Maxwell - Peking University

Academic experience

At PKU I studied three courses: Chinese Politics and Public Policy, Intermediate Microeconomics, and Culture and Translation Criticism. Most courses at the university generally involve one 2-3 hour lecture per week with no tutorial classes, while the assessment style of the courses I took where not too dissimilar from that of UQ. One major difference however, was the process of course enrolment. This was categorised by the capping of student numbers in most courses (which in some cases could be as low as twenty) with successful enrolment being determined via a lottery system if the number of interested students exceeded the cap. Thankfully the University provides a clear set of instructions and timelines to help clarify the process.

Personal experience

One of the best parts about exchange was that I was able to befriend many people from across the world who were in the same shoes as I was and share experiences together. The local students were also very friendly and were always willing to help out in improving my Chinese. One let-down however, was that Beijing is such a large city that it takes quite a long time via public transport to get to many of the landmarks and tourist spots from The PKU campus which is located in the North-West corner of the city along with many of the other universities. Although, the high-speed rail made it very convenient to travel around to other cities in China. I visited Suzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu and Harbin which I thought were all amazing cities and offered a breath of fresh air over the mid-semester break.

Accommodation

While on exchange I lived on campus. There is a whole block of accommodation for foreign students with facilities that are alright. I would highly recommend this accommodation because it is not only much cheaper than living off-campus, but also good for staying in contact with other students.

Costs

The living costs of Beijing for students are much less than those in Brisbane. A bus ticket generally costs the equivalent of $0.4 (although inter-provincial transport can get quite pricey), while the university canteen offers food from all different regions for a very low price and the prices for accomodation are also quite low.

Challenge

One of the biggest challenges was to do with the language, which made it difficult for me to partcipate in the different clubs/societies that I was interested in. Also, one of my classes tended to end just before 10pm which often made it difficult to concentrate properly.

Professional Development

I believe that going on exchange was a great benefit to not only my language learning but also in learning to adapt to unfamilar situations.

Highlight

The highlight of my exchange experience was travelling with the friends I made to visit many of the famous landmarks in Beijing and different cities throughout China.

Top tips

- Make sure to download a VPN along with essential apps such as Alipay and Wechat.
- Take the time to travel to other places outside of Beijing, the highspeed rail is good for this.
- Remember to mingle with domestic students, not just foreign students.