UQ Program: Commerce (finance)/ Arts (Chinese)

Houhai HutongNi Hao!
Now, I won’t write about how unforgettable and invaluable my exchange has been so far, as I’m sure most of you already know how rewarding an exchange can be. Instead, I thought I’d give a few tips/ necessary warnings.

Peking University 2010 Culture festival (I was the leader of Australia, far right)The day I checked in to the room at the Peking University dorms was the day I found out I received a Peking University scholarship, which meant I got free accommodation. I was really surprised, and thought it was fantastic, until I found out it was a shared room with communal bathrooms (squat toilets)/showers. ‘No, no, no’ was pretty much the first thing that came out of my mouth...and I tried negotiating with the workers, saying I’d forfeit the scholarship and pay for my own single room. They wouldn’t let me, and so I was stuck with the shared room...which actually freaked me out. I’ve never had to share a room before. But, when I settled in, I tried adding homey touches to it. I bought a new fridge (1 metre high) for AUS$180, brought my own bed sheets from Australia, bought a new rice cooker (AU$17) and I even bought Tupperware, oh, and a purple electric scooter. I soon got over the shared room thing..and realised I could have it a lot worse (my dorms are brand new, and some others got assigned to much older dorms). Bottom line-don’t get too hung up on accommodation. As long as you find something close to uni then you’ll be fine.

Phoenix Mountain Climb (I’m in front with white sneakers)When I got my letter of acceptance to PKU I was expecting it to say I got accepted into the Chinese program and the Business School, however it only said ‘Chinese program’. Turns out when filling in the online form for PKU, I forgot to tick the ‘Business School’ box, which meant I was going to do a whole semester of Arts courses and fall behind with my Commerce subjects. Because of this, I’ve decided to extend my exchange, and study an extra semester at PKU, in the Business School (Guanghua School of Management) in 2011, semester 1. It’s important you read all the forms properly, and don’t miss anything, as it could result in you falling behind in your degree.

798 Art districtOne more thing- if you don’t get into the ‘top’ university in that country, or the one all your friends are going to, don’t worry, it’s probably a good thing. I found that living in China’s capital hasn’t given me the best opportunities to practise my Chinese. 95% of my friends are international students, and I only speak Chinese in Class. If your main goal is to learn the language, I encourage you to go to a smaller city, where you’ll have less foreign friends, and more natives around you.

For those who can’t decide between Asia and Europe- I probably spent half the amount of money my brother did (he went to Copenhagen for exchange the same semester), so I didn’t really need to budget.

Lastly, take photos AND videos. Wear a helmet if you buy a scooter. Make sure Skype works on your computer (as you’ll get extremely homesick at times). Watch your belongings (lots of theft at shops/ clubs/ streets). Check that your visa allows part time work. And check your luggage weight when coming back! (I was 11 kilos over, which was AUS$300 extra)

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