Nathan - Peking University

Bachelor of International Studies
Semester 1, 2018

Academic experience

During my time at Peking University, I studied finance, and three international politics courses focusing on Chinese politics, China's geopolitical relations and international organisations. What I found the most interesting was the different approach Peking University had to assessment and learning. There was a greater focus on rote learning and repetition in the assessment, such as class presentations and quizzes, but the learning in class was similar to home. There weren't many challenges as most of my courses were in English and the lecturers explained a lot of what was expected. However, if there was a problem, every lecturer had a teaching assistant who was more than happy to answer any questions and help out. As for the enrolment process, that was a bit of a headache as their version of sinet is all in Chinese and uses a weird preference system to determine what courses you get. However, the university does give you a full instruction sheet to go through, and you can ask them or friends for help.

Personal experience

I gained a plethora of international friends. This proved invaluable as we all travelled around to places such as Inner Mongolia, Nanjing and Shanghai and were more curious and outgoing as a group, as opposed to going alone. It allowed me to experience a lot more of China. Furthermore, the travelling let me practice my language in more circumstances and situations than normal. The main personal skills I developed was the ability to make friends fast and travel smarts.

Accommodation

I lived on campus. The thing I enjoyed the most was the fact that all the international students lived in the same complex and often the same building. This made it so much easier to make friends and to keep in touch. My advice for future students is to buy things from a department store called Carrefour (just down the road from Peking University), things like shower shoes, drying racks etc. All of them are cheap and really help make living in the accommodation easier. The host university has a reception at the complex so its very easy to ask them for any assist with living there.

Costs

I budgeted around $11,000 AUD for the whole trip, but really only used $8,000-$9,000. The rent was roughly 3,000 yuan or 600 AUD per month, but aside from that expense, most others costs were pretty cheap. If you took the time to look around the city, and aren't afraid of some cheaper looking places, you can get really cheap and large meals for 3-4 AUD. Furthermore, the campus at Peking University has a wide range of canteens of really cheap food. Entertainment, transport and travel could all be sorted through WeChat and for much cheaper prices than here in Australia. Just be sure to check reviews on the items beforehand as many look better than they are.

Professional Development

The primary skill that I learnt was the ability to think critically about China, and indeed states in general, but to be well informed at the same time. This sort of skill will certainly help in my professional development as I hope to become a diplomat to China one day.

Highlight

My highlight was getting to know people from around the world and exploring China together.

Top tips

Don't be afraid to get out and enjoy the country. It's not as scary as you might think.