Middlebury School in China: Hangzhou

Video and Photos

The Zhejiang University baseball team.
West Lake with another student
"Afternoon at West Lake"
"Pagoda, West Lake"
"Sunset Pavilion"


The Middlebury program in Hangzhou, run in conjunction with CET Academic Programs, offers cultural and linguistic immersion through a rigorous curriculum and adherence to the Middlebury Language Pledge. By pledging to speak only the target language while abroad, students will have the best chance of acquiring fluency and actively engaging in the local environment. Participants take an area studies course, a one-on-one content-based tutorial, and two electives. They live with Chinese roommates on the campus of Zhejiang University of Technology and may take part in excursions, volunteer work, and campus clubs and activities.

Students looking for more advanced language preparation prior to the start of the spring semester or who want to apply their enhanced language skills after the fall semester may be interested in the January term option in Beijing.

  • All course work is conducted entirely in Mandarin
  • Students adhere to the Middlebury College Language Pledge
  • Multiple tracks for students with 2 or 4+ semesters of Chinese experience
  • Housing with a Chinese roommate in dormitories
  • Cocurricular activities: cooking, ping pong, martial arts, hip hop, bamboo flute, watercolor, etc.

Questions & Answers


based on 5 reviews
  • Academics 9.4
  • Support 8.6
  • Fun 6.4
  • Housing 5.8
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 5 of 5
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Yes, I recommend this program

MIC Hangzhou

The program was great for language learning abilities. It required us to speak Chinese at all times, so it really helped me learn Chinese and learn how to live in a non-Western city. However, the dorm life was challenging, and although it helped me navigate a campus, I did not get close with my roommate. I would have liked to have opportunities to acclimate more with the campus community. The professors were amazing and really cared about us.

What would you improve about this program?
Respond better to student grading/academic confusion needs and help them become more a part of a campus community
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Middlebury Schools in Hangzhou

My experience in Hangzhou last semester helped me grow and learn a lot about the Chinese culture, language, and myself. The Middlebury Language Schools is a very academically rigorous program and students must be prepared for this from the beginning. We all had a language pledge which helped immensely with language improvement. However, on the other hand, it also hindered the social scene. I felt isolated at times during this program, confined to my room and stuck doing my homework. We had week excursions, but they did not seem as relaxed and casual because teachers and program directors also came. I wish there had been more activities with the other local Chinese roommates and the other American students in the program as well. I felt very stressed because of the academics because the classes were very small and the pressure to perform well increased since the teachers' focus was on their very small class of students. I also personally put a lot of pressure on myself to do well and learn the language, but that hindered my social enjoyment of the overall experience. I finally found frisbee, a few people in my program played frisbee. We went to local fields in Hangzhou to practice with other players weekly. This made my experience so much better and I am very grateful for having that outlet during my time in China. It gave me exercise, a place to meet people, and a outlet from my stress. The teachers were very kind and patient and sweet and very good at teaching us Chinese. The food and transportation in China is very affordable.

Additionally, as an adoptee from China, I look Chinese. This made it hard for me to interact with local people because they always assumed I spoke fluent Chinese, especially when with other foreigners/white people. They always assumed I was their local translator and got confused and frustrated when it became apparent that I could not speak fluent Chinese. It made my lack of language skills feel more obvious than the other American students and foreigners there because it was deliberately pointed out and drawn to attention. They also (perhaps subconsciously) went easier on white or foreign looking people, thinking it was a feat just when they could say one or two phrases in Chinese. However, when I spoke, they thought it was just surprising I couldn't speak better and I was just speaking bad Chinese. It was also hard to explain, and for Chinese people to understand, my status as an adoptee from China who had two white parents and no relation to China, other than just being born there. They asked where my parents were from, assuming they had immigrated to the United States from China earlier, or something like that situation. However, it always got a little awkward when I had to explain they were white and I don't speak Chinese at home and they were born and raised in the United States.

Overall, this experienced made me grow as a person. It made me realize that I should not take my ability to speak English and communicate freely in the United States for granted. I developed more confidence in myself because I now know I can live and travel in China where I can barely speak the language, then I must be able to do well for myself in the country I grew up in and can fluently speak its language in.

What would you improve about this program?
More social activities and integration.
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Yes, I recommend this program

This program changed my life

First, above and beyond, you will reap what you sow in any study abroad experience. If you work hard, make an effort to find local friends and make some of your own opportunities, this program is incredible. If you choose to stay with American friends, don't take the language study seriously, etc., you will have an interesting experience abroad.

I stayed for one year and the program was extremely challenging for me (I was probably not prepared sufficiently, in all honesty). The first semester was nothing but homework. Then all the other students except two left. The three of us looked at each other: we still had nine months there.

The second semester is where everything came together. I stopped hating China and fell in love with aspects of it. I made wonderful local friends. I felt at home. I still remember the moment, riding my bike back towards school from Wulin square.

In the end I spent about 6.5 years working in China. I was one of the first Chinese/English interpreters hired by Goldman Sachs (the other is also a Hangzhou grad) and I've translated for the State Department as well. My whole life pivoted in this city and, nearly ten years later, I still go back when possible and remember some things. Work hard, don't worry about the other American students too much and you will benefit greatly from the team in Hangzhou.

What would you improve about this program?
Some of the American students are just there goofing around. It's an incredible waste.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Hard, but extremely rewarding

I loved this program. In my year there were very few students, and we became as close as a family. Participation in the program was a lot of work, but completely worth it -- my language skills increased astronomically. We got to go on trips together, one longer one organized by the program, and others on our own. We explored the city on our own, and even when we were too lazy to think of something to do the program staff often had suggestions, or organized group outings within the city. This isn't a program that will leave you in a safe foreigner bubble, the emphasis on language learning encouraged us to go beyond our comfort zone, and we generally stayed away from the expat community.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful learning environment and staff, don't expect to have time to have fun

This six-week immersive experience was incredibly hard and rewarding. I was able to skip an entire year of college level Chinese through the six weeks. Because it's such a short time, don't expect to have too much time off. However, the teachers were wonderful guides for Hangzhou, and you're able to tour around Hangzhou or go visit Suzhou/Shanghai on the weekends. I especially loved Guo Laoshi's day excursion to the tea plantations and bamboo forests outside of Hangzhou. The city really does live up to its reputation as one of the most beautiful cities in China, and there was a CET-organized weekend trip to 1000 island lake, which was great. You'll spend a lot of time with your classmates and will often go out together to explore the city. The Chinese roommate experience was quite good as well, and depending on the roommate, you might be able to bond very well with him/her. Overall, I highly recommend it if you're looking to accelerate your language studies.