11_Literal_Translations_of_Chinese_Words.jpgWhile studying any foreign language, your teacher will no doubt tell you not to translate words or phrases literally back into English. Well, sometimes doing so uncovers accidental, or not-so-accidental, gems. Below are a list of eleven words in Mandarin whose characters translated word-for-word back into English reveal some insight into their naming process, or at the least, help make them easier to remember...
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    5 Must Read Books on China

    Here at CSA, we tend to talk about China a lot. While we love talking about China, we also love reading about it. We discuss everything from the political climate to the food to the people. Our students are always asking what they should read to try to understand China, and so we decided to condense the hundreds of great books about China down to a select few. Whether you are a long-time admirer of China or are just starting to learn about the Middle Kingdom, here’s the top 5 must-read books about China: 



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    IMG 0242If I could pick any city in the world to live in right now, it’d be Beijing. I suppose that’s why I’m here, but my path through American high school means I’m limited to staying for the summer. I was here last year, and coming back to Beijing seemed like an obvious choice, but in the interest of expanding my understanding of China I planned to leave the capital to volunteer in Anhui province for some time as well. Other than that I had no plans to leave Beijing, but surprises happen all the time in China. On CSA's Great Wall Camping trip I made a new friend, Ben, a German living in Shanghai for the summer. And so a week later my friend, Aneesa, and I are boarding the high speed train on the way to figure out what Shanghai is all about. 



  •  {fastsocialshare} MfX1HOV
    Okay, brace yourselves, another incredibly random blog coming your way. So ‘off the wall’ I had to seek special permission from my boss (CSA David) to even be allowed to write it.
    So what’s this week’s topic of madness? Well, a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the cultural differences between China and the West in my China FAQ blog. All these comparisons triggered a memory about a TV show I used to watch many moons ago by the name of ‘Firefly’. For those who don’t know or don’t remember what Firefly was, it was Fox Network TV series starring Nathan Fillion set in the future about a renegade set of war veterans (on the losing side) who had become lowly paid mercenaries flying around the galaxy on an aging, but unique spaceship called ‘Serenity’.

     So how does this have anything to do with China?

  • qufu confucius camp
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    • Overview

    • 2014 Itinerary

    Confucius Camp, Qufu, 2014

    This unique itinerary offers an insight into the teachings of arguably the most influential thinkers in China, Confucius and his protege Mencius. Set in Confucius's hometown of Qufu, two and a half hours from Beijing, this group trip combines an immersion language program, lectures from a prominent Confucian scholar and sightseeing of Confucius's hometown and surroundings - all packed into a two week period.

    ConfuciusIncluded in this program is the following:

    • Intro to Confucius & Mencius Course
    • 6 Part Lecture on the teachings of Confucius and Mencius
    • 8 Morning Chinese Classes
    • Sightseeing and learning about Confucius's hometown including:
      • Confucius's Home
      • Confucius Temple
      • Climbing the sacred Mount Tai (TaiShan)
      • Confucius's Family Residence and Cemetery
    • 12 nights accommodation in Qufu Normal University - International Exchange Centre
    • 12 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 12 Dinners
    • Registration assistance when you arrive


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    Confucius Camp, Qufu, 2014

    Confucius Camp.2014

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    DSC 7450
    It’s been a little while since I last wrote a blog, so I thought what better way to end ‘the blog drought’ than by writing about my recent CSA trip to Harbin in North-East China.
    For those of you who are perhaps unfamiliar with Harbin, it’s a small city of ten million people (this is small by Chinese standards), which lies in Manchuria – North East China. This part of China is renowned for its warm summers but bitterly cold winters with temperatures plummeting to about -20ºC daytime average and approximately -30ºC nighttime average. When you couple a bitterly cold winter with hundreds of Chinese army soldiers with not a lot to do, you get the perfect recipe for one of the most spectacular festivals you can ever experience -  the Harbin Ice Festival. What started in the 1980’s as the army building a few ice and snow sculptures for the public to marvel at, has turned into a full-blown international spectacle where Harbin can celebrate its international heritage via a display of some of the worlds most majestic ice sculptures and snow exhibits.
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    It's no secret that learning Chinese is difficult, but you can certainly have fun doing it! I've compiled this list of my top five favorite digitial tools to help with learning Chinese. It's worth noting that I am a beginner so this list is probably most appropartate for those in the beginner to intermediate range. 

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    So I’ve recently put on a few pounds of weight, nothing major, but I am definitely fatter. How do I know this? Well its not because I’m struggling to fit into my clothes or because my non-existent scales have told me so. Alas… I know because every time I see my Chinese friends or post a photo of myself on Wechat I get asked the same old question, “最近你胖了” (zuì jìn nǐ pàng le ma?) Which means, “Have you gotten fat recently?” Which is a Chinese way of rhetorically telling you that you have indeed become rather fat. To those who don’t know China that well my advice is to not get too upset by this. Unlike the West, telling someone they have gotten fatter isn’t actually that offensive as long as you use the right terminology. You are in no way obligated to believe me but trust me when I say it can sometimes be seen as a compliment as it implies that a person cares enough about another person (in this case me) to notice a difference in their appearance whether positive or well…. Not.

  • help living in china
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    • Overview

    • Application Only

    • Help On Arrival

    • Find An Apartment

    As China is developing and more and more students are interested in coming to China, the levels of support required by students is changing.  We understand that sometimes it can be more difficult and stressful than expected when trying to relocate to China; however, we also understand that sometimes students don't require the full package support provided by CSA. For those students who prefer just a bit of assistance with a particular aspect of their program, we also want to make sure you have the backup needed – regardless of where you may need the support. Enter... CSA's living in China support packages (to the rescue!).

    If you opt to forego our full package assistance for studying Chinese in China (you study abroad rockstar, you!), you can also select our services à la carte. There are 3 different options to choose from:

    Follow the links above to purchase a package or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions! 
    Apply Now Sign up today and let CSA worry about all the hard stuff!

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    Chinese University Application Assistance Package Only (US$150)

    The CSA Chinese university application assistance package is designed for students who are looking for an independent experience in China, but would like a little help with the paperwork beforehand. We will assist with making your application to any university in Beijing, Shanghai, or other Chinese cities and advise on all queries before you get here.

    The application you fill out for attending university in China is quite different than the format, style, or expectations of the kind of apps you are used to. Let CSA help coordinate your application to your Chinese university of choice, retrieve your application materials and acceptance letters, and coordinate safe mailing procedures from China direct to your doorstep. For a nominal fee, you can free yourself of the worry of "getting in" or not!

    What services are included?

    We're glad you asked! Students who sign up for this package can expect...

    • Pre-departure assistance
    • Chinese University Application Submission
    • Chinese University Application Fee (usually around US$100)
    • Document Retrieval from University
    • Arrange Document Delivery, scanned or originals as needed
    • Assistance with Visa Application issues/questions

    More information

    If you're ready to study Chinese in China but paperwork gives you a headache, this assistance package has your name on it. Let us help your life in China starts off on the right foot (and at the right university, no one likes to walk into a classroom they're not supposed to be in!). Feel free to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions. 

    Or purchase this package here! (US$150)

    Apply Now Sign up today and let CSA worry about all the hard stuff!

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    Help On Arrival Package (US$500)

    What is more fun than getting off a plane in a new country and trying to figure out how to get to your dorms or apartment? Not many things, but if that sounds like an added stress to studying abroad, this is the package for you. With CSA's airport pick up and transfer package, you'll be able to land in China and get where you need to be (without all the headaches of figuring out public transit systems or risks of getting ripped off by your taxi driver!). We'll also show you around, introduce you to other CSA students and be available for your whole stay in case you run into any problems - it is like an insurance policy, we're there if you need us!  

    For those arriving in China and looking for a little help in navigating your first trip into the city, you're in luck. If you are not confident in your Chinese skills, communicating something as simple as where you'd like to go with your cabbie can be a monstrous task.

    Let CSA do the dirty work for you, and help make your first moments in this fascinating country special, not stressful.

    What services are included?

    CSA wants to ensure the transition to life abroad is a smooth one - this program includes...

    • Airport Pick-up
    • Local area orientation (restaurants, supermarkets etc.)
    • Assistance buying a local SIM card on arrival (app/mobile payments setup etc.)
    • Help open a local Bank Account (and any other errands!) 
    • Welcome Dinner
    • University Registration assistance when you arrive 
    • Meet up with the other CSA students and be kept in the loop! 
    • 24-hour on the ground support while you are in China, including medical assistance. More Information ►

    What's NOT included?

    If any of these additional services listed below sound appealing to you, you might consider our additional assistance packages or a full-support program while studying Chinese in China.

    • Assistance finding an apartment/room
    • Police registration
    • Your Chinese university application coordination

    More information

    Ready to take that giant leap into the great unknown and move abroad to China? With the help of CSA, you'll be able to do it without missing a beat. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions!

    Or purchase this package here! (US$500)

    Apply Now Sign up today and let CSA worry about all the hard stuff!

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    Find An Apartment Assistance Package (US$500)

    We are constantly working on the best way to help students get out to China. In recent years the price of accommodation in China has significantly increased, but at CSA we can’t and won’t lower the standards of where we are willing to place our students when they sign up for CSA apartments. What we can do is help students out who are on a budget. This might mean they are willing to live in slightly less appealing apartments that we couldn’t usually offer, or even shared apartments with 3 or 4 other people in them. As a way of trying to help out new arrivals in China, we’ve put together a Housing Help options for those straight off the plane.

    How It Works

    Sign up for the "Find An Apartment" option with your CSA Program and we’ll be there at the airport to pick you up on arrival in China as usual. We’ll then take you to whatever hotel or hostel you have booked. If you need advice on where to stay before you arrive, just let us know and we can recommend plenty of good options depending on your budget! We’ll arrange a time to meet up with you over the next day or so to start the housing hunt. You’ll be assigned a CSA staff member who will take you around for the next 2 days acting as your translator and help you contact as many local agents as possible. They will be available for you for two days, each an 8 hour day. After the two days, we’ll have taken you around the area and put you in contact with as many agents as possible so you should be set to go. We’ll still be available after these two days over the phone though if you need any more help.

    Please note that the housing rental system in China is a little different, typically the agents don’t keep the keys so expect long days and a lot of waiting. We advise that you bring a book or something to keep you occupied. Or you can just practice your Mandarin with the CSA staff member to give you a head start before your classes begin!

    Have you already organized your own housing, but are nervous about any issues that may come up? No problem, sign up for our Property Management Package and we'll throw in 24hour phone support for any housing issues you may encounter. We will assist with any problems as they arise and provide assistance to get the problem solved in the quickest and most efficient way.

    Trying to navigate rentals and tenancy in our home countries is hard enough as it is. Tack on a language you aren't fluent in, a foreign system, and different cultural expectations and you're in for a real headache (and the potential for being scammed). Instead of relying on some joe schmoe you found in the local classifieds, let CSA roll up their sleeves and get down to business. We'll help with your billing and setting up your utilities and communicate with your Chinese landlord on your behalf, leaving you with the task of simply moving in and turning your new house into a home.

    What's more, our services don't just stop there - should any issues arise during your stay in China (think: late-night power outages or a broken refrigerator) we've got your back. We'll help you through the thick of it and coordinate with the local servicemen to ensure your needs are met. Let us help you make your life in China a little easier.

    What services are included?

    • 3 full days of apartment hunting with a CSA Staff Member
    • Negotiating rent
    • Negotiating agency fees
    • Signing contracts
    • Police registration 
    • Phone support for your accommodation issues/questions
    • Any maintenance needed (cost covered by student)
    • Help with lost keys
    • Heating/air con issues
    • Help with paying bills
    • Setting up internet/wifi
    • Communication with landlords
    • Any other issues that may arise!

    More information

    Renting in China can be a difficult process for even the most advanced Chinese-foreign language speaker; the intricacies of the system are even more difficult to explain to outsiders. CSA's collective experiences living in China have us prepped and ready to tackle the real-estate scene head-on in your behalf. Or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions!

    Or purchase this package here! (US$500)

    Apply Now Sign up today and let CSA worry about all the hard stuff!

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    Coming to China is a bizarre yet fulfilling experience, no matter how long you plan on spending here it always finds new ways to surprise, delight, excite and sometimes just annoy you. Yet, I found one of the strangest things about China is the day that you come to leave it and the legacy it leaves with you. I have lived in China for the past 18 months, six months in Beijing and 12 in Xi’an, not that long when compared to some of the other foreigners I occasionally bump into, but long enough to really feel part of the place.
    Having spent the entirety of last semester living with a Chinese family in a suburb of Beijing with next to no other foreigners it took me a while to really get acquainted with some of the cultural differences, which divide us. Just as I felt the differences narrowing, there I was with my passport and boarding pass in hand boarding my flight home via the Ukraine (don’t ask).
  •  {fastsocialshare} Customers use computers a 001
    While messing around with my homestay 'brother' the other day during an English class, I began showing him the various hilarious phrases you could get Google to 'autocomplete' based on most popular suggestions once you type in the first part of a statement or question. He suggested doing the same thing, except using China's own version of Google, known as Baidu. After some initially hilarious results, I pitched the idea of making this mind-blowingly random topic into a full-scale blog to my boss David who gave me the go-ahead as long as I could relate it to something vaguely Chinas Study Abroad related.
  • Summer-Study--Travel
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    • 2015 Itinerary

    • Overview

    • Photos

    Check out what the summer of 2015 could have in store for you! For just US$1,900, you can add this comprehensive tour of China to your study program in Beijing or Shanghai! Travel the Middle Kingdom the CSA way and get a summer experience you will never forget!


    groupgreatwall edit1

    The fun begins! Shanghai students arrive to Beijing and you get to meet your travelling companions over a tasty Chinese dinner.

    Start the travel portion of your program with THE must-see attraction of Beijing. Wear your sneakers and comfy clothes, we are hiking along the Great Wall of China! After we get back and freshen up, we'll head to the sprawling imperial gardens of the Summer Palace. Wrap up day one with a delicious Beijing (Peking) duck dinner.

    Step back into history with a trip to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. We will also climb Jingshan Park for an incredible view of the imperial palace from a bird's eye view. This will be followed by a rickshaw tour of the ancient hutongs (narrow alley) to see how Beijing people lived, and are still living! Enjoy dinner with a local family, and then we'll catch a Chinese Acrobatics show to end the day.

    Take the morning to explore the cultural city of Beijing and make sure you get to see your favourite hot spots, whether it's haggling in the markets, testing your speed in the Olympic Village or exploring the various exhibitions at 798 Art District. In the evening we will depart Beijing on the overnight train to Xi’an. Be sure to pack some snacks and entertainment for the journey!

    beijingforbiddencity edit1

    MON 27 JULY - XI’AN
    Arrive in Xi’an bright and early! After check-in, get ready for a day of sightseeing! Make sure to take your camera as we visit the impressive Terracotta Warriors and learn about how and why they were built. In the evening we will make our way to the Big Goose Pagoda to watch water dance at the fountain display.

    TUES 28 JULY - XI’AN
    Another big day ahead! Visit the Drum and Bell Towers and the Great Mosque in the Muslim Quarter before we make our way to the Old City Wall. Here we will cycle around the wall to view the ancient city from above. We then make our way to the airport to depart for the next destination, Yangshuo.

    Today is all about outdoor adventure. Take a cruise along the Li River, and spend some time biking through the Yangshuo countryside. After lunch, spend the afternoon exploring a range of options in the Yangshuo area: visiting caves, hiking or even swimming in the river! After dinner, we will take a boat ride to watch cormorant fishers.

    Time for some climbing as we hike around Moon Hill, a hill with a semicircular hole through the middle! Experience some incredible panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from the peak of the mountain. After the hike you have the option to do any additional activities that you may not have been able to squeeze in the day before.


    Today is all about rice! We will travel to the incredible rice fields of Longji and see how they have been built in to terraces on the side of mountains. The terraces are also known as the "Dragon's Back" due to their scaly appearance. After lunch in the mountains, we will then move on to the beautiful water town of Suzhou.

    Explore the city's beautiful canals, stone bridges, pagodas and gardens. It's called the "Venice of the East" for good reason! In the evening we will take the short trip to Shanghai to see Nanjing Road and cruise down the Huangpu River for a spectacular scene of The Bund at night. Phew, big day!

    Start the day with a brief history of Shanghai at the Urban Planning Museum. After we will climb the tallest building in Shanghai, the World Financial Centre, to get an incredible view through glass floors of the cosmopolitan area of Pudong! You will then have some free time to shop-til-you-drop at the vast markets. In the evening we will get together one last time for a big group dinner before we wave each other off and say 'zaijian'.

    This is the recommended date to travel home. If you are flying from Beijing, we will be taking an early morning bullet train to Beijing which should arrive by 3pm. Alternatively you can fly home directly from Shanghai. The alternative is to start your language program after your travel program! Ask us for course options!


    Apply Now Sign up for a CSA program with a friend and you both receive a 5% discount!

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    Summer Study and Travel Program 2015

    China study abroad summer porgramsSummer holidays are never as long as you would like them to be, so the key is doing as much as possible to make your summer fun, memorable and constructive!

    If you are looking to combine Chinese language learning with a fun and experience-filled trip around China, then our Summer Study and Travel program may be the answer.

    Learning the Chinese language is but scratching the surface of China's culture and history. China is vast and diverse and so our Summer Study in China Programs are specially designed to combine first-class Mandarin learning courses with insightful and fun-filled travel at some of China’s most renowned and beautiful destinations.

    Our Summer Study and Travel programs are split into two parts: the study and the travel.

    1. First, choose where you would like to study Chinese. We offer programs in both Beijing, at Beijing Language and Culture University or Beijing Mandarin Academy, and in Shanghai, at Fudan University or Shanghai Mandarin Academy.
    2. Then choose whether you would like to study before or after your travels.

    It’s as simple as that!

    DSC_0085-SST-Guilin_edit1China Study Abroad summer programs are designed to give you the best possible insight into everything China has to offer.

    The travel portion covers some of China’s most famous destinations including Xi’an (home of the Terracotta Warriors) and Guilin (famous for its mountains and rivers, and widely acknowledged as China’s most beautiful and scenic area).

    The group will also travel to both Beijing and Shanghai, meaning that regardless of where you choose to undertake the study portion of your program, you will get to experience both of China’s most famous and prominent cities.

    *Programs in July and August are open to students who are 15 and over. 


    Apply Now Sign up for a CSA program with a friend and you both receive a 5% discount!

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  • dream
    Walk down any street, get on any subway, read any newspaper, and in China today all there seems to be is 梦, 中国梦, 中国梦. You would think it was the Chinese characters for iPhone 6 the way it seems to penetrate the public space so comprehensively. But no, 中国梦 (zhōngguómèng) or ‘Chinese Dream’ is actually just the latest version of socialism with Chinese characteristics; the new iPhone Xi, totally different from the previous version that existed last year, we promise.
  • real beijing

    (or at least what is outside of Wudaokou….)

    On numerous times I have heard fellow classmates tell me that they are heading home soon and in their whole time here they haven’t done anything except for activities based in Wudaokou.

    Alarm bells go off in my head! I think to myself…. your about to leave a country that has thousands of years of history without experiencing one single cultural or historical site? Wow!

    Many people don’t seem to realise what an opportunity they have when they come to Beijing to experience something that will be unlike anything else they can experience in the world.

  • fast foodComing to China can be a little bit daunting but also exciting as you travel in to the unknown. Most people do a bit of research before they take their flight to prepare themselves for what to expect. We have learned that China is nothing like what people expect! Read about what I learned after my arrrival and a few things I wish I knew before I studied abroad in China!. Be sure to read part oneof my two-part reflection!





  • Warriors.495x245

    Why not come to China to study Mandarin and then use your skills to see this amazing country. We can help you plan your trip so that you will have an opportunity to travel to some of the ancient wonders of the world, as well as some cities that most people have never heard of! 

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  • Lilian-Chiu.Scholarship


    Upon boarding my final flight from Toronto to Tianjin, I could already start to visualize my adventures in this new and unfamiliar country. Although being of Chinese decent, it’s quite unfortunate that I never picked up Mandarin as a child. Sticking with English growing up was just the most convenient in a household with 6 collective languages. As I eagerly wait for my long journey to China to begin, the stewardess pleasantly making the rounds approached me and cheerfully said something to me in Mandarin. After a long pause and a blank gaze on my end and a confused look on hers, I realized being a *Huayi in China would be quite the experience.

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    Texting using cellphone smartphone jpg
    When I first came to China last year, I quickly discovered that smartphone apps could make life a lot easier. Everything from communicating with my homestay mother to watching foreign TV shows is made possible with the right apps. Here are some of the best apps to get if you’re new to China.
  • Teaching in China offers great rewards

    Experience more than just the language by taking part in China Study Abroad's Volunteering program. While studying the language you will also have montly weekend trips to rural locations throughout China as well as helping out at a local Beijing orphanage. Designed to help you get the most out of your time in China! 

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  • Emma-Wallace.Scholarship


    By a way of quick introduction, my name is Emma Wallace, I’m from the Gold Coast in Australia and I have recently been awarded with the China Study Abroad (CSA) summer scholarship. I leave this Friday 1 August for a month of intensive Mandarin at Beijing Mandarin Academy (BMA). As part of my trip back to China I will be writing a series of blogs for CSA, so I hope that you find them enjoyable, inspiring and most importantly helpful and informative! For those of you that are considering coming to China to study Mandarin, all I can say is do it, do it, do it.

  • 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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