Kunming, also referred to as the “City of Eternal Spring,” is the capital of Yunnan province in southwestern China. Bordered by Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Tibet and India, Kunming is one of the country’s best travel hubs. Its distance from the coast and other major Chinese cities give study abroad students a unique perspective on the way of life inland, free of excessive westernization.
Broadly speaking, you’ll be studying in one of the most beautiful provinces in China: unparalleled landscapes, natural beauty, and its rich melting pot of colorful cultures (over 25 different ethnic minorities call it home!).
- China’s University and College Admission System offers excellent student scholarships to individuals pursuing study abroad options as undergraduates, masters, or graduate students.
- The Council for International Education Exchange (CIEE) offers scholarships to CIEE program participants who are members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in study abroad.
- Many scholarships for study abroad are offered through the U.S. government, including the Freeman-Asia Program and the Gilman International Scholarship.
- More Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships
Culture and Immersion
Although it is a large and thoroughly modern city (Qingnian Lu, Zhengyi Lu, and Renmin Lu are the most commercial areas), Kunming retains a quaint charm that makes it a very enjoyable destination - people in Kunming never seem to be in a hurry. Parks are often packed with the elderly playing cards and checkers, families enjoying an afternoon out, and young couples holding hands on a stroll. Back alleyways are filled with all sorts of vendors hawking everything from handicrafts to local snacks (chicken feet are still a favorite here!).
The culture in Kunming is hard to put your finger on. The number of ethnicities residing here mean endless opportunities for new things to see and new dialects of Mandarin to use. Celebrate the cultural fervor in one of the many festivals that happen in Kunming each year. It can be truly enchanting!
Because Kunming is set further away from the highly developed coast, a student budget is highly welcomed here. You can expect to pay less than $500USD per month on your apartment and utilities, even in the areas that are popular among foreign students (such as the Wuhua district). You can get stuffed at local noodle bars for under $2USD - be sure to try all of the varieties!
Culture Shock and Support
When you are choosing a program to study abroad with, consider reasonably the amount of support you would like to have while on the ground in Kunming. Maybe you prefer to be set free and do your own thing after your first few days - group trips and "community building" isn't really your style. Find a program that reflects that.
Conversely, if you'd like the extra support and to leave all of the planning/organizing to the experts, a more formalized program will be appealing to you. Should you struggle with culture shock, you'll have a team of people there to talk you through it and hear you out (maybe even treat you to your favorite western snack!) Students preferences vary and you should choose the type of program that best fits you (not your friends).
Helpful Hints / Insider Tips
One of the best parts of living in Kunming is the accessibility to other nearby countries and cities in Yunnan province. Travel within the province is very affordable and should not be overlooked! Check out Dali, Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge, and Shangrila and get there by a budget-friendly bus or train.
Kunming is near a huge lake called "Dian Chi" - a great place to explore on foot or even by boat (not too expensive in the off-season for tourists!).