So you want to study abroad in China? That’s a bold decision, so congratulations! You made a good choice.
I have lived in China for almost ten years (Beijing and Shanghai to be exact), and in my personal experience, not all cities are great places to learn Mandarin (or study abroad). Why? Because most cities in China are touristy and polluted. If your focus is to learn Mandarin or find a great university for a study abroad program, then visit one or two of these top five best cities in China.
By going to these cities, you’ll ensure:
- There are not too many foreigners.
- The city is pollution-free and clean.
- They have good Mandarin schools and good universities with study abroad programs to pursue.
- And, they have excellent sights to see, exciting nightlife to experience, and delicious local food to eat, among other things.
I am not entirely sure why, but I keep on returning to Beijing. Perhaps it represents the huge urban city that most foreigners like me love. Although the capital’s pollution often makes international headlines, I still admire Beijing for several reasons.
Beijing is the capital city and the second-biggest city in China where there are plenty of cultural and social activities to keep students here for a long time. Not to mention, the traditional and historical culture of the city is apparent in its palaces, bell towers, and “hutons” (Beijing’s popular ancient alleyways). If you’re out and about in the town, try “Beijing duck” – a traditional and very popular (and, of course, delicious) dish made from the duck’s meat and sliced in front of the diners.
So why study in Beijing?
Many international expats and students in Beijing often consider Beijing as their top choice for living (over Shanghai and other third-tier cities) for several reasons.
The most important reason may be because the Mandarin language spoken here is usually considered to be of a high standard, besides the captivating architecture and design. And, although the distractions, cost, and size of Beijing might hinder students’ learning progress in Beijing, if you’re someone who loves to be where the action is, this is the place for you to study abroad in China.
Qingdao looks just like Germany. There’s always some kind of fun happening just around the corner. The city also holds the world’s largest and wildest annual beer festival, and is home to the famous “Tsingtao Beer.” The brewing history dates as far back as 1898 when Germany overtook the city. The European streets and beer culture will most likely tempt you to stay longer than you planned. Both the expats and visitors talk a lot about the city’s exotic seafood, accessible coastline, mild climate, and beautiful architecture.
So, why should you study here?
The Mandarin schools and universities in Qingdao are world-class. The locals speak English to foreigners in an easily understandable way. The quality of life is also quite high, making the city a great place for international students pursuing their career, beyond just a place to study abroad in China.
If you can’t stand winter, Harbin might not be the city for you. But, on the brightside, you’ll come to appreciate those warm April days after you’ve been through the cold! The winters bring an icy appeal to Harbin, driving hordes of tourists for the annual ice festival every January and February, while the summers are quite remarkable. Harbin is also popular for its beautiful Russian architectural influence. Just come prepared with a warm coat, that’s all I have to say to you.
So why study in Harbin?
Well, the city boasts of having the most standard Chinese Mandarin of any other cities. They also have world-class universities. And the town is isolated enough to help you focus on your language and study abroad goals.
Xiamen is a modern and affluent city with a breathtaking colonial center, all set on a sub-tropical island. During one visit in 1985, President Richard Nixon referred to Xiamen as the “Hawaii of China.” To this day, you can find many expats and international students enjoying Xiamen’s relaxed and open-minded atmosphere. Every time I ask the locals which is their favorite city in China, Xiamen often comes as the number one choice for many. Students will also agree it is a prime location to study abroad in China!
So why study in Xiamen?
The local street vendors and the younger population are increasingly using standard Mandarin on a regular basis in Xiamen, which might dramatically help you with your language learning goals. Plus, there are many world-class universities in Xiamen, offering almost all types of study abroad programs.
Kunming, also popularly known as the “City of Eternal Spring,” receives high ratings from all those who have spent their lives for its laid-back lifestyle and temperate weather. It’s also the gateway to South-east Asia, and I particularly like the “zen” vibe there.
Foreigners and expats in Kunming have a special friendship. Unlike Shanghai and Beijing, international students and expats often say “Hi” to me on the street.
So why study in Kunming?
Kunming Mandarin may not be as standard as most of the north-eastern Chinese cities, but you can easily find a tutor with a more standard Mandarin accent. You can also watch or listen to local news anchors to learn proper Mandarin language.
Well, there you have it. Five best cities to study abroad in China where you can start your adventure.
Let’s hear from you.
Which of the above cities in China do you think best fits your learning requirements? Do you have any other recommendations for our readers? Share them in the comment box below!
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