How to Make the Most of your Stay in China

If you're like most foreigners in China, your stay here won't last forever - even very long for that matter. How do you get the most out of your time here?

Make Chinese Friends

Moving to China can be overwhelming, and there's no better way to come to terms with your new surroundings than sharing experiences with fellow exchanges students over drinks. However, hanging out with other foreign students shouldn't mean you don't make a few Chinese friends.

 This guy looks friendly.

This guy looks friendly.

It can be a challenge to become friends with Chinese people. There is a culture gap that will always be there, even with the best of intentions...however, the effort is worth it. You can learn more about China from hanging out with Chinese people than from all your classes combined and it does wonders for your language skills.

Before I came to Shanghai I had spent a year in Beijing. When I came back from my year abroad I realized I had a great time going out every week with other foreign students, but hadn’t put the effort to make Chinese friends. Don’t make the same mistake!

Set goals and Keep them in Mind

Think about what you want to achieve in China and keep those goals in mind, whatever they are. If you want to visit all of Shanghai’s museums, don’t spend your weekend holed up in your dorm watching Netflix.

Use Chinese Whenever and Wherever you Can

Even if you’ve just begun learning Chinese, there are countless ways you can start using Chinese in your daily life. Beyond the obvious, like ordering food in Chinese, there are plenty of things you can do to quickly build your skills:

 There are countless places in China worth exploring.

There are countless places in China worth exploring.

  • Install some Chinese apps on your phone, such as WeChat, Youku, or Baidu Maps
  • Set your whole phone to Chinese if you really like a challenge
  • Watch Chinese movies (just a reminder - GoEast hosts free monthly movie nights!)
  • Try reading a comic or a children’s book
  • Join a Chinese sports team
  • Learn to sing a Chinese song and steal the show at KTV

Travel

China is big - huge, even - so don’t spend all of your time in one place. Trains and domestic flights are cheap and fast, and will take you to the deserts of Inner Mongolia, the historic sights of Beijing, the countryside of Yunnan, the mountains of Anhui, etc. etc. Don’t miss out!


Kevin writes columns for the GoEast Blog on studying Chinese, Chinese culture, and life as a foreign student. He has studied China and Chinese for over five years, first in his home country the Netherlands, then in Beijing, and now attends Fudan University's Chinese Society department.

Related Reading