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“This was the best Mandarin language program I have been in. Bravo!”
– Kimberly Fong, Smith College
“I love the program! It is great. Especially since we have such small classes, we are able to take advantage of the full learning experience. Very well organized program!” – Maria Jose Trevino, Trinity University
The Intensive Chinese Language program is for students who want to focus on learning Chinese. All students are required to commit to a Chinese language pledge throughout the term. In addition to 20 class hours per week of Chinese language coursework, students may enroll in the English-taught course, Issues in Contemporary Society and Culture. Students who wish to participate in the Intensive Language program must have completed two semesters of college level Chinese. Students may enroll for a semester, summer, or academic year, or a combination of a semester and summer term. Students are encouraged to consider spending their second term in China in a different Alliance program to deepen their knowledge of China's regional diversity.
Meet our on-site staff members!
Students are required to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and to be enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at an accredited U.S. institution. Students in the Intensive Language Track must have completed two semesters of prior Chinese Language study. Students are required to take a curriculum of intensive Chinese language and have the option to take the English-taught area studies courses. Students' placement in the Chinese language course will be contingent upon the results of a placement exam after arrival in China. In the fall and spring terms, students receive 15-18 credits. In the summer term, students receive 9 credits.
Classes are offered exclusively for Alliance students. Chinese language classes average 6-8 students per class, taught by language faculty selected and trained by the Alliance. Area studies courses are taught by a PhD faculty member from Shanghai's top universities.
Shanghai offers students an unparalleled opportunity to experience China in a city undergoing economic rebirth and revitalization. Shanghai is the place to be to witness the economic and socio-cultural transformations of modern China (as well as to observe the disparities that remain). Shanghai has traditionally been one of the most important financial and business centers of Asia, and is becoming known as "the Wall Street of the East". After the Second World War and the establishment of the People's Republic of China, foreign investment was discouraged. Today, however, Shanghai is again a multinational hub of finance and business and one of the world's major financial centers.
Check out this interactive map of the Alliance's resources across Shanghai:
View Alliance On Location: Shanghai in a larger map.
Shanghai is a remarkable phenomenon in the evolution of global metropolises today. There is no place like this once sleepy fishing town which has become the largest city in China and the country's most important commercial, financial, and industrial center. One must experience Shanghai to begin to comprehend this diverse and constantly changing nation. Pudong (in eastern Shanghai) was the site of the 2010 World Expo. The entire city is still buzzing with excitement about welcoming 73 million domestic and international visitors.
The campus neighbourhood, located directly within the center of Shanghai’s university district, is lined with numerous small shops and restaurants to serve the transient student population. Within two blocks of student housing, you can find many small shops and cafes as well as the cuisines of Xinjiang, Hunan, Sichuan, Korea, Japan, Mexico, the U.S.A., and more.
Just a short distance from campus is Wujiaochang (五角场), a long-standing commercial node that has undergone a dramatic makeover in recent years. Today you will find two large shopping malls with scores of shops and restaurants of all kinds, including electronics, books, clothing, a movie theater, KTV, numerous bakeries, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Watson’s, and a Shanghai No. 1 Food Mart. You’ll also find H&M, Haagen Daz, and Sephora all in a row, as well as The Bank of China, ICBC, and ATM machines for China Construction Bank, Merchants Bank, and others. While lacking in student hangouts and cultural activities this neighborhood is not, at Wujiaochang students can easily catch metro line 10 downtown to experience the rest of what this exciting metropolis has to offer.
The Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (上海财经大学), founded in 1917, is a multi-dimensional university with a core focus on applied economics and management and offering majors in law, philosophy, as well as humanities. SUFE, home to 24,000 students on two campuses, is administered by the Chinese Ministry of Education and has recently been selected as one of the "21st Century's Key Universities in China." It is the number one ranked finance and economics university in China.
The intensive language program offers coursework for students who wish to focus on learning Chinese. In addition to 20 class hours per week of Chinese language, students may opt to take one course in English on Chinese Society in the 21st Century. As a prerequisite, students must have completed two (2) semesters of prior Chinese language study.
“I am enjoying it incredibly. I am absolutely enamored with each and every professor – they are all dedicated, personable, and genuinely want to help us improve our Chinese. At least as far as the Intensive professors go, I'm not sure I've ever been in a situation where each professor was so incredibly great. I have nothing but good things to say about them.” – Augustine Hosch, University of the South
Chinese Language (required, 20 class hours/week, 15 credits)
Upon taking a placement exam after arrival, students will be placed into the appropriate language level. Courses emphasize listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Alliance programs teach Simplified Chinese Characters, which are standardized Chinese characters officially used in mainland China as well as Singapore, as opposed to Traditional Chinese Characters, which at present are more commonly used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.
SOCI260 Chinese Society in the 21st Century (3 class hours/week, 3 credits)
This course examines the transformation in Chinese society since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 with emphasis on the changes brought about in the wake of the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s. Topics will include the developments in urban and rural social transformation introduced by the reforms, the changing relationship between the individual and society, the urban/rural divide, and population control and the one child policy. Students will explore the social consequences of China's rapid integration into the global economy. All students will complete a Capstone Project as part of this course.
The intensive language program is best suited for students who wish to focus on learning Chinese. In the summer term, students take 21 class hours per week of Chinese language, allowing them to focus on language acquisition. Students do not take courses in English or participate in the Capstone Project. Students participate in a wide range of activities as well as the Field Study Trip with students in the 21st Century City program. As a prerequisite, students must have completed two semesters of prior Chinese language study.
Students receive 9 language credits for this summer program. The summer program is 8 weeks long, with 7 weeks of instruction.
Chinese Language (required, 21 class hours/week, 9 credits)
Upon taking a placement exam after arrival, students will be placed into the appropriate language level. All courses teach listening, speaking, reading, and writing and include opportunities for practical language application outside the classroom. The Alliance programs teach Simplified Chinese Characters, which are standardized Chinese characters officially used in mainland China and Singapore, as opposed to Traditional Chinese Characters, which at present are more commonly used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.
One important and distinctive component of Alliance programs in China is the Capstone Academic Research Project. Capstone projects challenge students to engage with Chinese people and deepen their own understanding of one aspect of Chinese policy, society, culture, or business practice. Within the Intensive Language program, only semester students choosing to enroll in the optional 3-credit elective course will be required to complete a Capstone Project.
The Capstone Project is a research project that makes use of more than academic readings and published research. While these are important components of research and should be included in the project, the Capstone is meant to help students take advantage of their setting. Students use resources they would not have access to at their home universities. Students also incorporate interviews, participant observation, and other methods to create a final paper and presentation. Many students develop their Capstone as part of a senior thesis or broader future research project.
The Capstone Project is a graded component of the optional course taught in English, Issues in Contemporary Society and Culture. The Capstone Research Project comprises 40% of the grade for this course. Graded project work includes a project abstract with a problem statement and research methodology outline, a PowerPoint presentation, and a final paper.
For more Capstone project ideas from Alliance students in all our China programs, click here.
My goal is to research the Chinese music from 1949 to the present day that was and is used to support the communist movement. I would like to focus more specifically on ethnic minority music that was used to unify and strengthen the People’s Republic of China. I know that folk songs were taken from Han Chinese culture as well as minority cultures and adapted to support the communist ideals and strengthen the spirit of nationality. I want to study these folk songs and other music forms more closely, learning their original as well as the arranged versions. I also want to study the traditional music of Han and minority groups that was used for communist support.
To read more abstracts of Alliance students' capstones, click here.
A study abroad experience is first and foremost an academic experience, and the Alliance for Global Education takes the process of credit and grade conversion seriously.
The Alliance provides information on credit transfer and conversion at the time that a student chooses courses. Credit appears on transcripts issued by Arcadia University at the completion of a student's term of study abroad. Credit is issued in U.S. semester hours, ensuring that students continue to make progress toward their degrees and verifying the full-time academic load a student carries while abroad.
All Alliance courses have been reviewed and approved by Arcadia University’s Undergraduate Academic Programs Committee. Arcadia University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Any grades that appear on an Arcadia transcript must meet Middle States' standards.
Students receive a letter grade on a scale from A to F for every course they take while enrolled on an Alliance program. Although policies at students' individual home institutions may differ, the Alliance does not permit students to take courses on a credit/no credit basis. Student grades are determined by criteria set forth in course syllabi. As noted above, all Alliance courses are reviewed and approved by Arcadia University’s Undergraduate Academic Programs Committee. Arcadia University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
At the conclusion of a program, the College of Global Studies at Arcadia University sends an official Arcadia University transcript to a participant's home school and an unofficial copy to the participant.
Because universities abroad have different administrative structures, transcripts may take longer to issue than they do at U.S. institutions. While the timeline varies by program, a general timeline for issuing transcripts is:
If you have a question about the process, please feel free to contact your program manager responsible.
Please note: Transcripts are not released for students with an outstanding balance due to program fees. Students enrolling in consecutive terms with the Alliance do not receive their first term transcript until their second term fees are paid in full.
The Alliance Orientation is MANDATORY. You should make your travel plans accordingly. More details can be found in the Accepted Students: Travel Arrangements section.
Given the program’s busy academic schedule, weekly local activities and excursions, and field study trips, the Alliance STRONGLY DISCOURAGES students from hosting visitors until the end of the semester. Please encourage family and/or friends to visit AFTER the program has ended.
|Summer 2013 Program||$ 7,100|
|Fall 2013 Program||$ 14,200|
|Spring 2014 Program||$ 14,690|
The program cost includes tuition and fees, pre-departure materials, guidance with applying for a visa, orientation, housing, weekly activities, all textbooks, the services of a full-time Resident Director, medical and evacuation insurance, a one-week Field Study Trip and a weekend Field Study Trip in the fall and spring semester, and a five-day Field Study Trip in the summer term.
The program price does not include airfare to China, meals, passport and visa fees, independent travel, and other items not mentioned as included.
Please click here for a breakdown of spring 2014 program fees, and an itemized list of additional expenses that students will encounter while abroad.
The Alliance encourages students to enroll for more than one term and to consider studying with more than one Alliance program. Some students choose to spend fall term in one location and spring term in another. Others continue in our summer term after completing spring.
Students who continue into a second term with the Alliance receive a $500 discount on the program fee for the second term. All combinations (two semesters, semester plus summer, two semesters plus summer) are possible.
Students are housed in Tonghe International Apartments across the street from the north gate of the university and a 10-15 minute walk from Alliance classrooms. The two bedroom apartments are shared by one Alliance student and one Chinese roommate, while three bedroom apartments are shared by two Alliance students and one Chinese roommate. The apartments include a bathroom, kitchen, and furnished bedrooms with desk, desk lamp, closet space, and a remote control heating/air-conditioning unit. The bedrooms also include sheets, pillows, and a comforter. Towels are not provided. The furnished common areas include a TV, filtered water dispenser, refrigerator, stove-top gas burners or a hotplate in the kitchen, and a balcony. Some apartments also have a small washing machine. Filtered water is replenished at student expense (12 RMB/$1.80 per tank) with the help of the Tonghe front desk staff. Please note that no kitchen utensils or other supplies are provided. During orientation all students are required to pay a 500 RMB (approximately $74 US dollars) housing deposit. If there is no damage to the room at the end of the program, this deposit will be refunded in full.
A distinct feature of the Intensive Language program is the opportunity to share an apartment with a Chinese college student. Each apartment will house one or two Alliance students in single rooms and one Chinese student, also in a single room. This offers the opportunity for Alliance students to get to know Chinese students quickly and to engage in campus life and language and cultural exchange with their new friends. Chinese roommates are invited to attend many of the organized activities. Former Alliance students consistently rate this experience as one of their favorite program features.
Meals are not included in the Alliance program fee. Students should budget approximately $10 per day for meals. Students may cook in their apartment kitchen or may take their meals at one of the cafeterias on campus. There are also numerous restaurants nearby.
Vegetarians will find that good food is available in China. Most restaurants serve lots of vegetables, tofu dishes, and staples such as rice, noodles, or dumplings. Note that some restaurants may use animal fat in preparing dishes.
Throughout the semester, students are invited to take part in a full schedule of excursions, events and lectures - all designed to enhance their understanding of China and the historical and modern influences that impact its culture and people.
The Alliance also arranges extracurricular classes which may include Chinese painting, calligraphy, cooking, Taiji or other martial arts, seal carving, or paper cutting. These classes offer a wonderful opportunity to learn more about traditional Chinese culture.
Shanghai program students will visit the famous Yuyuan Park, the historic Bund along the Huangpu River, and the former French concession. Activities may include cultural performances, museum visits, special lectures, visits to artists' studios, architectural walking tours, and many opportunities to meet locals, including students from other campuses.
The Chinese Lantern Festival marks the end of Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). People usually celebrate with colorful lanterns, glutinous rice dumplings (tang yuan) and riddles.
The story is adapted from a famous classical Chinese novel and is an example of how the spiritual world often plays a role in the lives of the Chinese.
The art center exhibits selected propaganda posters displayed across China from 1949 to 1979. Founder and owner Mr. Yang Peiming hosts the tour of the facilities and provides an introduction to his poster collection.
Students learn about Shanghai’s history and development and its ambitious plans for the future.
A site visit to the largest iron and steel conglomerate in China. Baosteel is the sixth-largest steel producer in the world with revenues of $21.5 billion.
This type of opera has a history of about 800 years and was derived from a kind of story-singing. At first, it was performed with a small drum and hardwood clappers for rhythm and later, choral and orchestral accompaniment was added.
The excursion is led by the Fudan instructors of the "Issues in Contemporary Society and Culture" and "Contemporary Chinese Politics" courses. Students are encouraged to consider questions about tradition, modernization, and history and to pay attention to the ironies of their setting. Students are also asked to situate "Chinese culture" into a historical context of encountering the west.
Shao Jing, author of a very powerful academic article on the politics of HIV / AIDS and the value of bodies under a neoliberal regime, speaks to the Society and Culture class. Shao Jing completed his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago and is now a professor at Nanjing University. Simon Tang, Office Director of the Chi Heng Foundation, also speaks on the work of the Foundation with children affected by AIDS in China.
“My Shanghai” is an exhibit showcasing photographs taken by sixth grade students from Jin Hu Primary School.
Acrobatics is a pearl in the treasure house of the traditional Chinese performing arts and has existed in China for more than two thousand years.
A contemporary drama directed by Wei Wu about recent university graduates seeking jobs.
Students visit classrooms in small groups and communicate with migrant students in Chinese to understand their experiences.
Students are divided into four groups to compete in singing Chinese songs.
Participants of this activity get a detailed picture of how an environmental NGO works in Shanghai. Some students have even begun volunteering for Roots and Shoots programs.
Each semester, students participate in a Chinese cooking contest organized by the Chinese language teachers. The teachers take their groups shopping and then each group prepares their favorite dishes.
Students go from room to room, where they learn calligraphy, the Chinese equivalent of the game Mafia, Chinese chess, basic phrases in Shanghai dialect and other cultural activities.
The Alliance organizes a one-week field study trip for students during the fall and spring semesters and a five-day field study trip during the summer term. Destinations may vary but usually include Yunnan or Qinghai province. Through exposure to China’s social, economic, and geographic diversity, as well as regional and ethnic inflections to the Chinese language that has been a focus of their studies, students gain a richly textured sense of the many realities that exist within China.
Yunnan province in southwestern China offers China's most diverse ethnic minority population, stunning scenery, and a rich history. Students gain deep insight into Yunnan's local culture and artistic heritage. They have the opportunity to experience urban life in Kunming, visit small Yi and Miao minority villages, and hike in the gorgeous, mountainous areas of this province. Participants of the trip may also explore the great natural beauty of the Stone Forest, the rain forest of Xishuangbanna, or participate in an extensive encounter with the Bai minority culture in the ancient town of Dali.
Located on the Tibetan Plateau, Qinghai is considered one of the most beautiful regions in China. Students may visit Ta'er Monastery, one of the six most famous Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world, travel to Qinghai Lake, the largest salt water lake in China and one of China’s best bird watching sites, or explore the ancient tombs of Liuwan. Students behold the breathtaking scenery, witness the contrast in development in the region versus the coast, and gain a deeper understanding of Qinghai’s minority nationalities.
The location of the five-day summer field study trip varies each year. In the past, summer Shanghai students have visited the historical and cultural sites of Beijing.
How do Alliance program graduates look back on their experience studying in Asia? What advice can they offer on making the most of your time abroad? Contact these students to ask your questions!
hideNow I am back at GWU for my final year here, during which I really hope to help promote Alliance, as studying with the program was such a spectacular experience for me.
hideWhile ajoring in international relations and
Hey everyone! Although my major is marketing, I have a huge interest in both Chinese language and culture. This stemmed from taking international business courses that continually stressed the importance of the Chinese economy in the future...read more
Hey everyone! Although my major is marketing, I have a huge interest in both Chinese language and culture. This stemmed from taking international business courses that continually stressed the importance of the Chinese economy in the future. Last summer I studied abroad in Shanghai and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only did my language skills increase exponentially, but I gained a unique perspective that I'll carry with me the rest of my life. It left such an impression on me that I went back this summer for a marketing internship with my university! hide
Ni Hao! My name is Lexi McIsaac and I am currently a junior at Bryant University majoring in Accounting and concentrating in Chinese Language. Honestly before college, the extent of my knowledge about Chinese culture was chopsticks. Now I have traveled...read more
Ni Hao! My name is Lexi McIsaac and I am currently a junior at Bryant University majoring in Accounting and concentrating in Chinese Language. Honestly before college, the extent of my knowledge about Chinese culture was chopsticks. Now I have traveled to more than a dozen cities all across China- more than I have been to in the US.
Before going to China, my parents’ biggest concern was that I would stand out too much. I am blonde and blue eyed and did get quite the attention in China. During my first weeks, I felt almost like a celebrity having people stare, point, and even ask me to take pictures. But by the end of the program I barely noticed it and felt it was a great conversation starter to practice Chinese.
Another great memory of living in Shanghai was the convenience store owner by our apartment. I must have frequented it at least 3 times a day. The man was so friendly, always smiling and saying hello. By the end of the semester he was asking about my day and even coyly practicing English words when I bought things.
Studying abroad in Shanghai was both the best and most challenging experience I have ever had. I learned so much about Chinese culture, met so many great people, and even learned a lot about myself. I was given the opportunity to accomplish a capstone paper on expatriate tax in China which not only made me more interested in business opportunities in China, but proved to myself I was capable of some pretty intellectual research.
I would love to speak to anyone who has any questions about my experiences, travels, or just some advice on the program. hide
Hey, my name is Danny Gleason (葛丹宁) and I am currently a junior at Boston College pursuing a Theology major, Chinese minor, and a pre-med concentration. For the first two years of college, I had come to terms with the fact that I was going through with...read more
Hey, my name is Danny Gleason (葛丹宁) and I am currently a junior at Boston College pursuing a Theology major, Chinese minor, and a pre-med concentration. For the first two years of college, I had come to terms with the fact that I was going through with my Chinese minor as an excuse to “go abroad.” It was my ticket to live in a different country, learn about the culture, experience the people and come back a newer, wiser, worldlier person. Now, after 4 months of living in Shanghai and going to school at Fudan University, I can say with every fiber of my being that my semester in China was everything I imagined and more. I will go out on a limb here and say that besides maybe infancy, my time living in Shanghai represents the period of life when I have changed the most… for the better. Though at times it is hard to express the momentousness of my life-changing experience to others, it is something that I can assure you goes way beyond language acquisition. Please do not hesitate to email me if you have any questions, comments, or concerns about China or study abroad in general! My newfound passion for China and studying abroad makes it so that you will actually be doing me a favor if you email me. I am so confident that if you challenge yourself and take the leap to China for a few months, you will never regret it! 再见！ hide
Hi my name is Andrew Ameter and I'm a junior at Ohio State University. Although my major is marketing, I have a huge interest in both Chinese language and culture. This stemmed from taking international business courses that continually...read more
Hi my name is Andrew Ameter and I'm a junior at Ohio State University. Although my major is marketing, I have a huge interest in both Chinese language and culture. This stemmed from taking international business courses that continually stressed the importance of the Chinese economy in the future. Last summer I studied abroad in Shanghai and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only did my language skills increase exponentially, but I gained a unique perspective that I'll carry with me the rest of my life. Now that I'm back in Columbus, Ohio, I miss all the people and experiences I encountered, but I know I have a whole lifetime ahead of me to continue expanding my boundaries. hide
Hey! My name is Gian Gozum, and I took part in the Contemporary Chinese Society and Language Program in the spring of 2011. I am a senior majoring in Asian Studies and International Trade and Economics. I took about five semesters of Mandarin Chinese...read more
Hey! My name is Gian Gozum, and I took part in the Contemporary Chinese Society and Language Program in the spring of 2011. I am a senior majoring in Asian Studies and International Trade and Economics. I took about five semesters of Mandarin Chinese before going to Shanghai. Within just two weeks of living in China, I could already tell that my Chinese had improved. I got used to thinking, listening, and speaking in Chinese. Several moments in my semester confirmed that I had improved. One was during a conversation with a taxi driver. He was taking me all the way to the other end of town, and in that drive we discussed my Filipino heritage, the Chinese populations in the Philippines, the origins of his parents, and last but not least, the NBA Playoffs!
Travelling throughout China was such an amazing experience. Each province was like visiting a different country because of the regional dialects and accents, which make communication even more interesting! The Alliance trip to Yunnan province was phenomenal, where we learned much about the ethnic minorities. During my independent travel, I went to the mountainous Sichuan province with some friends, and we learned a lot about Tibetan culture and ate a lot of spicy food!
My trip to Shanghai ranks in one of my most amazing experiences. I made wonderful friends who I am certain I will see again. I am forever thankful for my opportunity to study in Shanghai the spring of 2011. hide
Hey Everyone! My name is Eddie Gonzalez and I am currently a Senior at the Unversity of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. I'm pursuing a bachelor's in Linguistics and Teaching English as a Second Language. During the Summer of 2013, I studied abroad...read more
Hey Everyone! My name is Eddie Gonzalez and I am currently a Senior at the Unversity of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. I'm pursuing a bachelor's in Linguistics and Teaching English as a Second Language. During the Summer of 2013, I studied abroad at Fudan University in Shanghai, China in the Intensive Language program. I have to say that there is nothing like the experience of studying abroad, and I would do it again in a heartbeat if I could. The command of the Chinese Language I gained abroad through language immersion cannot be matched in day to day classes at a university. I spent two months in China, and in this short amount of time my confidence and ability in Chinese increased greatly. I can't wait to tell other students at UIUC about my experiences and am excited to help others experience what I have abroad. hide
hidemy school how important study abroad is and encourage them to increase study abroad financial aid.
你好！My name is Julie Trinh and I am currently a senior at Duquesne University. My journey with studying Mandarin began when I chose International Relations as a second major. After finishing my 100 level of study and having no plans for the following...read more
你好！My name is Julie Trinh and I am currently a senior at Duquesne University. My journey with studying Mandarin began when I chose International Relations as a second major. After finishing my 100 level of study and having no plans for the following summer, I decided that traveling abroad to China would be a great opportunity to put what knowledge I had of Mandarin to the test. Two months of going back and forth with my advisor, getting teacher recommendations and finding the funds for the trip later, I got approved to go to the intensive Chinese program at Fudan University.
After the second week of classes, I realized how intensive an intensive language program is, frequented the late night markets and decided that I didn’t care whether or not I got sick from the street food because it’s totally worth it. Within the first month in Shanghai, I had learned how to master the subway system, felt comfortable enough to chat with taxi drivers and order my meals at restaurants that did not have pictures to accompany each dish. After two months in Shanghai, I had traveled to Beijing and climbed the Great Wall, walked through the Forbidden City and got a feel of how politics influence even the street vendors. I also made great new friends from all over the world and had the time of my life, all the while learning more and more about real Chinese culture.
After coming home from Shanghai I was surprised to discover how much I missed it! I know that it is a cliché statement, but I believe that making the decision to study abroad in Shanghai has changed my life. I want to be able to help others have the same opportunity that I had and I hope that through the Alliance for Global Education I will be able to do just that. hide
Hi! I’m a junior studying English at Wellesley College. Before college, I knew next to nothing about Asia. It really wasn’t until I took a volunteer position in Boston’s Chinatown that I became exposed to Chinese language and culture...read more
Hi! I’m a junior studying English at Wellesley College. Before college, I knew next to nothing about Asia. It really wasn’t until I took a volunteer position in Boston’s Chinatown that I became exposed to Chinese language and culture. I began studying Mandarin and immersing myself more in the Chinatown community. I had always planned for a semester abroad studying literature in England. Alas, the Alliance programs in China sounded so fascinating, and the Asia pull just took hold of me!
Studying abroad in Shanghai was the best, most exciting and enriching experience so far in my life. Of course, there were times I missed everything American. Skyping home became a regular part of my week, and I frequented the pizza place on my street probably a little too often. But more than anything, the most interesting part about living in a once so foreign China was realizing how familiar life was to me there. I did a number of weekend trips in and around China, and every time I returned to my apartment in Shanghai, it felt like home. My four months in Shanghai flew by so quickly—too quickly! I cannot wait to get back! hide
My name is Branna Williams and I am currently a senior at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina. This spring I will graduate with a double major in Political Science and Chinese Studies. In the summer of 2010, I spent eight fabulous...read more
My name is Branna Williams and I am currently a senior at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina. This spring I will graduate with a double major in Political Science and Chinese Studies. In the summer of 2010, I spent eight fabulous weeks studying with the Alliance in Beijing -- by far, one of the best experiences I have ever had, hands down. Although I had only studied Chinese for a year, I found I was not alone in my ever-diminishing struggle to communicate in China. Some students in our program were nearly fluent, while others had no prior study in the language before their arrival in China. Much to my relief, I was somewhere in the middle and am certain that I learned as much Chinese in one summer as I did in studying Chinese for one year in the U.S.
Upon returning to the U.S., I began to realize what a crucial part the immersion factor plays when learning a language like Chinese. Besides that, I missed China! It did not take me long to decide that I was going to study abroad in China again in spring 2011. This time, I wanted to see what Shanghai had to offer. I was in for a semester of experiencing what it is like to not only study, but actually live a vibrant city, molded by both globalization and tradition.
In addition to greatly advancing in Chinese language proficiency last semester, I had opportunities opened to me that would not have been possible in the U.S. Chatting with your taxi driver in Chinese, hiking the Great Wall (without dozens of tourists), having a picnic with Buddhist monks atop a mountain in Xiahe, and climbing the huge mountains of Tiger Leaping Gorge in southern China are not an option while studying Chinese at your university in the U.S. Aside from these unforgettable events throughout both semesters, I also had the rare opportunity to conduct in depth research about particular areas of interest via the Capstone Projects. After completing one Capstone on the dairy industry and one on the politics of environment, I had developed contacts, laid groundwork for my senior thesis, and attained knowledge that will be an asset to me in future career endeavors. Choosing to study with Alliance was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I have made in enriching my educational and cultural experiences. hide
Back in the summer of 2010 I was preparing to study abroad in Shanghai, China. I was overly excited. Before coming to China I spent a good year studying Chinese on my own and had spent countless hours examining and studying Chinese culture. I knew that...read more
Back in the summer of 2010 I was preparing to study abroad in Shanghai, China. I was overly excited. Before coming to China I spent a good year studying Chinese on my own and had spent countless hours examining and studying Chinese culture. I knew that China would be a fascinating place and that I would enjoy my study abroad. Half way through my fall semester at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics I knew that my time in China would not have been enough; I fell in love with China, I couldn’t leave. I then decided to attend the Alliance’s spring program at Fudan University, Shanghai. I then once again was not satisfied. I attended the Alliance’s summer program at Beijing Language and Culture University; during that time I stayed with a Chinese host family and also interned with a Chinese Magazine. Coming back home was bitter sweet; I was happy to be home, but sad to be leaving China. My experiences in China are priceless; I met many great people, I visited amazing places that most people will never see, I attained a great understanding of Chinese Culture, and most importantly, I significantly improved my Chinese skills. Now my Chinese is very good; it may take years to attain fluency but I know that if I build on my current skills fluency is imminent. China has become my second home and I hope to live and work there right after graduation! hide
Read what these students have to say about study abroad with the Alliance in Asia!
Visit the Accepted Students section