• China
    • Beijing
Academic Year, Fall, Spring
Subject Areas
Asian Studies Business Communications Film Literature Sociology

Program Details

Program Type
Degree Level
Host Family
Oct 11, 2018
Sep 18, 2017
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About Program

Our Contemporary China & Chinese Language program offers students an array of Chinese language courses, including upper level, topic-based Chinese language electives, and area studies courses taught in English. This program will benefit students who want to rapidly expand their knowledge of written and spoken Chinese, and their knowledge about China in general.

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from IES Abroad.

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IES Abroad Scholarships

IES Abroad Scholarships and Financial Aid

Financial limitations shouldn't prevent you from studying abroad with us. That's why IES Abroad offers more than $6 million in scholarships and aid. IES Abroad offers a number of diversity scholarships and grants to provide opportunities for traditionally underrepresented communities in study abroad.

$500 - $5,000

Program Reviews

9.67 Rating
based on 6 reviews
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  • Academics 9.2
  • Support 8.8
  • Fun 8.8
  • Housing 9
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 6 of 6 reviews
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Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful experiences and adventures disguised as school

This program at IES abroad offers a wide array of amazing opportunities that are life changing. We went on a huge adventure trip to China's most southern province and experienced picturesque scenes of beauty and got to know the ethnic diversity that is present in the area. In Beijing, we had many great opportunities to see places like the Summer Palace, the Lama Temple, the Forbidden city, and many other historical sites as class excursions/field trips. The teachers are highly capable and are wonderful people who are much more than just a professor. The school was at a great location with many fun things to do in close proximity and amazing restaurants close by. This program offers you the opportunity to make life long friends, make great connections that will help you in the future, and most important of all, learn Chinese to the best of your ability.

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

IES Beijing: A Wonderful Way to Experience China

Studying abroad in China for the 2015-16 academic year with IES Abroad was undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable, challenging and transformative experiences of my life so far, and I look back on my experiences in Beijing as the highlight of my college career. China is a great choice of study abroad destination because it is a unique and complex country with a rich cultural and historical heritage, not to mention its status as a rising world power or economic powerhouse, which ensures its relevance to any major or profession you pursue. Living and learning in Beijing for two full semesters allowed me to experience Chinese culture firsthand and observe China’s mix of modernism and traditionalism to gain a better understanding of the nation in a way I simply couldn’t do from classes back at my home university in the US. Not to mention, my Chinese skills improved by leaps and bounds along the way! Overall, the IES Abroad Contemporary China & Chinese Language program provides a very good study abroad experience and I would definitely recommend participating in the program.

The most notable academic aspect of the program is the emphasis on Chinese language learning and, of course, the Chinese language pledge. The program requires 8 classroom hours of Chinese language instruction per week (2 hours M-T and Th-F with Wednesdays off), but students at the 300-level or above can elect to take additional 2-credit language elective courses. From personal experience I would recommend the Modern Slang class for learning fun sayings and words relating to Chinese pop culture and society- your Chinese roommates and host family will be surprised to hear you speaking like a local and love helping to explain the terms’ origins to foreign students. The quality of instruction in the Chinese language classes is very good with an average of 4-8 students per class, and IES offers many levels of Chinese from beginning through fourth year/fifth year. This flexibility with the language placement helps find a fit for each student. The language pledge requires speaking only Chinese in classes, with everyone else on the program, and in all areas of campus. While it sounds intimidating, it really is the best thing to help improve your Chinese if you challenge yourself to stick to the pledge as much as possible. At the end of the program, you will find that speaking Chinese gradually comes to you more naturally, and you will be better able to hold conversations, explain your meaning, and navigate more complicated situations in entirely Chinese. The language pledge isn’t particularly strict at the start because it’s gradually increased in intensity at various points throughout the semester (ex. First only 8am-4pm, then 24/7), and students do tend to slip into English when they leave campus for ease of understanding, so it’s not overwhelmingly strict in the long run. While the English-language area studies electives were interesting but not very challenging compared to US university courses, the demands of your entire academic courseload with your Chinese language classes are quite intensive and require significant time commitment, especially with the daily听写quizzes. That being said, if you are good at time management and are prepared to work hard then you will not have a problem progressing rapidly and achieving the grades you want while also finding time to go out and explore Beijing.

The program environment and amenities were overall really nice. The IES Beijing Center is based at Beijing Foreign Studies University in the northwest Haidian district, known as the “university” district of Beijing and therefore a great place to be a student! The campus is beautiful and conveniently located only a quick subway ride away from many interesting and culturally significant sites in the city. Living in China is generally inexpensive, plus there are plenty of cheap but delicious student eateries nearby and an on-campus cafeteria, so if you are thrifty your money can go far here to give you a good lifestyle for a fraction of the price of studying abroad in more expensive Western European nations. As for the program’s support network, the program staff are all very helpful and willing to lend an ear if you have any concerns, need someone to talk to about anything or just want to blow off some steam. It’s very easy to get to know your teachers, RAs and program administrators on a personal level since it’s quite a small program, and I’ve found that the bonds you will make with other students on the program will be especially strong, providing emotional support from people who are going through the same experiences with culture shock and can help you overcome the challenges you face on the program. Although there were sometimes some issues with miscommunications or poor coordination between staff and students on the program, IES was overall good about keeping students informed and running the program smoothly.

As for the degree to which you are able to get a feel for Chinese culture and engage with China through this program, I found that IES is very good about planning activities and events around Beijing to help you get acquainted with the city, including visits to local sites and the occasional group restaurant meal. The highlight of the semester for a lot of people was the weeklong extended excursion trip to a rural part of Yunnan, Guizhou or Ningxia provinces, where students were able to travel together to see different parts of China and experience some very unique activities such as a three-day village stay with local ethnic minority families. There were also two or three four-day independent travel weekends each semester. The living arrangements, whether homestays with a local Chinese family or dorm rooms with Chinese BFSU students, will both help you learn about Chinese culture firsthand through exposure and see how Chinese people live. I lived in a homestay my first semester and a dorm my second semester, and both were great experiences. Bonding with the Chinese roommates was also one of the highlights of my experience in IES because they are genuinely interested in bonding with you and learning about your culture too! That being said, the IES program is rather detached from the rest of BFSU as IES Beijing has its own classrooms and course in a separate building from many of the Chinese students’ classes, and the IES students live on a floor of the international students dormitory specifically reserved for IES, making it very easy to fall into the IES “bubble” unless you make efforts to get out and meet other around campus if you are interested in doing so.

As a whole, I feel that I have grown immensely from my time in Beijing with IES Abroad. Although studying abroad in a nation as different from my home community as China is not without its challenges, it is a very rewarding experience to learn about such a fascinating country and culture while meeting friends from around the country and across the world, and I will forever be grateful for the IES community I was lucky to be a part of during my time in China. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone interested in China or studying Mandarin! I hope my review was helpful in giving you a better idea of what to expect on the program, and I hope you have a fun and fulfilling study abroad experience with IES Beijing like I did!

What would you improve about this program?
There were sometimes issues with effective communication and coordination between administration and students, but not to the point where it significantly impacted my program experience in a negative way. There could also be more efforts to help students get out of the IES "bubble" and engage with the rest of the BFSU campus and community.
5 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Take the Leap, Study in Beijing!

For anyone who has ever studied Mandarin Chinese and is interested in studying abroad in China, Beijing is the place to go. After studying abroad for even just one semester, it’s easy to find hundreds of reasons to fall in love with this amazing city.

The IES program in Beijing gave me a great environment, helpful tools, and great support during my semester. The program’s location on the campus of Beijing Foreign Studies University is ideal. It isn't too far from many of the major sites of the city, including Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, Beihai Park, and other amazing areas. Transportation in Beijing is fairly easy- you can hop on the subway and reach an amazing site halfway across the city fairly quickly- just be careful to avoid rush hour! The campus itself is in the university district, and the area is full of a variety of restaurants, stores, bars, fruit stands, and other stops. If nothing in the immediate area is what you're looking for, there are thousands of options just a quick subway stop away! The program's academics helped me immensely with my goal of improving my language skills. The classes are small, which made it easier for me to get to know the professors and my classmates. The language classes are taught in Chinese and the area studies classes are taught in English. For students at or above a certain language level, there's also the option of taking other Chinese-taught electives. One of the requirements of the program is a language pledge. The pledge may sound intimidating, but it really did help me improve my listening and speaking skills, even more so than in classes back at home. The living situation was also helpful for improving my Chinese and my overall experience abroad. You can either choose to live with a host family or in a dorm with a Chinese roommate. I had an awesome roommate who taught me about her culture and was curious about American culture. The opportunity to get to know my roommate and talk about our cultures was an amazing opportunity for me, and definitely added to my experience abroad.

If you are considering studying abroad in China at all, my advice is to take the leap and go for it! Studying abroad in Beijing was the best decision I have ever made, and I would enroll in the IES program again in a heartbeat.

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

One of the Best Experiences of My Life

What do you think of when you think of China? In my experience most people think of the smog, pollution, and overcrowding, as well as the completely different language that usually winds up with someone trying to imitate it, poorly. When I left for China, these conceptions of China were all swirling around in my head like a tornado, but once I arrived and settled in my preconceptions of China melted away and I understood what China is really like.
Beijing is an incredibly intimidating city. There are few places in the world where you are surrounded by 24 million people. However Beijing is not a vertical city, it is a sprawling city that reaches out over sixteen thousand square kilometers, which really makes the city seem like a small country. In Beijing, there is so much to do, see, and experience that it is impossible to put into a small review. Beijing has ancient cultural sites, buildings, and events but also has a very strong modern atmosphere to it. The Great Wall and the Forbidden Palace are typical cultural sites that many people think of, but there is so much more than just those sites. There is the Summer Palace, the Yonghe Temple, and so much more to explore. In addition to Chinese culture, there is Sanlitun, the famous district where there is shopping, cafes, and many other western influences. Sanlitun is something that I think most people would not expect of China, this is a place that shows off how modern China has become. While these places were the highlights of my trip, there are an unlimited number of alleys, back streets, and paths that could be taken to the next adventure and that was one of the reasons that I loved Beijing so much.
My time in the IES program was fantastic. Our program was smaller than in previous years, which I believe, lead to more personal relationships with the staff as well as other students. This program is heavily focused on language. There is a language pledge that requires speaking only Chinese on campus. I also had around 2 hours of Chinese daily as well as other cultural, economic, and governmental classes. This program is not a cake walk, however it was incredibly rewarding. My time in the classroom as well as my one on one tutor sessions helped my Chinese skill by leaps and bounds. My cultural understanding also improved significantly from my in class experiences, but also from the many trips we took throughout Beijing. On the other hand, the IES program is not all work and no play. There were plenty of opportunities to make friends, both from my home country and from China, throughout the entire trip. I met many people who were so different from me, but also so similar to me. It was easy to make friends and the intense anxiety I felt about being alone in a new country quickly vanished. Overall, the program was an excellent mix of both educational challenges, having fun with new friends, and exploring a new place.

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

I Wish I Was There Longer

The way I see it, everyone has around eight semesters to achieve their degree. What we choose to do within those semesters is up to us as long as we meet our concentrations requirements and maintain a minimum GPA. What some often forget, however, is that behind that degree are all of the memories and friends that we made along that way during those semesters.

For me, study abroad was a way to not only strengthen my Chinese fluency and further my pursuit for a Chinese major, but also to turn 12.5% of my eight-semester college experience into some of the most memorable months of my life. For me, choosing to study with IES Beijing began with the recommendations from many peers and trusted professors. From there, my own research concreted my decision to spend a semester in the Chinese capital.

IES did a terrific job with everything inside and outside of the classroom to ensure that our experience in China was enriching. The two things I enjoyed most from my time with IES were the week long IES-sponsored field trip in Yunnan and taking place in the opening event for the year of joint tourism between the US and China which took place at the Great Wall.

I am disappointed. Disappointed that I waited so long to study abroad. Disappointed that I only spent one semester with IES Beijing. To say that I was pleased with my experience would be an understatement. When I arrived at the Beijing airport to begin my program in China, I was counting down the days until I would be back home in America. When I arrived at the airport again to head home, I was counting down the days until I could return to Beijing again.

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

Best of Beijing

The prospect of studying abroad in a country as far away and as different as China can be daunting, but if you're looking for the best semester of your college career, look no further. IES Abroad's Beijing program is the best of both worlds: a language-intensive classroom with plenty of opportunity for cultural immersion.

Housed on the campus of Beijing Foreign Studies University, IES Beijing is located in a fun and vibrant neighborhood on the western side of Beijing. Just a few minutes outside the door, you can find anything from authentic Chinese food, bubble tea and groceries to cat cafés, bars and karaoke clubs. No matter what time of day, there's always something fun to do just around campus alone. And, when you're feeling adventurous, you can always hop on the subway and visit anything from historical landmarks like Tiananmen Square to nightclubs and Western-style restaurants in Sanlitun.

The idea of a language-intensive program with a language pledge may sound terrifying, but the staff at IES Beijing are all warm and welcoming and ready to assist you by any means necessary. The amount of support with which the teachers and Resident Advisors provided us made all the difference, so when you're having a rough day and speaking Chinese is the last thing you want to do, they're always there for you. Despite the level of difficulty, Chinese class was always entertaining and enjoyable!

Choosing IES Beijing was, by far, the best decision I've made in my college career. I was able to not only vastly improve my Chinese, but also make memories that will last me a lifetime. The staff there will do anything they can to help you succeed academically, socially, and emotionally during your time in Beijing!

What would you improve about this program?
Organization was sometimes lacking in some programs.
5 people found this review helpful.
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