Scott, an American in Tokyo is planning to move to Shanghai to study Chinese. He sent me the following questions:
Around this time next year, I’m planning to move to China to take intensive Mandarin courses for at least a year. I’m definitely a city person, and from my current perspective, Shanghai appeals to me most. However, I’m having second thoughts. I’m having a difficult time deciding which city to focus on–Shanghai, Beijing, or somewhere else. I was hoping you could help me with two questions:
1. In your opinion, do you think Shanghai is still a viable option for studying (and learning) Mandarin considering the dialect spoken in Shanghai, plus the higher cost of living compared to other cities in China?
2. About how much money (in RBM or USD) would a student need to get through one year of studying at a university in Shanghai (including tuition, rent in an average part of town, food, drinking money, and some spending cash)?
Credit: Scott. Quoted with permission
Regarding your question about which city to study, it is highly dependant on where do you plan to work and live after you learnt the language. If you choose to work in Shanghai (I recommend it), you’d better study there since it gives you plenty of time to get familiar with the city, settle down and for the job hunting.
The living cost is higher in Shanghai compared to that in Beijing. Shanghai is a modern city with good living facilities, so you will feel less culture shock. Check the 10 Things You Love/Hate About Shanghai.
Beijing is more like a typical Chinese city – long history, traditional architectures, slower pace of live, beautiful landscape. You can understand the Chinese culture better there. Although, the side effect is, the culture shock will be great for you. As you said you are a city person, Shanghai is a safer choice for you and Beijing is an exciting adventure.
Purely Learning Chinese
If you don’t consider other aspects of moving, I would highly recommend you to go to Beijing to study Chinese. Beijing is the capital. It is the culture, art, architecture (traditional) central. There are very good universities there, like Beijing University and Tsinghua University. They offer very course – I heard some expat friends recommend them.
Regarding the dialect, Beijing also have a strong dialect, that is different than Putonghua (Mandarin). Personal, foreigners who can add some Beijing dialect appear to know the language better to me. Sometimes it is a hint to really know about the culture in China.
If you choose Beijing, Beijing University has better reputation on literature and language. So does the foreigner language education there.
I don’t know the cost of Beijing. For Shanghai, here is the tuition and accommodation cost for Shanghai Jiaotong University (SJTU):
USD990/term or RMB8200/term
Single Room: 3300 RMB/month or 1200 USD/3 months
double Room: 3600 RMB/month or 1300 USD/3 months
4 hours/day, Monday to Friday for 12 weeks
April 7, 2003 – June 27, 2003
July 7, 2003 – September 26, 2003
September 8, 2003 – December 5, 2003
October 8, 2003 – December 19, 2003
January 5, 2004 – April 2, 2004
Source: Shanghai Jiaotong University Adult Education School Language Training Center For reference propose only.
The room on campus of 3300 RMB/month is very high. You can find apartment in nearby neighborhood with lower price – around 2000 RMB. For other cost, it is definitely cheaper than that in Tokyo or U.S. Food is cheap here but drinking (especially at bars) are expensive. The cost depends what you think is necessary for life.
Chinese Program Review
Fudan University’s Chinese language program is TERRIBLE. All foreigners who have studied there agree on this. I know it’s a famous university, but evidently they don’t put much effort into developing a good Chinese language program.
Have you studied in any Chinese Lanaguage Program in China? Please let the others know your experience by posting a comment on this page. You will find the comment form at the end of this page. In your comment, answer the following questions:
1) Which university did you go for the program?
2) Which program did you attended?
3) What is the length of your program?
4) What is your Chinese language level before attending the program?
5) Overall comments on the program?
6) Top three reasons why you are satisifed or dissatisified with the program?
7) What you’d like to say to those who are considering enrolling the program?