Write by Charles, Zimbabwean student now is studying Aeronautical Engineering in Shenyang Aerospace University

China has many universities now teaching in English medium focusing mainly on International students.  There are many universities offering a wide range of majors from undergraduate degrees to Doctorate level in the fields.

Applying to study in China

The application process to study to a Chinese University is not complicated at all. Some students, I included used University representatives (Agents) based in their own country for the application process. The new CUCAS website is more efficient for the process as I have seen. You will get the chance to compare universities easily and apply to any university of your choice. The website is much simple and its website is very use to navigate. The processing fees are reasonable and it is easy for you to see the progress of your application. The application processing fees are reasonably low and once payment is made you are guaranteed a response from the university.  As long as you meet the requirements of the university there is a great chance you will be admitted. The only process that took long was getting the entry visa. Once you get your entry visa consider yourself home and dry.

Life in China

After completing all the formalities you are on your way to a whole new world. Inform the university about your arrival date beforehand to ensure you do not have to wait for a long time at the airport. The university will make arrangements to pick you up and assist you from there. If the university does not have this service asks them for a note in Chinese with the name and directions to the school. Make sure you have the contact details of your university prior departure. If you do not have knowledge of basic Chinese the first days will be quite challenging. The universities understand this and they will offer assistance in your early days. They will help you through your residence permit application and other official procedures.  The original application letter and the JW202 form are important and you have to carry them over also you will have another medical examination before you are given a student visa.

On your first days of arrival you will be given a Chinese name. Most of the times it will be something that sounds close to your name, if you are lucky you may get a name with great meaning but in most cases the names do not have meaning. In some cases you may get a name that sounds funny or has a funny meaning. In order to avoid this just type your favorite word into Google translate e.g. “King” and tell them it is the name you want.

Living costs

The living expenses are low but may vary with location with major cities being a little more expensive. Universities offer on campus accommodation and most give an option for off campus accommodation if a person is interested. For the first few months I recommend that you live on campus while you learn the language and get accustomed to the new environment. If you have learnt Chinese prior to your arrival it will not be an issue. The university accommodation in most cases is a little cheaper than living in the community but it also increases the rate at which you adapt to the environment.

The clothing and food is very affordable. It is worth noting that man most face to face transactions in small shops are negotiable. It is advisable to hold back for a week or two while you learn the tricks from other experienced students. Online shopping is very convenient and there is a very wide range of products and brands to choose from. Although it may seem cheap to buy online it is very easy to overspend, try working on a budget.

The food is not expensive whether you are ordering or preparing meals on your own. Cooking on your own is a little cheaper and you have the university kitchens at your disposal. I would recommend you mix the two in order to get the real feel of China as they have many dishes to offer. Transportation here is very cheap and the public transport system is very efficient. You have the public buses and the subway for close to nothing for local routes. For example it costs 1 – 2 Yuan using for public buses in Shenyang to any location the bus passes through which is less than $0.30. Taxis are available at a higher price but compared to other parts of the world the rate is very low.

The transportation system is also very complex and it is very easy to get lost if you take the wrong bus. It is very handy to have the school card with the school’s phone number and address in case this happens. For the first weeks I think it would be best to stick close to senior international students and closely monitor what they will be doing.

Social Activities and Entertainment

The universities organize many events to increase interaction between international students and local students. For example at my school there is Chinese corner every week where you get to practice your Chinese by speaking with Chinese students. The local students are generally very friendly and will not miss any opportunity to help you or invite you to an activity. As your spoken Chinese improves you will make a lot of friends without much effort. There are enough activities to keep any type of person entertained. There are many parks, cinemas, game centers, clubs and amusement parks very close. Most people know about the great wall but that is not the only beautiful historical monument here. It is very easy to get lost in the fun and a little control will get you a long way.

As for security you do not have to worry it is very safe in China and you can move about freely anytime of the day.