CET Harbin

Video and Photos

In Front of Zhongyang Dajie
In Front of Zhongyang Dajie
Winter Outside Dormitory 6
Winter Outside Dormitory 6
CET Thanksgiving
CET Thanksgiving
Downtown Harbin
Downtown Harbin
Harbin's famous district known for its Russian influence.

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 Chinese Environmental Conservation, or China's Tech Boom? 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 teach 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.

Highlights
  • Small, intensive Chinese language classes
  • Customizable One-on-One Tutorials
  • Out-of-classroom learning & assignments
  • Full-time language pledge
  • Local roommates

Questions & Answers

Reviews

90%
based on 29 reviews
  • Academics 9.3
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 7.2
  • Housing 8
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 16 - 29 of 29
Default avatar
NL
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Default avatar
Slava
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Default avatar
Shirley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

What would you improve about this program?
Quite honestly, I have no complaints. Everything was a matter of my learning to adjust to different learning methods and a different lifestyle.
Default avatar
Connor
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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

Read my full story
Default avatar
Bailey
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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

Default avatar
Harriet
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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

Default avatar
Luke
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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

Default avatar
Jake
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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?

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

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.

Default avatar
E
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

..... run with it !

Please see my review comments in the "how could this program be improved" box below .... thanks! The system somehow would not allow me to copy and paste some observations about my experience that I recorded earlier.

What would you improve about this program?
My journey of learning Mandarin has been an eventful one. Whilst I was growing up in Hong Kong. Mandarin was part of the curriculum in my high school. We were using the “bo, po, mo, fo” system instead of pin yin. I, for sure, do not have natural talents when it comes to languages. Nonetheless, the end result was shocking. After two years of “learning”, the only words that I could probably remember saying correctly was “飞机场”.

Although having a good command of Mandarin, ideally being fluent in the language, has always been a personal ambition, there was just no real opportunity to re-initiate the project. I did make some half-hearted efforts by listening to language tapes etc but my attempts were simply futile.

As China’s status rises on the world stage, it becomes all too apparent that Mandarin skills are no longer luxuries. Mandarin skills are, in fact, mission critical, at least in the field of finance that I work in. I might be late to the party trying to get a good grasp of the language, but it is better than never! And an immersion program would seem to be the ideal path to turbo-charge the whole progress.

Being an adult student turned out to be fairly straight forward. I was lucky that my fellow students were switched-on and well-rounded. It could also be that I am young at heart. I was so busy everyday doing homework whilst keeping up with my work, time just flew by. I recalled vividly being asked only once by one of my classmates whether or not it felt awkward hanging around with a bunch of twenty something students, and my answer was a categorical “no”!

My biggest challenge was less to do with my age, but with my Hong Kong background. Being fluent in Cantonese, I have the advantage when it comes to reading and writing. Of course, I needed to rewire my head when it came to grammar and vocabulary. However, the painful part was my pronunciation; I often felt that I lacked control of my tongue. I received comments with respect to my southern China accent, and/or my allegedly American Mandarin accent (according to some taxi drivers). It was amusing at times, but on a bad day, it could make me wonder just how much process I have made. I fully understand that in order to grow, one must get out of one’s comfort zone. To this end, I was forcing myself to talk to strangers with the full awareness that I might look silly, if not, outright stupid. In any case, towards the end of my tenth months in Harbin, I just cramped as much as I could in my head and tried to persuade my tongue to be as flexible as possible whenever I opened my mouth.

On reflection, I never, for a moment, worried about what it would be like being an adult student before I headed out to China. As it turned out, the experience has enriched me in many ways more than just being proficient (ok, almost fluent, with some vivid imagination) in the language. For that, I feel very fortunate. A very smart person once told me, “the mind is like a parachute, it only works when it is open!” Would I suggest “another adult” to embark on such venture? My simple answer would be “keep an open mind, and run with it!”

Thank you for a great adventure! I just wished I did it some time earlier!
Default avatar
John
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Good program in hindsight

Overall, CET was a very positive experience for me. Although sometimes during the program I would feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of work, and frustrated by my perceived lack of progress, by the end of the program I was quite glad to have done it, and also feel that it helped my Chinese immensely. Looking back, the only real problem was the food. I quickly got tired of the food in Harbin.

What would you improve about this program?
I wish that more graduate students were also in the program.
Default avatar
Carrie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Abroad

It is better to go into a study abroad experience with little to no expectations or preconceived notions. You are there to learn and have fun, not to worry about whether or not you will fit in. Most times you won't. Which is fine, but just be courteous and pay attention to social cues. You are representing your school and country, so even if you are stumbling drunk around the bar district at 2am, be sure you take care of each other and not hurt anyone. Other countries have much different prisons than America, most of the time they are much worse. Don't be that kid.

What would you improve about this program?
Somewhat better facilities. Our dorm rooms had pretty sub-par furniture.
Default avatar
Dare
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Excellent Experience!

4 classes meeting 2/3 times a week and keeping the language pledge greatly improved my Chinese speaking, listening, reading! At most, 5 students per teacher, so close friends and connections. So many happy memories of school dances, weekend trips to different parts of Harbin, hiking mountains, ice-skating on the soccer field, eating at local restaurants - even celebrating Christmas in the dorm study room with friends. Altogether, one of the best experiences of my life.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have liked more opportunities to travel outside Harbin - we had one week of fall break to travel, but besides that, we didn't get to leave the city much.

I guess that was ultimately okay, though, because now Harbin feels like a second home!
Default avatar
Molly
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Intensive immersion in Harbin

I enjoyed every aspect of my experience in Harbin with CET - if I had the chance to do another study abroad program, CET Harbin would still be at the top of my list, over other programs in places that I haven't been to. CET Harbin had the perfect combination of interesting cultural experiences, rigorous academics, and fun social life that I was looking for in study abroad.