CET Harbin

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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


based on 20 reviews
  • Academics 9.6
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 7.4
  • Housing 8.2
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 16 - 20 of 20
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..... 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.

How can this program be improved?
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!
Yes, I recommend
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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.

How can this program be improved?
I wish that more graduate students were also in the program.
Yes, I recommend
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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.

How can this program be improved?
Somewhat better facilities. Our dorm rooms had pretty sub-par furniture.
Yes, I recommend
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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.

How can this program be improved?
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!
Yes, I recommend
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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.

Yes, I recommend


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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...