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The Top Ten Reasons to Study in China:
1. The language, obviously!
There’s nothing as effective as learning a language in the country it comes from – especially if more than a billion people live in that country! You'd go to France to learn French, Italy to learn Italian, Japan to learn Japanese… so learning Chinese in China is the natural choice. By studying in China you can use what you learn from your classes and your one-on-one tutoring right away; to order food at a restaurant, to haggle at a local market, to converse with cab drivers, and even to make new friends. After all, when more than one-fifth of the world’s population speaks some form of Chinese, you’re likely to meet one of them sooner or later!
2. The history.
A country as populous as China didn’t get so large overnight – it took a long, long time. The earliest examples of written Chinese history date back to 1600 BC, though the stories refer to events occurring up to 4200 years ago! Since then, China has undergone episodes of expansion and contraction, of war and peace, of poverty and prosperity, of invasion and rebellion, of unification and civil strife, of empire and warring states. Even the imperial dynasties of foreign invaders like the Mongols and Manchus respected the long history of their conquered land – both assimilated themselves into Chinese culture, rather than imposing their own on the people. As you study Mandarin in China you'll also immerse yourself in this rich and fascinating history, which never fails to captivate visitors.
3. The food.
Before you come study in China you'll probably have sampled plenty of Chinese food in your home country; but there is so much more to the Chinese cuisine than sweet and sour pork balls and General Tso’s chicken! In fact, there is such a wide range of tastes and flavors in China that it’s pretty difficult to define a singular style of “Chinese” food. From the sweet and tangy Cantonese food in Guangdong to the numbing spiciness of Sichuan cuisine, and from the many varieties of dumplings in stacked bamboo steamers to the elegance of the classic Beijing roast duck, you are bound to discover something to delight the tastebuds!
4. The culture.
As you can imagine, a civilization of over 4000 years has developed a culture too rich to describe in a few words… but let’s give it a try: Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. Mandarin and Cantonese. Kung fu and tai chi. Shaolin monks and Buddhist temples. Jet Li and Jackie Chan. Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi. Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Farewell My Concubine. The Art of War, by Sun Tzu. Feng shui. Yin and yang. The lunar calendar. Chinese New Year and Spring Festival. The Dragon Boat Festival. Mid-Autumn Festival and moon cakes. The Chinese zodiac. The dragon and the phoenix. Porcelain and calligraphy. Ming vases, jade ornaments and silk robes. Terracotta warriors and Buddhist statues. Chinese opera. Zithers, fiddles, drums and gongs… just to name a few.
5. The people.
If you’ve met Chinese people before, the chances are that you’ve met someone from the Han Chinese ethnic group. With over 1.2 billion people in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, plus a diaspora of over 40 million more around the world, the Han Chinese are the world’s largest ethnic group. But China’s population also includes 55 other distinct ethnic minorities, from the Manchus of the Qing dynasty to the Hui people of the Silk Road, from the Uyghurs of Central Asia to the Mongol descendants of Genghis Khan, each of which has their own history and culture. Learn Chinese in China and you'll have the opportunity meet many of them for yourself.
6. The land.
As the world’s third-largest country by size, there’s no shortage of places to go and things to see in while you're living and studying in China. From the desert dunes and grasslands in the north to the sub-tropical climate of the south, the country will mesmerize you. Check out the seemingly never-ending mountains and vistas of Yunnan province, experience the surreal limestone formations of Guilin and Yangshuo or imagine yourself as a warrior in Genghis Khan’s army when horse-riding on the Inner Mongolian steppes. Follow the lifeblood of river trade down the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) as it divides China into north and south for more than 6000 kilometres. All this is possible, and we haven’t even mentioned the pandas yet!
7. The cities.
Most people can only name Beijing or Shanghai when it comes to Chinese cities, but there are, in fact, more than 160 cities in China with a population greater than 1 million. With regional differences in climate, physical environment, cuisine, and even spoken dialect, it’s no wonder that even Chinese people have trouble getting a handle on things. As you learn Chinese you can choose to see Beijing in all its imperial splendour or live close to the postcard scenery of Lijiang, get energized in Shanghai’s hustle and bustle or chill out on the beach in Qingdao. Alternatively, if actual chills are more your style, visit Harbin in January for the ice sculpture festival where you'll see entire buildings carved out of ice! By studying in China you'll have every chance get beyond the major cities and experience everything the country has to offer.
8. The economy.
Does anything more really need to be said about China’s economy? It is the second largest in the world, after the USA, having grown at a rate of about 10% per year for the past 30 years. Yet with an annual per capita GDP of less than $4000 US dollars, there’s still a lot of room to improve. And what other country can boast being a player in as many areas as China? Besides the traditional industries of agriculture and manufacturing, the country has also become a world leader in areas like mining, solar panels, high speed trains, and telecommunications. China has even become the world’s largest car market, overtaking the USA for the first time in 2009.
9. The schools.
Whether you’re looking for a short-term Chinese language course or applying for a degree program, there is an institution in China that suits your needs. Tailor your language classes around your own schedule at the Beijing Mandarin Academy. Spend your summer learning Mandarin by the beach at Ocean University in Qingdao. Take a class at the Beijing Language and Culture University, the best school in the country for Chinese teachers. Challenge yourself at an institution like Peking University or Tsinghua University, both ranked in the top 60 in the world by the QS World University Rankings and The Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Whatever you’re looking for, you can find it here.
10. The future.
In our interconnected and globalized world, China is and will continue to be a part of our lives whether we like it or not, so why not get involved? The opportunities here are endless, the possibilities unlimited. Coming to China is no only the best way to learn Chinese, it's also a wonderful opportunity to meet new friends and make new contacts. Even if you don’t plan to stay here long term, the experience of studying in China will be worth putting on your resume or CV, at the very least. While the rest of the world languishes in economic and social doldrums the Middle Kingdom is racing forward, building the future: learn Chinese in China and build your future too.
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