Why you should study in Beijing, NOT Shanghai

tiananmen square

The votes have been tallied. The experts have weighed in. The world has paused, reviewed the top-dog cities in this crazy country of China, and awarded me the prestige of bringing the outcome of their discussion to the masses.

Beijing is the better Chinese city.

NOW - before you scroll like mad to the bottom of this article to give me an earful in the comments, you need to hear me out. For Chinese language learners, there is no better city in China for studying abroad than Beijing. No, we aren't saying it is better for travelers, businessmen, or tourists per say, but for students wanting to study Chinese in China, you can't find a better city.

Still not convinced? Read on to discover the ways living in Beijing will positively impact your Chinese language skills!

1. Fewer foreigners

Because Beijing has a more edgy and raw feel to it, it naturally has attracted more hardcore Chinese enthusiasts than its cosmopolitan sister to the south. The only expats who are attracted to Beijing are those who sincerely want to be exposed to traditional Chinese culture. Living in Beijing can be a challenge at times (and that is putting it nicely), so those foreigners who set up shop here have a love for China that runs deep.

What does this mean for you and your language skills? Less foreigners = less opportunity to grow comfortable using English to communicate. You'll appreciate these lost conversations when you return home and your Chinese is baller status.

2. More immersion opportunities

True, there are parts of Beijing that feel so internationalized, you could be walking around any world-class city. True, there might be a number of foreign students in your classes instead of Chinese people. True, your dorm room or apartment building might have a healthy combination of expat and locals.

At the end of the day, though, there are pockets of Beijing that remain often unseen to the foreign eye. Unlike Shanghai or Hong Kong, the immersion opportunities in Beijing don't always have to be sought out - they'll usually find you (sometimes at the most inconvenient of times!).

Actively taking advantage into these oft-looked over alleyways, gardens, and outdoor markets will benefit your language skills. How, you may be wondering? Well, the Chinese folks you'll interact with therein will use a more authentic version of their language - forget that slow pace and clear accent you find in the classroom.

3. Less English Translations

Think of all the pickles you'll get yourself into (and eventually out of!) when you don't have those handy English language translations on your menus, addresses, and street signs. Other Chinese cities are actually perfectly suited for residents who don't speak a lick of Chinese to live relatively comfortably. Not so in Beijing.

This'll help improve not only your Chinese speaking skills (and general sense of awareness), but also your reading skills. When you begin recognizing characters almost immediately, be sure to tip your hat to sweet-home-Beijing.

4. Chinese Standard Accent

Chinese textbooks will teach you to speak with the national dialect, which comes from... you guessed it, the capital city itself! If you want an easier transition from classroom to real world Mandarin, studying in Beijing affords you innumerous lessons around every corner. 

BONUS! Travel-Related Benefits

Great Wall sunset panorama

5. More to see

Beijing has a host of activities to tempt even the most diehard student to take a break from the books and do some good exploring. Be it historically significant sights such as the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square, to the richly cultural Forbidden City and Summer Palace, to the world class shopping of Wangfujing, Beijing is a city that can keep you busy for weeks on end. No other Chinese city is even close to being on the same level.

Bejing is also a good location for visiting other cities, whether it's up to Harbin Snow and Ice Festival or down to see the Terracotta Warriors, there are plenty of places only a cheap overnight train ride away! Why not enroll in our Study and Travel program to see some of the less well known cities around China!

6. Cooler sights

Not only are there more sights, but Beijing is definitely home to cooler sights. Sure, Shanghai has a sweet architectural river walk (it is awesome for sure) and Chengdu has its pandas and Hong Kong has its seamless combo of city / island / scenery life, but, at the end of the day, Beijing's list of tourist sights are way more awesome.

They're the perfect combination of cultural and traditional, modern and contemporary, and highlight well the unique transitional period that China, as a whole, is facing this century. 

Study in Beijing: It'll allow you to think in the language, to live in the language, to communicate frequently in the language. Most importantly, living in Beijing means you're less likely to replicate your life back home while in China. Now that you've settled on which Chinese city to call home during your studies, now's the time to pick your university of choice!

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more about universites and programs in Beijing. 

Have you studied in Beijing? What was your experience like?



In-Depth-China      CSA-blog

  • Beijing

    China Study Abroad Ltd
    3610 Capital Mansions,
    6 Xinyuan Nan Road, Chaoyang
    Beijing, 100027
    Phone: (+86) 10 8468 3799 
  • London

    China Study Abroad Ltd
    154 Bishopsgate
    London EC2M 4LN
    United Kingdom
    Phone: (+44) 0207 377 84 
  • Hong Kong

    China Study Abroad Ltd
    Rm 604-7 Dominion Centre
    43-59 Queen’s Road East
    Hong Kong
    Phone: (+852) 800 968 924 


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