Beijing Daxue, colloquially known as Beida, perhaps stands as the most prestigious university in all of China, Tsinghua university is really the only other contender. Studying in this university really exposes you to the smartest students of China and perhaps the world. As I type away my testimonial in the Beida library, I can see students huddled up into books as it were a scourge. Out of 1.3 billion people, the best of the best make it to this university every year after taking the dreaded standardized national exam known as the gaokao. You will meet people from all over China, coming in all forms of extremes. In one end of the spectrum, you will meet phenomenal individuals who can play 4 different instruments, speak 5 different languages, be the captain of a basketball team while doing an internship and studying full time. I have met people like this. Others will be too socially introverted to even look at you in the eyes, but ferociously intelligent. Some of these people come from extreme poverty and have never even left China and yet are so accomplished in so many fields. Being in their presences is both a humbling and a learning experience.   This is the wonder of coming to Beijing to study, in an environment where out of depths of poverty have risen such brilliant people.  

If you are going to Peking University to study Chinese like I did, my top tip for you is to try to make Chinese friends by joining university student societies. There will be many stands around the campus. Don’t fall into the trap of speaking English most of your time here, Beijing is an international city and thus very easy to hang around foreigners.

For anyone coming to China in general, the administration process and the bureaucracy is painfully frustrating. Anything from the visa process to accommodation will be a pain. Not knowing any Chinese will work against you and none of the locals really speak English here. Travel as much as you can but make sure not to skip too many classes either as too many absences means you cannot get credit for a course. There is a delicate balance to achieve here, travelling during national holidays is something you don’t want to do. Millions of other Chinese people will be travelling and that means no vacant seats on airplanes or trains and all travel destinations will be overcrowded.

If you want to expand your social circle and in the business of networking, join the Australia China Youth Association (ACYA). They have branches in Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing. It will give you a platform to socialize and meet other Aussies who are in China either working or studying. It was through these spectrums that I met so many accomplished people. Finally on top of this try to get as much out of your experience as you can and remember to have fun. Beijing is a big city and I am sure you will find something that will interest you.

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