Applying to Chinese Universities

After spending 6 months working in Shanghai in 2010, I realized I wanted to apply to a Chinese University to do my degree. In China as you can imagine there is a lot of universities and going to each one and discovering what they offer is very time consuming and also not knowing many universities in China can be quite difficult to find them. It can also be especially hard when most of their websites aren’t really adapted for foreigners. Even sending emails in English to that university can be very troublesome due to some of the universities not having adequate English speaking staff.

As British people know the system to go to UK universities you have to go through a system called UCAS which has all the information and applications for universities. So rather than doing all the hard work myself, I decided to check online if they had a similar system and thankfully they did. Which was basically the same thing, CUCAS. It has all the major information needed for each university and what they offered in one place. It was just what I needed. It was much easier to follow and understand than the university websites and also helped with scholarships which I wouldn’t have known about.

After much consideration I chose 5 universities all around China as I wasn’t sure where I wanted to be situated. They told me what I needed to apply to each one, so I sent them all the information and within a week, I had answers. CUCAS really helped guides me through the whole process that I know I would be lost without them. It made a painful process in to a simple, quick and easy one. I got into all the universities but I subsequently chose Beijing (BFSU) as it seemed to match all my requirements and was a well known university.

The next major hurdle after accepting the university was where I was going to live, as I was new to Beijing my best bet was living in dormitory until I got to know Beijing a little better. CUCAS was there to aid me again it gave me all the prices and details about the dorms. I was one click away and I booked a dorm room.

Of course for applying there is a service charge but I really think it’s worth it for the information they give, scholarship opportunities and the ease of applying makes it worth it.

Life in Beijing

When I got here I knew some Chinese and had been to China before and was aware of what to expect but I know for many it’s a huge culture shock. Getting used to the way Chinese run things can be an interesting experience. I registered and sorted out accommodation. The first night I ended staying in my room as I didn’t have any friends in Beijing and wasn’t sure what I just let myself in for. When class started everyone is in the same boat so you quickly make good friends. I’m currently in my third year at University and I love it here.

Obviously as a university student going out if an important part of student Life. Like most capital cities there’s a good night life here. The main area for clubs and bars, I would say is Wudakou and Sanlitun but be aware there is a lot of fake booze, so if it seems too cheap to be true then you’re probably right.

Taxi are super cheap compared to England a normal taxi ride will cost around 3-5 pounds which makes taxi’s my main way of getting around this huge city. There is also subways and buses which cost around 20/30p.

Food is a big part of life in Beijing and most people eat out every day as it’s so cheap, a normal rice dish is around 1-2 pounds. There is a lot of international restaurants and bars which is great if you want a break from Chinese.
If you want to look up things to do in Beijing, I would recommend ‘the beijinger’ which has most things that Beijing has to offer including restaurants, events and meeting people.

Shopping for clothes can be a little tricky if you have a western body shape. I’m normally a S/M in the UK which makes me a L/XL here. Which can make shopping a little hard when they mostly sell for Asian body types but they now H&M here which has more western style. I would also recommend Taobao. It’s online shopping similar to Ebay which has everything on there but it’s all in Chinese. However if you have Google chrome it will translate everything to English which makes like a lot easier. For some things, they do have cash on delivery if you don’t have a Chinese bank card. Learn about online shopping in China>>

Flat share

If you’re planning on staying in China for more than half a year I would recommend finding an apartment or flat sharing. As you tend to have more space, living room, kitchen, a lot less noise and extra freedom.

I personally had some friends who also wanted to move out, so we found a 4 bedroom apartment near school and we pay around the same price as the university charges for the dormitories. We found our apartment on ‘the beijinger’ but you can also go to the estate agents but there fee is very high. Normally you have to pay them one month’s rent as service fee so just be aware.

My flat mates who I live with are German, Korean and Columbian. We’re all teaching each other our languages which might not have happened in the UK and after we finish living here we’ll have friends all over the world. Which is fantastic, it helps make the world smaller through friendship.

At University

To get around university I have a bike which cost me 18 pounds and use it all the time to quickly get to my classes. I recommend getting a bike because normally the campuses are very large and for me I normally have class at one end and have to get to my next class which is normally at the other end.

All universities have cafeteria which only has Chinese food but it’s really cheap around 80p which I sometimes use when I’m running out of money. They do breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week which great.

Be aware that 90% of staff at universities can’t speak English so either make sure your Chinese is good or have a friend who can help you. Even the foreign affairs office don’t speak English so just be conscious about it.

Overall

I’m currently in my third year at University and I love it. I love university life and I’ve learnt a great deal about china but also other cultures as our class has such an array of people. I don’t have any British friends in China but in a way I’m glad because I’ve learnt so much from other people’s experiences and lives. I believe I made the right choice by coming here and I think CUCAS really supported me in my decision. I think my job prospects have also increased by studying in China. Overall I would recommend China as a place to study especially if you’re up for a challenge.