China has thrived as the great counterweight to Western influence for thousands of years. In the wake of a tumultuous twentieth century, which witnessed the gradual overthrow of dynastic rule by a communist regime, China has once again rapidly developed into a world superpower. Standing tall with the world’s largest population, second largest land area as well as economy, China is indisputably the most important player in modern global affairs, and an incredibly valuable place to study abroad. But more than that, it is an ancient empire rich with cultural integrity, awe-inspiring natural beauty, and an infinitely fascinating history to be enlightened by. Following a massive urbanization movement, China currently boasts 20 cities with over three million inhabitants, including seven cities with over 10 million people. Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong remain the most popular destination for international students. Shanghai is the country’s largest city by population (22 million) and has historically developed as the main commercial and financial life vein of mainland China.
Beijing is the country’s capital and has served as China’s political centre for hundreds of years (the royal Forbidden City, built at the beginning of the fifteenth century, still remains impressively intact at the city’s centre).
Hong Kong, a former British colony and current Special Administrative Region of China, is ranked as the world’s third most important international city and over the past two centuries has developed as a beacon of modern globalization.
Other popular locations for students in China include Chengdu, Tianjin, and Kunming, among others. China is a huge country which governs over 22 provinces and five autonomous regions, many with their own distinct culture, dialect, and way of life. Anywhere you go will offer something unique and different – so research carefully, choose wisely, and travel a lot while you study in China.
Although China boasts being the world’s second largest economy, it is still very much a developing nation, and so the cost of living is quite cheap compared to most Western countries. Meals will generally only cost a few dollars and many prices are up to negotiation. Prices are lower in rural areas than in the cities, and informal market places are cheaper than recognizable Western businesses. Be wary while studying in China – as a tourist you will have a target on your back, so be careful of scams and artificially marked-up prices. Chinese people are unendingly hospitable and sincerely interested in non-Chinese culture. Hugely chaotic crowds of people, inescapable urban pollution, and a spoken language which could not differ more from English, all make studying abroad in China a daunting prospect to even the most adventurous of students. Chinese culture values hard work, disciplined obedience. China is an entirely different world, continuously developed in parallel with the West. Come to explore its mystery, and leave as a more well-rounded student and human being.