UQ Program: Bachelor of Arts

I can guarantee that if you do an exchange in China, you will be shocked, calmed, sick, well, stared at, ignored, amazed, disgusted and challenged – but most of all rewarded. If you are looking for a unique experience, China is definitely for you. It is also changing rapidly so I recommend going sooner rather than later.

China is a typical Asian country in the sense that living expenses are low, so it is also a great destination to get to when young. At least three times a week I have a massive dinner of wontons, two beers and a red bean dumpling dessert for just over five bucks. Public transport and taxis are also really cheap, and most attractions have student tickets at half price. The most expensive thing about China is getting there – once you arrive there aren’t too many financial worries.

Travelling is absolutely necessary for a real understanding of the country, simply because it is so big! This is obviously one of the attractions, though - in the north there are Russian and Korean towns, the east coast is typical big-city life, the west is full of nomads and yaks, and the south is so obviously influenced by the more south-east Asian countries like Vietnam and Cambodia. It is amazingly easy to get everywhere by train, and the natural wonders of China are just as impressive as their human-made counterparts. The changes in weather alone make you feel like you have been to several different countries. Everything in China is extreme. In every way.

I also learnt just as much (if not more) Mandarin from travelling for a week, as I did in classes for a week. Chinese people love laughing at you trying to practice your mad language skills with them. Approach with a smile and patience, and good times will be had by all. Talking with taxi drivers and street food chefs is just as good as studying with a textbook. Classes are difficult and very much resemble a return to highschool-natured learning. Attendance is counted and required to pass, and homework is set and checked. At first this might seem very patronising and unnecessary, especially because they use public embarrassment as punishment for getting answers wrong. After a few months though, you come to terms with the different approach to academics and just stop taking yourself so seriously. It is certainly a humbling country.

If you want cheesecake or pizza – go to Ciao Café. If you want to get hammered and meet awesome strangers – go to Helen’s. If you want books – go downtown. If you want home stuff – go to Walmart. If you want groceries – go anywhere except Walmart.

If you want to be an awesome person who generally rocks at life and wins at everything forever – go to China. Its hardcore.
 

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