UQ Program: Bachelor of Arts

The Great Wall of ChinaDuring my study of Chinese at Peking University, I learnt an idiom that probably comes closest to describing Beijing: 五花八门 (wuhuabamen). It means “of a wide or rich variety”, and that certainly is Beijing – a city full of contradictions. Beijing is strikingly communist in parts but ruthlessly entrepreneurial and capitalist in others; it’s beautiful, green and clear on some days but apocalyptically polluted on others; it has the Gobi heat in summer but the Siberian freeze in winter, with a leafy Autumn and Spring in between; it’s everything Chinese and everything Western; it’s intense and filled with 热闹 (renao, hustle and bustle) yet full of peaceful oasis’s; it exudes wealth and materialism in some but confronting poverty in others; it is a city of boundless opportunity but also repressive paranoia; it has a phenomenal web of subway lines underground but traffic jams that paralyse intersections above ground; it has ancient odes to its dynastical and hutong eras juxtaposed against cutting edge, world famous architecture. It is Beijing – the political and cultural heart of a country which will probably shape the future not only of the Asia-Pacific, but the whole world. All these things create an amazing sense of excitement and intensity which is ideal to study in. Beijing National Stadium - the Bird's Nest

I studied at Peking University to complete my extended major in Chinese. I had 18 hours of class a week and my classes were all with other foreign students. I was lucky enough to live in the new foreign students building (中观新园). Peking University is located in the Wudaokou (五道口)university area, hence a lot of partying and foreigners from every corner of the world to meet.

I soon discovered it is important to occasionally detach yourself from Beijing as the lifestyle is so intense – the studying, the networking, the socialising, the weather, the travelling and of course living in a city with a population equal to Australia’s only adds to the renao.

Studying at (arguably) China’s premier university is a truly phenomenal opportunity to improve your Chinese, gain a greater understanding of the Chinese culture and people, and to meet many a like minded foreigner. Most of all though, living in Beijing and studying at Peking University is a lot of fun!

Tiananmen SquareTop 5 Tips
1. ‘Live’ in China. If you spend all your time in Wudaokou or Sanlitun (ex-pat embassy area), you won’t get a good taste of Chinese culture.
2. Make some Chinese friends – great way to improve your Chinese and appreciate the culture as it is often hard to get out of the foreigners circle.
3. Escape – it is still good however to detach yourself from Beijing as it is so intense! Getting the balance between being in and out of your comfort zone is important. 
4. Join the Australia-China Youth Association – invaluable networking and pastoral support tool. See the website at www.acya.org.au.
5. Travel outside Beijing – most tourists who come to China only go to Beijing, Shanghai or Xian. You won’t get a full perspective on China until you see that it is a developing country. Take the train – it’s cheap and you’ll see a lot more!

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