. This is important because it made communication and adhering to the language pledge both fun and rewarding. I wasn't just friends with my own roommate, but also formed relationships with my friends' Chinese roommates.

The combination of CET's classes and immersive language environment really caused my Chinese to improve rapidly. I was seeing results after just a few weeks. I've found that many students believe just being in China will allow them to improve their Chinese, regardless of which program or school they go to. While it is true that being in China gives you limitless opportunities to use the language, it is not always easy finding and taking advantage of those opportunities. In contrast, CET gives students a strong foundation from which they can focus on improving their Chinese.

How can this program be improved?
CET's small class size allows students to receive a lot of individual attention from teachers. While the classes in general were nothing short of amazing, I found that teachers often did not take the time to correct Chinese tones too often, even though they had the chance and time to with the small class size.

After speaking in class, there were times when I immediately thought to myself that I got some tones wrong in my speech. However, many of those times, my teachers did not correct me. In class sizes of 10-15 people, I can understand teachers not having the time to do so. But, in a class of 2-3 people, I do expect teachers to be more strict on tones.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Shirley
10/10

Provides a Holistic Language and Immersive Experience!

My day to day experiences included conversing with many Chinese on the street. I found that I really enjoyed speaking to elderly Chinese people who were always surprised that I could speak Mandarin. At first, I struggled to understand what was being said to me, I found that the more that I initiated conversations with people, the more I was able to tune my ear to understanding what was being said to me. These interesting conversations also helped me to overcome my nervousness about being incorrect. People were nice, laughed at me, but were eager to help me if I said something incorrectly. I came to really appreciate that help!

How can this program be improved?
Quite honestly, I have no complaints. Everything was a matter of my learning to adjust to different learning methods and a different lifestyle.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Connor
8/10

I Fell in Love with Harbin

During my year with CET, I fell in love with Harbin. It is an incredible city and now all I want to do is to go back. Our classes were challenging but always fun; our teachers were our friends and were 100% committed to teaching us to speak Chinese. We would WeChat after class, see each other around the university and the town and even eat together. It was great! Our roommates were almost always willing to take us out or to join us at bars, restaurants or even just for a walk around the town. I dated one of the female roommates, visited her home and traveled all over China with her.

There were some challenges. Sometimes a few of the students turned the study of Chinese into a competition, with the bad attitudes to match. But it was always easy to rise above it. There was some horrible pollution, but a pharmacy right down the street sold the appropriate masks. It was cold... very, very cold... but honestly, it just added to Harbin's charm!

How can this program be improved?
The only problem that I had with the program was that the Chinese roommates selected to live with us in my second semester formed cliques among each other and seemed more interested in living in our dorm because of its quality than anything else. They even used to lock themselves in our study room and not let any of the students use it. It was very frustrating. I talked to my girlfriend, a previous roommate, and she told me that the Chinese roommates that participated in the program in my second semester were almost all friends before living together, so they were far less interested in making friends with foreign students. I do not know how CET could fix this, but...
Response from CET Academic Programs

Thanks for taking the time to write a review on your CET program! It's always wonderful to hear about your experiences abroad and is invaluable to us as we help new students most of their study abroad experience. Please stay in touch! Join our LinkedIn group; follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram; and feel free to contact us if you'd like to discuss any aspect of your experience further. -Shelley Jessee, CET staff

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Bailey
9/10

City of Ice

If I had to describe my experience in Harbin in one word, it would be intense. That definitely described the academics, which were very rigorous. The program challenges you, but at the end of it you'll have immense gains both in language skills and confidence. Also, although Harbin may not be as fun as huge cities like Beijing or Shanghai, it's not too bad either. My time at Harbin was characterized by both frantic studying and some very fun weekends spent hanging out with new friends.

How can this program be improved?
More organized events for students in the program and their Chinese roommates to socialize would be nice. That might have helped prevent some of eventual self-segregation that happened in my program, although maybe it's always a little inevitable.
Response from CET Academic Programs

Thanks for taking the time to write a review on your CET program! It's always wonderful to hear about your experiences abroad and is invaluable to us as we help new students make the most of their study abroad experience. Please stay in touch! Join our LinkedIn group; follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram; and feel free to contact us if you'd like to discuss any aspect of your experience further. -Shelley Jessee, CET staff

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Harriet
10/10

My Time at CET

CET provided not only a wonderful academic environment, but also a thriving social environment as well. Every day, I would have several hours of class and homework, but the work-load was not so extreme that I was cooped up in my room 24/7. In fact, I had ample time to chat and eat meals with my room mate, go out and explore the city of Harbin, and generally immerse myself in Chinese culture.

How can this program be improved?
Actually, I found CET to be pretty close to perfect. If I had one complaint, it would be that one teacher and I didn't get along, but I feel like that was due in large part to cultural and language barriers as opposed to the atmosphere of CET.
Response from CET Academic Programs

Thanks for taking the time to write a review on your CET program! It's always wonderful to hear about your experiences abroad and is invaluable to us as we help new students most of their study abroad experience. Please stay in touch! Join our LinkedIn group; follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram; and feel free to contact us if you'd like to discuss any aspect of your experience further. -Shelley Jessee, CET staff

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Luke
9/10

CET Harbin Spring Intensive Language Program Review

CET Harbin is one of those programs where, especially if you haven't taken a language pledge program before, you may go in apprehensive or even a little scared. But everyone I know who came out of the program wish they had gone to Harbin sooner or stayed for at least another term. It really is a wonderful opportunity if your goal is to massively increase your foreign language capabilities (in this case Mandarin and the Dongbei dialect), and immerse yourself in Chinese culture. Go to CET Harbin, you won't regret it!

How can this program be improved?
The dorm conditions could be improved, especially when it comes to appliances offered in the kitchen, and in some cases the conditions of the bathrooms were unfortunate. Other than that CET Harbin is arguably the best program that CET has to offer in China.
Response from CET Academic Programs

Thanks for taking the time to write a review on your CET program! It's always wonderful to hear about your experiences abroad and is invaluable to us as we help new students most of their study abroad experience. Please stay in touch! Join our LinkedIn group; follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram; and feel free to contact us if you'd like to discuss any aspect of your experience further. -Shelley Jessee, CET staff

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jake
10/10

Take Off Your Blinders

CET Harbin was a life-changing experience. I find Chinese a wonderfully delightful language to speak, and being able to converse with just about anyone on the street using what I learned in class was wonderful and great for building my confidence. Prior to going to the country, I thought there was only one path for me, government service and then becoming an interpreter, but going to China took off the blinders and exposed me to countless opportunities in all aspects of life. Although there were challenges, working nonstop in a foreign language can be tear-inducing at the best of times, I made lifelong friends, gained a healthy dose of perspective and ate chicken feet. Who would have guessed?

How can this program be improved?
Some suggestions about light/interesting Chinese reading material/music would have helped my immersion even more.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Sita
10/10

Chun Bing

One highlight of my trip was this Chun Bing restaurant that my roommate introduced me and my friends to. The food is amazing and really cheap. There would usually be about 5 of us going to the restaurant, so we would be able to order about 4 different dishes. My personal favorite was DiSanXian, which had eggplant, potatoes, and peppers. Others really enjoyed the egg dishes.

Yes, I recommend

Interviews

Meet the Alumni

Meet the Staff

About CET Academic Programs

CET Academic Programs is a study abroad organization that has been developing and delivering innovative educational programs abroad since 1982. Originally “China Educational Tours,” CET began operations in Beijing, and today offers a varied portfolio...