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The magic of a study abroad experiences majorly lies within the differences in culture and language that you are bound to experience. As you will be trying to communicate in broken Chinese, shivering in uncertainty or seeking the help of others may not be a thrilling experience but not a bad one either. Just because an international student doesn’t speak the Chinese language doesn’t mean that he/she can’t have a meaningful cultural exchange in China. It just means you can do better as time goes by and so one must not fear to study in China as the Chinese language is not all that you need.

I have always felt that people who decide to study in China are wise. China has been known to be a major influencer in international affairs and global economics. So many people find it an invaluable place to study in. The endless natural beauty, diverse culinary scene, complex history, and deep value for performance and visual arts were among the many highlights that made me desire to study in China. The only thing that I was uncertain about was the language but I was ready to learn it.

The Chinese language has been a great concern when it comes to studying in China for many international students as Mandarin is seen as one of the hardest languages to learn for those who are new to it. But, I later came to learn that it is not necessary to know the language for you to study in China and that there are essentials that a person who has scanty Chinese language skill need to know before departure to have the best experience possible.

In this article, I encourage international students that their journey to study in China should be unstoppable given that the Chinese language is not a prerequisite for them to study in China. This is because in major Chinese cities, classes are taught in English, and international students can study in China in English.

Most important is to know which city is best for primarily English speakers and directly enrolling in the universities of the region. I found out that the English-based learning exchange was prevalent in China’s larger cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. Here, there are well-robust opportunities for international students and there is a greater number of Chinese universities with many international students to communicate to. For me, I had chosen Nanjing University. Even if it is not found in these major towns, it offered some programs in English and so I could communicate in English with other international students though I had much interest in learning Chinese also. For those students who are fascinated by Chinese history, Beijing should be their choice as it is an ideal home living among relics of the past and having the advantages of the present at the same time. Choosing Beijing city means one has to go to either Peking University or Tsinghua University to study in China in English.

For those international students who desire something more modern, Shanghai should be their choice as it is the heart of modern China and the country’s largest city. It is also great for those who plan to pursue a degree in finance, business, or economics.  In this city, you find Shanghai Jiao Tong University- the most prestigious research university in the country with an enormous international student population. Another alternative is Fudan University which is a famous Chinese university for being one of the first schools to accept international students in the country in the 1950s with top-notch intensive Mandarin programs for those interested to learn the language.

Hong Kong is another modern capital that attracts international students who want to study in China. It has a great food landscape, plenty of English-taught courses, and an extensive variety of different cultural influences. Hong Kong University is the region’s oldest institution and is known for its excellence in research. But if an international student is interested in enrolling in beginner Mandarin classes, the university’s official language is Cantonese instead.

The other thing to understand to have the best experience as you study in China even with scanty Chinese language skills is that you can learn in English in China through an expert program provider. Signing up for formal programs can help smooth out an international student’s entire experience in China. Program providers such as Go Abroad China, CIS Abroad, CEA Study Abroad, and USAC help to alleviate sleepless nights as they take care of housing and other logistics before students settle down. They also help in translations to eliminate the language barrier as you learn. Program providers offer good safety during your first days or as you study in China. Therefore, Chinese language fluency is not a must for you to study in China. I cherished a program provider during my time that ensured that my flatmates were fellow English speakers and this made my transition much easier.

Last but not least, having zeroed in on where exactly you want to study in China, taking into consideration the time you should go and for how long is necessary. This is important because China is a country that requires time to understand its complexities, from culture to language to those not familiar with it. Therefore, the longer you stay, the better chance you will have to learn the basics of the Chinese language for those interested. Having the ability to understand even a few simple sentences will enable you to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for China. So for those planning to study in China, knowing Chinese beforehand is not vital.

Moving to China without knowing the Chinese language can cause anxiety but with proper individual preparation beforehand, the transition can be made easier. Speaking to alumni of Chinese universities about their experiences can dispel the fear of not knowing the Chinese language. I helped those who planned to study in China to understand that the Chinese language is a must as there are universities in various Chinese cities that teach in English. I also made them aware of the existence of program providers that offer housing, translation services, and other logistics that help international students settle easily. They also got to understand that they have enough time to learn the Chinese language while that study in China. This way, they can keep an open mind for successful experiences both inside and outside of the classroom.

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