CIEE Intensive Chinese Language + Culture in Nanjing, China

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About Program

Take your Chinese skills to the next level in a thriving metropolis that’s both the former capital of the Ming Dynasty and current home to many Fortune 500 companies. Dive into university life with a combination of language and content courses taught in Chinese and English at CIEE Nanjing and our partner school, Nanjing University. Faculty at Nanjing University specialize in teaching Chinese language and content courses to international students. Students agree to speak only Mandarin to encourage language and cultural acquisition. All courses are complemented with CIEE co-curricular activities and excursions beyond the city to enhance classroom learning and provide intercultural understanding.

Program Highlights
  • Live with a Chinese roommate or host family to fully experience Chinese daily life, Nanjing style.
  • Explore southwest or northwest China and see how the people, geography, food and customs change from eastern China.
  • See temples and architecture from the Ming Dynasty and the Republican Era and learn how these periods influenced the China you see today.

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Program Reviews

9.8 Rating
based on 10 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 100%
  • 7-8 rating 0%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
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  • Academics 9.5
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.7
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 8 of 10
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Yes, I recommend this program

Time in Nanjing

I really enjoyed my time in Nanjing and it was wonderful to get to know the city. I wish I had come for two semester, even though I am also looking forward to returning home. That said, I wish I had taken more time to get to know the city and its people better.

I think it would have been nice to have a few Fridays (apart from the Fridays right before breaks) off so that it would be easier to travel/catch up on work/etc.

I will look back on this semester mostly for how much it has helped me to build my language skills and time management skills, not as much for the memories, which are also wonderful, but more of a nice add of.

Uh, overall a great program and glad I came, I'll definitely recommend it to my friends and classmates in the future.

What would you improve about this program?
I would enforce the language pledge much more strictly.
1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

CIEE Nanjing

This program was worth it. If you are looking for an immersive Chinese program, but still want the chance to get involved in the culture, this program makes both possible.
The academic standards are definitely high, but your Chinese will progress rapidly because of it. This program gives so many opportunities for immersion, from a language pledge, to Chinese roommates, Chinese tutors and and passion for seeing their students improve.
As far as culture, activities are every Friday, on top of other side things that may pop up. As an old capitol, Nanjing houses a lot of history, and we have access to it all. There are also chances to travel alone and with the whole group to other parts of China, which in my opinion are the most rewarding aspects of the program. To be able to see and interact with truly different cultures makes the experience especially rich.
It was hard, and learning chinese was not always easy. But in the end I am so grateful that I attended this program. The friendships and memories that I made here will be remembered for the rest of my life.

What would you improve about this program?
Living conditions are a bit rough, so maybe having a small bank of community cleaning supplies that students can use.
1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program


I think it's cheesy to say but I really do think of everyone I've met here as a family. Our teachers flip between being our mothers and our cool older sisters but I always have the sense that they care and are doing everything they can to help.
The language program is /intensive/. Monday - Thursday 2 hours of speaking/listening class and two hours of reading/writing class. In the advanced reading/writing class we learned an average of 80 vocab words a lesson, with a new lesson every two class days, a test every two weeks, 800 character essays in the off-weeks. The speaking/listening class had less volume but was more critical, each week had two dictations and one report, with a new lesson every week. At the beginning of the semester we signed a language pledge to only speak Mandarin from 8am-8pm Monday-Friday. From what I understand of the intermediate class, it doesn't matter what your level is, it will be a challenge.
Apart from the language classes there are supplementary culture classes, Taichi, Calligraphy, and traditional Chinese painting. There is also a required history class focusing on China-U.S. relations, which I found extremely interesting. Friday morning has an optional media class for advanced students, which discusses issues in contemporary China by looking at Chinese media. This class is 3 hours once a week, where the only homework is to prepare a 10 minute oral report regarding the topic for the week based on a piece of Chinese media you find for yourself. Friday afternoons there are excursions to sites in Nanjing. Nanjing is an old old city rich in history and interesting places, everywhere we went was well worth it. Some sites include the National Examination Museum, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's memorial, Xuanwu Hu lake, Nanjing history museum, Nanjing Massacre museum, and the Purple Mountain. These excursions are a lot of fun. Everyone goes out as a big group and talks and has a good time.
You can either live in a Chinese household or in the dorms with a Chinese roommate, either way you will live with a native speaker which is super useful for practicing conversational Chinese. I choose to stay in the dorm, which is the same building as our classes, so my class commute is just 8 floors down from my room. The Chinese roommates double as tutors, but your tutor won't be your roommate. That is, my tutor is someone else's roommate. Your tutor is required to meet with you minimally 3 times every week, each time for an hour.
I'm not sure if it's the same every year but this year we had volunteer English teaching on Wednesdays. We went to Nanjing's migrant school to teach Chinese 3 grader's English.
If you take all part in all the activities (I did) your schedule will be like this.
Monday: 8-12 Language Classes, 2-3:30 Taichi (Approx. 3 hours homework*)
Tuesday: 8-12 Language Classes, 2-5 China-America Relations History Class (Approx. 3 hours homework)
Wednesday: 8-12 Language Classes, 2:20-4 Teaching English (approx. 5 hours homework)
Thursday: 8-12 Language Classes, 1:45-3:00 Calligraphy/Painting Class (approx. 2 hours homework)
Friday: 9-12 Contemporary China through Media, 2-6** Excursion (approx. 0-4 hours homework***)
*All the homework times are just mine, it really depends on how hard you're willing to work and how fast you work. The fastest of us still had at least 2 hours everyday, 4 total to spread over the weekend.
**It depends on the excursion how long it will take
*** 0 hours if you plan to prepare for Monday on the weekend, 4 if you hope to have a totally free weekend
The Taichi teacher's English is pretty bad, the Calligraphy teacher's is alright, but she prefers to speak Chinese, the History class is completely in English, the media class is completely in Chinese. The excursions depend entirely on you, if you speak English with your classmates, it's in English, if you speak Chinese with the teachers and the roommates, it's in Chinese. If you take all the classes and try to speak Chinese during the excursion, you'll minimally have 21 hours exposure to native Chinese speakers every week, with more opportunities to talk outside of class with the roommates (and local people, talk to the locals!). My college back home meets 3 times a week for 90 minutes, which means each week I only got 4.5 hours each week, meaning each week of this program was equivalent to a month of classes back home, minimally. I'd say the whole thing is worth more than a year of Chinese language classes.
Also! There's a week off for spring break so you can travel within China. I went to Beijing, some others went to Sichuan (to see Pandas) some others went to Shanghai. Then in the middle of the semester there is a big trip. I think it changes every year but we went southwest to Yunnan. Absolutely wonderful Yunnan is. We picked tea leaves with locals, we stayed in their homes, they made local food for us, we picked pineapples (the best pineapples of my life) and I learned a lot about the way they live and what they care about.

The building has a bunch of bars and restaurants and cafe's near it. Food in China is ridiculously cheap. As of this writing the exchange rate is 6.6 Chinese Yuan = 1 USD. Most meals are about 10 Yuan, which is less than $2. "Expensive meals" range from 40-80 Yuan, which is $7-$11. When I say expensive I mean like 4 star restaurant quality /good/ meals for $11 dollars. American food exists, more expensive, no more expensive than in America.

The building's cleaning staff leaves something to be desired, but that's not actually in the program's control because the program simply pays for the rooms using the tuition fee, so the cleaning service is building wide. They basically never change their mop water so I got used to wearing indoor slippers in my own room, one girl actually asked them to stop cleaning her room because she felt they were making it worse.
Toilet paper is not free, most public restrooms do not have toilet paper, but every convince store sells it, so usually someone has some or it's not far. (be the hero that brings enough to share.)
There is not readily available hot water in the building, when you go to shower you need to activate the water heater and wait for it to reach temperature before you can have hot water for your shower. The rooms have air conditioners (hot and cold), but the A/C and the water heater both use metered electricity. You get 200 units of electricity a month (I have no idea how much 1 unit is in actual terms, I just know that if you don't leave the heater/ A/C on while you're not using them you probably won't run out) if you run out you can pay for additional units.

At first it seems way way too much, but within a couple weeks you adjust and you still have plenty of time to learn. I've learned more in these 3 months than I had in my previous two and a half years of studying, and I know if I could stay for 3 more months I would approach professional fluency.

Everyone here is so nice. The teachers are strict but it's because they want you to progress. They really care and constantly made our needs a priority. They also literally made cakes for us, celebrated every birthday, and would sometimes spontaneously take us out to eat for free.

One last thing. Almost everyone in China drinks hot water. In America, you might be in the habit of walking over to the faucet and pouring a glass of water when you're thirsty. You /can't/ do that here. The water that comes from the faucet is safe to brush your teeth with but is not safe to swallow in large amounts like drinking water. You can make it safe by boiling it, but that means that if you haven't pre-boiled any water, you'll have to wait almost 2 hours before the water is cool enough to drink. Some times. Pre-boil water. I would frequently boil water the night before and drink it in the morning. Bring a cup. If you can pour a little water out into a separate cup it will cool faster and you can drink a glass at a time instead of waiting for it all to be ready all at once.

What would you improve about this program?
Honestly, only complaints are with the building that it's in, but there's no way around that. It's part of Nanjing University and I don't think they have plans to fix it up or anything.
2 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

Small Program Big Heart

From day one, the teachers and staff are here for you. They truly make the experience personal and genuine, and will help you work through any cultural difficulties or academic struggles. The program usually consists of a small group of students, averaging 8-10 students. But unlike the other China programs in Shanghai and Beijing, there is no real distractions often accompanied with large cities. The cultural lifestyle of Nanjing is very safe and friendly, being a city mostly comprised of students and the elderly. This perfect location makes for a perfect chance to learn and enjoy the culture which can greatly complement your Chinese language studies. The teachers themselves allow classrooms to become a very inviting space for learning and sharing, and often every semester in this program, teachers and students all develop a deep relationship. Whether you're feeling homesick for the holidays, you have nothing to worry about. We celebrated Thanksgiving and Halloween, and even coordinated unplanned hiking trips with our teachers. As evidenced by everyone else writing reviews, the experience you can have in this program will be among the most memorable because of the teachers and friends that you meet here and the experiences you will create together.

2 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Study Abroad with CIEE Nanjing

Studying abroad with CIEE Nanjing has opened my eyes to a whole new world. But before I talk about the good stuff, what I learned, I want to touch on the excellent management and nature of the program itself. Upon arriving I immediately had a problem with housing. I registered for a student dorm but was listed as registered for a homestay. The staff at CIEE pulled some strings and helped me smooth over the matter and found a room for me. Right away they proved that they are there to help as best they can. I can't speak for other programs, but because there were only nine students participating in CIEE Nanjing, the staff was able to pay close attention to our problems and spend a lot of time making our experience as smooth and comfortable as possible. In addition, the student to teacher ratio was 3:1 in one class and 5:1 in another - something very hard to come by and invaluable in the learning experience. The ability for CIEE Nanjing staff and teachers to pay close attention to every student's needs is one of the best aspects of this program and helps in more ways than one can imagine (like when my tooth chipped or I had stomach issues or needed to exchange money to travel abroad etc., the staff was able to plan and help me any problem within a day or faster). Apart from the excellent staff and teachers, the environment in which we studied and lived together felt like home - close-knit, safe and sound. Whether it was on a program-organized excursion to the deserts of Dunhuang or the Purple Mountains in Anhui, or just us kids going out and exploring Nanjing, we always felt safe and welcome. Nanjing has dozens of colleges and universities and the highest student to population ratio in the world, so if you like going out and meeting people at cafes or karaoke bars you will have a great time and plenty of opportunities to meet people and practice speaking chinese. Which brings me to what I learned. My vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar improved greatly, but schoolwork doesn't leave a lasting impression or deepen your understanding of really communicating in the language. The best part of this program is the opportunity to really immerse yourself in the language by going out and meeting everyday Nanjingers and students from around the world.

What would you improve about this program?
Really commit to the language pledge.
1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Nanjing Spring 2017

Before I start I will say a little about myself my name is Maddi Chinn and when I went into this program I was a sophomore at Husson University in Maine with a major in English Education. At the time I was 19 and had very little knowledge of Chinese. My main reason for wanting to go to China was not only to learn to language, but also to learn more about myself. My grandfather on my dads side is from China and I was hoping to find or learn more about where part of me comes from. Anyway, last spring I was able to study abroad in Nanjing, China and it was the best experience I've ever had. During this program I was pushed to every limit I possibly had, but I learned so much from it. Although my experience was a little different from my peers. One of the requirements for the program is at least 2 semesters of college level Chinese, but Ciee accepted me with only one semester. In the program there are tree types of classes A, B, and C, but after taking the placement test it showed I was not anywhere near ready to be in classes A, B, or C. So, in my case I was able to take an actual Nanjing University International course. I believe being able to take this class with other students that were just beginning Chinese made my experience more well rounded then my peers. In my NU class there were students from South Korea, Australia, Germany, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Poland, Peru, and Spain. I got to learn about so many cultures while learning Chinese. Another thing about this NU class was since everyone in it was a beginner it was easier to ask to for help or find an understanding of a word or phrase. To elaborate my peers, that I now consider good friends, had at least 1 semester of Chinese more than me, so it was harder for them to try and understand why I would have trouble on things that came to them naturally. Through this class I made twice as many friends and in multiple countries and I actually think I learned more Chinese at a faster pace in this class. I think that if all the Ciee students could participate in the international classes, like I did, they could get more culturally enlightening experience.
Ciee was also very accommodating with my lack of Chinese. Not only did they have me take the NU class they also got a teacher to give me a private class for the second period. That second class was very hard, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. My friends and I had the chance to actually volunteer teaching English to 3rd grade class of Chinese students. That experience solidified my decision to teach English as a second language in Asia. This is a little off topic, but it was a fun little story. When we were teaching we taught in groups of three in my group there was also my friends Hailey and Pablo. So of course the kids would call me Maddi laoshi, Hailey Huali laoshi, and for some reason they had a hard time saying Pablo so he became BaBa (father in Chinese) laoshi and we all thought it was the cutest and funniest thing.
The city of Nanjing itself is rather large, but that means there's always something to do and the food is amazing! There were two streets one we called food street which is closer to the main entrance to the university and one called Dark Ally. On dark ally they have a bibimbop (Korean rice dish) restaurant or in Chinese called Ban Fan. That place was one of my favorites, along with a place that one of my friends called Mom's. On food street they have a biangbiangmian place, so if you study in Nanjing you HAVE to try these places and of course get jianbing for breakfast.
Another fun thing that happened in Nanjing was when we went on our group trip to southern China. I got to see a completely different side to China. Also, as long as you provide information on where your traveling (and the hotels are legit and safe) the teachers allow you to go on weekend trips. With the semi- flexible schedules my friends and I went to Beijing, Xian, Suzhou, and Shanghai. These trips also include spring break! a group of my friends decided to go to Tibet for a week and I decided to go to South Korea and Japan. Being in China gives you a good starting point for these kind of short trips on the side.
A final thing that I learned the very hard way is to always recheck your visa! Once I was in China I had my visa changed to a multi entry visa, but because of my lack of Chinese and our interpreter was having trouble interpreting what the visa officers were saying I received a brand new type of Visa where once you return to China from abroad you have to leave 30 days after returning and then come back again for 30 days. Since this was not properly explained I overstayed by 24 days. So when I went to head back to America after the semester I was stopped by immigration and had to pay about $2,000usd to leave the country. Moral of the story always triple check your visa!
I could go on forever with this, but this program changed my life in many ways, it enhanced my knowledge of China, it allowed me to visit places I've never thought I would ever go, gave me some of the greatest friends I have ever had, and made me realize that I want to live the rest my life in Asia. So once I graduate from college with my degree in English education I plan to teach English in Asia and live there as much as possible.

What would you improve about this program?
I think allowing all Ciee students to take classes in the international university would greatly enhance their experiences!
2 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Look no Further

This program was well-rounded in that it is academically rigorous while also focusing on cultural immersion and the overall experience of studying abroad in China. CIEE students are expected to speak Chinese as much as possible through small (4-10 students) participation based courses, volunteer teaching at a local school, and group activities, which means this program is not always easy, but you'll take full advantage of your study abroad experience, your Chinese will improve drastically, and you'll be able to speak intelligently to a wide variety of topics related to Chinese society and China-US relations. You'll have the opportunity to live like a local but explore and travel like a tourist, and you'll meet people that share similar passions and genuinely want to see you succeed. CIEE is a small, close-knit community of people dedicated to the success of the group and each individual. The teachers and coordinators are compassionate, supportive, and hard-working, spending time with us outside of class and getting to know us beyond class participation. The Chinese roommates, tutors, and host families are some of the most encouraging, patient people I'll ever meet, and the other CIEE participants shared my passions for learning Chinese and international relations. All of this made it possible to build connections with the entire CIEE community almost instantly. We traveled everywhere from Beijing to Tibet, deciphered Chinese menus (which are more difficult to read than you would think!), and spent hours in the study rooms together as a group, and these shared experiences have made us friends for life. I truly feel I have a second home in Nanjing, and if you're looking to study abroad, look no further because this program is amazing!

1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Didn't Want to Leave

I loved my time at CIEE in Nanjing! I thought the classes were great! I learned more in the first two days then I did in two years at my university. The staff is part of what made this experience so enjoyable. They're great teachers with a passion for teaching. They really care and want you to succeed. Nanjing is a great city. I wish I had more time to explore it. I felt my Chinese improved greatly and I would do the program again. I am sad that I only did a semester and not a full year.

What would you improve about this program?
No recommendations.
1 person found this review helpful.

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