Beijing
China
  • About this Program
    • Program Overview
    • On Location in Beijing
  • Academics
    • Semester Curriculum
    • Faculty
    • Credits, Grades, and Transcripts
  • Field Component
    • Capstone Research Project
    • Part-Time Internships
    • Documentary Film
  • Calendar and Fees
    • Academic Calendar
    • Program Fees
  • Daily Life
    • Student Housing
    • Chinese Language Partners
    • Food and Meals
  • Activities and Excursions
    • Extra-curricular Classes
    • Local Field Visits
    • Field Study Trip
  • Student Perspectives
    • Contact a Program Graduate
    • Read Student Blogs
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Popular Culture and Social Change

Program Overview

Beijing’s place at the forefront of Chinese popular culture and social change has deeply influenced new generations of Chinese and profoundly shaped their views of the world. Our Popular Culture and Social Change program offers students insider access to the currents driving contemporary Chinese society. Building upon a multi-disciplinary foundation spanning economics, environmental issues, and foreign policy, students engage with new elective coursework in contemporary visual arts and music, fashion and design, and theater and dance. Students also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by enrolling in an internship or exploring their own research interests through the visual medium of documentary filmmaking.  

Students may enroll for the fall or spring semester. 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!

Pre-requisites

  • 3.0 GPA minimum
  • Enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at an accredited U.S. institution
  • No prior Chinese language study is required
  • Students who wish to pursue an internship must have a minimum of three prior semesters of Chinese language instruction

Academic Structure

For a total of 15 credits in fall and spring terms students take the following curriculum:

  • Chinese language courses
  • English-taught area studies courses
  • Optional Internship or Documentary Film course

Classes are offered exclusively for Alliance students. Chinese language course placement is contingent upon the results of a placement exam after arrival in China. Language classes average 6-8 students per class and are taught by fulltime language faculty selected and trained by the Alliance. Area studies courses are taught by faculty from various universities in Beijing.

On Location in Beijing

Fresh from a massive urban renewal in conjunction with the 2008 Olympic Games, China’s bustling capital city of Beijing is the nation’s political, educational, and cultural center. It has more universities and research institutes than any other city in China, making it the intellectual hub of the country. Beijing’s 3,000 years of history is reflected in its art, architecture, music, and traditions. Among its innumerable attractions are the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, and the nearby Great Wall. While the city is replete with historical treasures, modern Beijing is buzzing with restaurants, museums, and movie theaters.

Check out this interactive map to locate the Alliance's resources across Beijing:


View Alliance On Location: Beijing in a larger map.

Neighborhood

Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) is located just east of the vibrant and international university neighborhood of Wudaokou (五道口) in the Haidian District(海淀区)of North West Beijing. Wudaokou is close to a number of universities and research institutes and is home to a growing student population. Minutes from campus, students will find themselves in the heart of Wudaokou surrounded by a large shopping mall, movie theater, grocery stores, and many restaurants serving Japanese, Korean, Mexican and American cuisines in addition to a wide variety of Chinese cuisines. Students also have easy access to coffee shops and book stores along with other cultural resources and the rich academic ambience in the immediate vicinity of BLCU and the Haidian District at large. The Wudaokou subway stop, located on line 13, makes exploring the entire city extremely convenient. Even the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube of the 2008 Olympic Games are just a short bus ride away. BLCU’s exciting central location is a perfect place for the international student in Beijing. 

Beijing Language and Culture University

Founded in 1962, the Beijing Language and Culture University (北京语言大学)is considered to be one of the nation’s premier institutions for the teaching of Chinese language and culture to foreigners. The majority of Chinese Language textbooks are written at BLCU by BLCU professors. These books are used in Chinese classrooms across the United States and throughout the world. BLCU confers degrees at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels and is comprised of 11 faculties and research institutes. The university hosts 14,000 foreign and Chinese students. It is located in the Haidian district, which is home to the majority of Beijing’s universities.

Semester Curriculum

The foundation of this 15-credit program is six-credits of Chinese language and a three-credit core course. Students build upon these classes with electives that offer the opportunity to examine modern China through various themes and disciplines such as economics, environment, foreign policy, arts, music, design and film. All area studies courses are taught in English. 

Students must enroll in:

In addition, students choose from one of the options below:

Core Course

SOCI260 Contemporary Culture and Social Change in China (required, 3 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 include the developments in urban and rural social transformation introduced by the reforms, the changing relationship between the individual and society, the urban and rural divide, and population control and the one child policy. Students explore the social consequences of China's rapid integration into the global economy. All students complete a Capstone Project as part of this course.

Elective Courses

All area studies courses are taught in English and meet for three class hours per week. Class lectures, readings, and discussions are complimented with relevant fieldwork and site visits. Students must enroll in one from the following list. Students with at least three semesters of Chinese may elect to participate in a 3-credit internship as one of their electives.

ARTH370 Contemporary Visual Arts (3 hours/week, 3 credits)

Beijing has become a global center for contemporary visual arts, and this course explores this evolution from the end of the last imperial dynasty to the present time. Students examine how visual artists shaped and were shaped by massive transformations in Chinese society and by the international art movements over the past century. The course then provides a survey of China’s contemporary visual arts scene. Students gain a nuanced understanding of the evolution of contemporary visual art and the artists who create it and identify key players in today’s art world. Field visits to artists’ studios, galleries, auction houses, museums, and public arts spaces are also incorporated.

MUSC365 Pop, Rock, Folk, and the Contemporary Chinese Music Scene (3 hours/week, 3 credits)

Rock and roll, or yaogun, emerged from the ashes of the Cultural Revolution during the collective re-examination of society that took place during the Reform and Opening Up era. How did a form of musical expression so alien to China become so mainstream? What social, cultural, and technological developments have played a role in the dissemination and development of yaogun? How have Chinese musicians encountered, embraced, or rejected “Western” rock and roll? Students not only learn about the contemporary music scene in China, but also develop a deeper understanding of Chinese society through its embrace of jazz and rock and roll.

THTR375 Contemporary Performing Arts (3 hours/week, 3 credits)

During the early years of the Communist Party, theater and dance were propaganda tools for the Communist Party, but since 2008, the National Center for the Performing Arts has brought a great range of weekly world-class performances to Beijing audiences. No longer only appreciated by a small group of professionals, this shift has deeply influenced the new generations of Chinese and profoundly shaped their world-views. Students discover the dramatic changes that have transformed performing arts from the 1970s to the present day, developing their understanding of this transformation’s social, political and cultural dimensions. 

FILM380 Documentary Film (3 credits)

This course allows students to conduct and present research through a visual rather than written medium. Working closely with a faculty member and, where necessary, an academic subject area expert, students are trained in the art and technique of documentary filmmaking. Introductory classes provide students with a basic foundation in the theory and history of documentary film, as well as teach them to develop critical skills in documentary film language, camera technique, and the craft of post-production. For all majors; no film background is required. Visit the Documentary Film page for more information.

IAFF370 Introduction to Chinese Foreign Policy (3 hours/week, 3 credits)

This class provides an overview of Chinese foreign policy from 1949 through 2008. The first six weeks of class present historical and cultural background from 1949-2002. The remaining portion of the semester is devoted to exploring China's foreign policy during the Hu Jintao administration (2003-present), providing an overview of foreign policy structures, principles, general practices, and characteristics of China's current interstate relationships.

INTS380 Internship (10-12 hours/week, 3 credits)

Students with at least three semesters of Chinese may elect to participate in a 3 credit internship to replace one of their area studies courses. Interns are placed in Chinese, joint-venture, or foreign-owned companies. Interns spend 10-12 hours per week (or 120 hours a semester) at the internship site and complete a research project that includes a 5,000 word paper and oral presentation. Internships are supervised by faculty advisor who meets with each student individually.

FILM360 Contemporary China through Film* (3 hours/week, 3 credits)

This course will examine contemporary China through study of the themes in Chinese cinema from the May Fourth and Republican era (1911-1949), the Maoist era (1949-1978) and the Reform era (1979-present), including films by 5th and 6th Generation Chinese directors. Students will explore the artistic merits of these films and will consider Chinese representations of the themes of cultural, social, and political change.

*This course is not available for Fall 2014-Spring 2015 semesters. 

ARCH391 Traditional to Cutting-Edge Architecture (3 hours/week, 3 credits)

Beijing is an ancient city and home to some of the most cutting edge architectural projects in the world. In this course, students learn about architecture and city planning of imperial Beijing, covering its evolution during the Ming and Qing dynasties and the emergence of hutong (alleyway) neighborhoods through the radical changes after the 1949 revolution and how they shaped the city we see today. In addition, students learn about various stakeholders involved in the transformation of the city, from city leaders to private development companies, and from private citizens to internationally famous architects and designers.

FADN355 Semiotics of Fashion and Design (3 hours/week, 3 credits)

The days of drab and uniform Mao suits are long gone, and the Chinese people have entered the new millennium with style. The changing faces of fashion and design reflect larger scale changes in China as a whole, and fashion and design are also creating new cultural possibilities, distinctions, and identities. This course examines how fashion has been valued over the past century, from imperial times to the founding of the People’s Republic, and from the heyday of Communism to present day individualism. Students learn about the production and the consumption of fashion, exploring how style travels from the minds of designers to factory floors to the streets of China and beyond.

Language Courses

Chinese Language (required, 9 hours/week, 6 credits)

No prior language study is required for admission. 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. Click here to view a full listing of textbooks by Alliance program and course.

Faculty

Language classes taught by full-time language faculty selected and trained by the Alliance. Area studies courses are taught by faculty from various universities in Beijing.

Dr. David Groth, SOCI 260: Popular Culture and Social Change in China

Dr. Cheng Xiaohe, IAFF 370: Introduction to Chinese Foreign Policy

Prof. Abe Sorock, INTS 380: Internship

Prof. Karen Smith, ARTH370: Contemporary Visual Arts

Dr. Jeroen Groenewegen-LauTHTR375: Contemporary Performing Arts, MUSC365: Jazz, Rock 'n’ Roll, and the Contemporary Chinese Music Scene

Prof. Teng Jimeng, FILM 360: Contemporary China Through Film*

* Prof. Teng Jimeng has been awarded a Fulbright to the U.S. for the academic year 2014-2015. We look forward to his return in Fall 2015.

 

Credits, Grades, and Transcripts

Credits, Grades, and Transcripts

A study abroad experience is first and foremost an academic experience. All Alliance for Global Education courses have undergone a faculty review and approval process, and are transcripted by an accredited U.S. university. For all Alliance programs through Spring 2014, transcripts are issued by Arcadia University. For Summer 2014 programs and beyond, transcripts are issued by Butler University.   

While in most cases students who have received approval from their home institution to study on an Alliance program can be assured of credits transferring, it is a student’s responsibility to work with their study abroad or academic advisor and home school faculty or academic departments to ensure credit transfer for specific courses.  

Credits and Accreditation

Credits granted for Alliance courses are identified in course listings on the Curriculum page for each program, and appear on the official transcript issued at the completion of a student's term. Credit is issued in U.S. semester hours, ensuring that students continue to make progress toward their degrees and verifying the full-time course load they completed while abroad.

All Alliance courses have been reviewed and approved by Butler or Arcadia University’s Undergraduate Academic Programs Committee. Arcadia University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Butler University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Programs approved by the Butler University College of Business—which include the Alliance’s International Business Program in Shanghai—are accredited by AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Grades

Students receive a letter grade on a scale from A to F for every course they take while enrolled on an Alliance program. Withdrawals (W) may be granted due to exceptional circumstances. Although policies at students' home institutions may differ, the Alliance does not permit students to take courses on a credit/no credit or pass/fail basis. Student grades are determined by criteria set forth in course syllabi.  

The grading scale used in determining letter grades for Alliance courses is as follows:

Transcripts

At the conclusion of a program, an official transcript is sent to the participant's home school, with an unofficial copy forwarded to the participant. 

Because timelines for final evaluation may vary due to respective program calendars or administrative structures of partner universities abroad, 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:

·        Fall programs - transcript issued in late February

·        Spring and Summer programs - transcript issued in late September

Transcripts are not released for students with an outstanding balance of program fees or other charge incurred while on the program. Students enrolling in consecutive terms with the Alliance do not receive their first term transcript until their second term fees are paid in full.

Participants in Alliance programs through Spring 2014 can request additional copies of transcripts online or in writing at any time from the Arcadia University Registrar's Office.

Participants in Alliance programs beginning Summer 2014 can request additional transcripts of their transcripts online at any time from Butler University's online transcript ordering service provided by the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit organization serving the higher education community. 

If you have a question about the transcripting process or timeline, please feel free to contact your Student Services Manager.

Capstone Research Project

A distinctive component of the Alliance's programs in China is the capstone research project. Students are challenged to engage with Chinese people and deepen their own understanding of one aspect of Chinese policy, society, culture, or business practice through their research. While utilizing academic research and articles as a foundation, students are encouraged to use local resources, such as interviews, participant observation and surveys, to craft their final paper and presentation. 

The capstone project is a graded component of the required core course, Contemporary Culture and Social Change in China, and comprises 40% of that course's grade. Graded project work includes a project abstract with a problem statement and research methodology outline, a PowerPoint presentation, and a final paper.

Featured Capstone Project

Kristen Prevost (Kenyon College)

Teaming up with Alliance Music and Performing Arts professor, Jeroen Groenewegen, Kirsten analyzed the origins and development of modern-day rock music festivals in Beijing researching the role that social and political factors may have played. 

“The objective of my research is to ultimately explain a particular method through which such a notoriously controversial and seemingly chaotic genre of music was able to enter the mainstream music scene in Beijing. This question interests me due to the prevalence of two perceived notions of Chinese culture in particular: That Chinese state governments are quick to suppress large public displays of creative expression, and the notion that Chinese people in general may be too reserved or cautious to find such themes appealing. If these western perceptions of Chinese culture were true, why would these festivals, and fandom for the genre, exist? Could they be in some parts true? If so, in what ways did this challenge the rise of rock music performance?”

Examples of Student Capstones in Beijing

  • Attitudes Toward Gay and Lesbian Life in China
  • Birth Control Policy and Women's Social Status in China
  • Chinese Contemporary Arts - 798 Art District
  • The Education of Migrant Workers' Children in Urban Areas
  • Intellectual Property Rights and Entrepreneurs in China
  • Street Vendors: Another Side of Chinese Culture
  • Rising Nation, Falling Hearts: Heart Disease in China
  • The Popularity of Wuxia films among Chinese Youth
  • How American Media Affect Intercultural Communication in China
  • The Increase of Cosmetic Surgery in China
  • The Chinese Beauty Standard
  • Video games Consumption habits amongst Chinese College aged Youth in Beijing
  • Tracking anti-Japanese sentiment in China: Reasoning and perceptions
  • What Cultural and Language Barriers African Students Experience While Studying at BLCU
  • Impact of South Korean soap operas on Chinese pop culture

For more Capstone project ideas from Alliance students in all our China programs, click here. To read more abstracts of Alliance students' capstones, click here.

Part-Time Internships

In Beijing, internship placements are subject to availability and may include Chinese and foreign businesses, NGOs, and government organizations. The Alliance makes every effort to place student interns at companies or organizations that match their interests as closely as possible. The placements depend on the employers’ needs, what each student can bring to the company/organization, each student’s background, prior experience, performance during interview, and skill sets, including but not limited to the student’s Chinese language level and communication skills. The placement process begins with the submission of the Field Component Form during the program application process, and placements are typically finalized after an in-person interview in China. 

Featured Internship Placement

Courtney Buras (North Central College)

While interning this term at China Radio International (CRI), the only overseas radio broadcaster in the People's Republic of China, Courtney interviews Native English and Chinese speakers about various topics and posts the recorded interviews online. She also edits and copy-writes material for the CRI website and other programs.

Sample of Past Beijing Internships

Although the Alliance makes every effort to accommodate student preferences during the placement process, applicants are also encouraged to be flexible. Certain fields and industry sectors may limit the types of work available to undergraduate interns. The internship field in China’s large cities is highly competitive and the number of available placements is limited.

  • CERNET-Blackboard Information Technology (Beijing) Co. Ltd, a Chinese-American joint venture providing online education services worldwide
  • Samsung OpenTide Chinaa convergent management and digital marketing consulting firm
  • International Committee of the Red Cross, an independent organization ensuring humanitarian assistance for victims of war and other situations of violence
  • Huiling Community Servicesa charitable organization helping mentally challenged individuals and orphans learn basic life skills
  • Peking University International Economic Law Institutea research think-tank servicing multinational corporations and organizations
  • American Chamber of Commercea non-profit organization representing over 2,700 individuals from 1,200 U.S. companies doing business in China
  • International Union for Conservation of Naturethe world’s largest non-profit global network that addresses pressing environmental challenges
  • Modern Sky, a music company that organizes rock and electronic music festivals

Pre-Requisites 

Semester students must have completed at least 3 semesters of college level Chinese to participate in the internship. Although no prior study of Chinese is required for summer internships, students’ Chinese language proficiency may affect their internship placements. Students apply for the internship course when completing the Course Preference Form.

Credit and Course Requirements

The internship course is worth 3 credits in the spring or fall terms. Credit is awarded for the academic component of the internship. Interns will complete a research project, including a 5000-word final paper (in English). The work is supervised throughout the term by a faculty advisor who holds both group and individual meetings with students to provide academic advising for their research project. During the semester, interns will spend 10-12 hours per week (or 120 hours a semester) at the internship site. For more information, see the Beijing Internship Handbook.

Documentary Film

The documentary film option allows students to conduct and present research through a visual rather than written medium. Working closely with a faculty member and, where necessary, an additional academic subject area expert, Alliance students are trained in the art and technique of documentary filmmaking. Introductory classes during the semester provide students with a basic foundation in the theory and history of documentary film, as well as teach them to develop critical skills in documentary film language, camera technique, and the craft of post-production. These sessions, complemented by various field exercises during the term, equip students with the skills need to produce a short film on their selected subject area. For all majors; no film background is required; students must provide their own digital video cameras.

A draft syllabus for the course is provided hereIt is expected that students will take at least one elective relevant to the topic they plan to explore. 

Watch the Pune (India) program's Documentary Films Playlist!

Academic Calendar

  • Fall 2014 term: August 27  December 22
  • Spring 2015 term: January 21 – May 18 

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.

2014 Spring Beijing Program Calendar

  • Suggested flight departure: February 11
  • Arrival in Beijing: February 12
  • Orientation: February 12-16
  • Classes begin: February 17
  • Field Study Trip*: March 15-23
  • Mid-term Exams: April 11
  • Independent Travel week*: April 12-20
  • Last day of final exams: June 6
  • Students may depart: June 7
  • Students must move out of housing (by 12 noon): June 9

2014 Fall Beijing Program Calendar

  • Suggested flight departure: August 26
  • Arrival in Beijing: August 27
  • Orientation: August 27-30
  • Classes begin: September 1
  • Field Study Trip*: October 4-12
  • Mid-term Exams: October 24
  • Independent Travel week*: November 1-8
  • Final exams: December 15-19
  • Students may depart: December 20
  • Students must move out of housing (by 12 noon): December 22
* Organized trip dates are subject to change at any time.

Program Fees

Spring 2014 Program $ 14,350
Fall 2014 Program $ 14,350

What's Included

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, and a one-week Field Study Trip and a weekend trip in the fall and spring semesters. 

The program price does not include airfare to China, meals, passport and visa fees, independent travel, and other items not mentioned as included. Students who opt to live with a Chinese host family must pay an additional fee. 

Our breakdown of spring and fall 2014 program fees include an itemized list of additional expenses that students may encounter abroad.

Spring & Summer Internship Combo Discount

The opportunity to engage in Chinese language and studies in the spring, and pursue an internship during the summer term is invaluable. Because the Alliance recognizes the significance of building a strong foundation in the spring to pursue meaningful fieldwork in the summer, all students who opt to complement a spring semester with the Alliance by pursuing a full-time summer internship will receive an $800 discount, in place of the standard $500 continuer discount.

Multiple Term or Academic Year Discount

The Alliance encourages students to enroll for more than one term and to consider studying with more than one Alliance program. 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.

Student Housing

Students are housed in the International Student Dorm #17 in double rooms with other Alliance students. Rooms include: two single beds, two desks, two chairs, small book shelves, cabinets, desk lamps, TV, and air-conditioning, and a private bathroom. They are also wired for high-speed internet. Bed linens, including blankets and pillows, are provided by the dorm and cleaned once a week. Towels are not provided. Each floor is equipped with washing machines. Students can purchase tokens for the machines at the front desk of the dorm. Tokens cost approximately 4 RMB for the washing machine and 8 RMB for the dryer. There is also a kitchen with a stove and microwave on each floor. Students are able to borrow some basic cooking equipment from the Alliance.

Chinese Language Partners

Each student in Beijing is paired with a Chinese graduate student whose major is teaching Chinese as a foreign language. Alliance students and language partners meet one-on-one for Chinese tutoring three times a week for an hour per session.  However, students and their language partners often meet more regularly than the minimum requirement to explore Beijing together. In addition to tutoring, language partners also help Alliance students become oriented to campus life.

Food and Meals

Meals are not included in the Alliance program fee. Students can choose to eat at the small restaurants on or nearby campus or eat in the dining halls, using meal debit cards. Students should budget around $10 per day for meals.

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.

Extra-curricular Classes

The Alliance arranges extra-curricular classes which may include Chinese painting, calligraphy, cooking, taiji or other martial arts, pottery, seal carving, or paper cutting. These classes offer a wonderful opportunity to learn more about traditional Chinese culture.

Local Field Visits

Throughout the term, 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. Students explore the great historical and cultural monuments of the capital and benefit from visits to Beijing's art districts, lectures on China's environmental protection policies, or workshops on Chinese food culture. Below is a sampling of activities from previous terms. Specific activities for future terms are subject to change.

Forbidden City and Tian'anmen Square Tour

Students visit the Forbidden City and Tian'anmen Square, typically during their orientation. The tour is followed by Wang Fujing shopping street tour and Chinese acrobat show.

Houhai Lake Hutong Tour

This tour includes some of the oldest residential neighborhoods in Beijing, with beautiful traditional Chinese courtyard houses. Previous students visited a local artist's house and paper cutting gallery. They also enjoyed lunch with a family in one of the courtyards and learned to make dumplings.

Hiking the Great Wall of China

For the hiking expedition, students travel to Hebei province to hike an 11 kilometer stretch of one the best-preserved original sections of the wall.

Chinese Ethnic Minority Park

Students and their sociology professor visit the Chinese Ethnic Minority Park for an introduction to the 56 official minority groups in China via their unique dress, cuisine, music, and dance.

American Chamber of Commerce

Four "AmCham" staff members met with Alliance students to talk about US-China relations, trade policies, and cooperation between the American Chamber of Commerce and the US and Chinese governments. They also introduced their personal study abroad/work abroad experience and offered suggestions for professional development in a China focused career.

Lectures and Film Screenings with Local Artists

Past Beijing students had the opportunity to learn firsthand from local writers, filmmakers, musicians, and/or calligraphers about Chinese art forms.

Ming Dynasty Tombs

During this activity, students visit the resting place of 13 Chinese emperors. The tombs are located approximately 30 miles north of downtown Beijing at the tranquil foot of the Jundu Mountains.

A Guided Tour through Chinese Popular Music

Film students enjoyed a guest lecture from Professor Jeroen Groenewegen on the evolution of popular music from the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party through the present time. He shared a fantastic selection of video clips highlighting each genre, including official Chinese propaganda music, Miao ethnicity folk music, and performance in mainland Chinese talent shows.

Field Study Trip

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

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.

Alliance alumna Richelle shared her Field Study Trip experience on her blog in a six-part series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

Qinghai Province

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.

Alliance alumna Rebecca shared her Field Study Trip experience on her blog in a two-part series: Part 1 and Part 2. You can also watch a past Qinghai trip video here.

Contact a Program Graduate

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!

To view graduates from other Alliance programs, click here.  Interact with graduates via our Facebook and YouTube pages, too!

Britt Dorfman

Contemporary India
Skidmore College – International Affairs and Government Major

Namaskaar, I traveled with the Alliance to Pune, India in summer 2012. It was one of the best experiences of my life so far for many different reasons. I was able to travel to a place I had always wanted to go, I discovered new passions that I never...

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Namaskaar, I traveled with the Alliance to Pune, India in summer 2012. It was one of the best experiences of my life so far for many different reasons. I was able to travel to a place I had always wanted to go, I discovered new passions that I never knew I had about public health, and I met incredible people. My internship within a school was one of the most rewarding experiences and a cornerstone of the Alliance programs in India. It was a very difficult decision to study abroad in the summer because the program is not technically a part of my school's study abroad programs. However, I do not regret my decision one bit. If I had to choose I would do it again in a heartbeat. Please feel welcome to contact me with any questions you may have about the program or my experience! Om Shanti Om. hide

Lauren Dodillet

Popular Culture and Social Change
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – Global Studies Major

Hello! My name is Lauren, I'm a Global Studies student at the University of Illinois. Last semester I studied abroad in Beijing, China. It's a crazy, challenging, awesome place to spend a semester. As an ambassador I want to encourage other...

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Hello! My name is Lauren, I'm a Global Studies student at the University of Illinois. Last semester I studied abroad in Beijing, China. It's a crazy, challenging, awesome place to spend a semester. As an ambassador I want to encourage other students to tap into their adventurous side and give study abroad a try. Find the right program for you, and you'll never forget your experience abroad... I know I won't! hide

Jan Dela Cruz

Popular Culture and Social Change
Carleton College – Economics Major

Hello everyone! My name is Jan Aldrich Larsen Dela Cruz and I'm an economics major at Carleton College. I went abroad last semester with Beijing Popular Culture where I took classes and did an internship with the international economic law...

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Hello everyone! My name is Jan Aldrich Larsen Dela Cruz and I'm an economics major at Carleton College. I went abroad last semester with Beijing Popular Culture where I took classes and did an internship with the international economic law institute at Peking university. I'm involved in many activities on campus such a Global China Connection and Asian Students in America. I intend to use these student organizations to tell people how much studying abroad has helped me leverage my professional career and how awesome it is to get an inside look at China's ever growing economy. hide

Isabel Knight

Popular Culture and Social Change
Swarthmore College – International Relations Major

大家好!I'm Isabel or 金欣欣! I am currently a sophomore at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and this summer I took Popular Culture and Social Change in Beijing. I plan on majoring in Political Science and I just started taking Chinese this past year. I...

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大家好!I'm Isabel or 金欣欣! I am currently a sophomore at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and this summer I took Popular Culture and Social Change in Beijing. I plan on majoring in Political Science and I just started taking Chinese this past year. I had been to Beijing before, but I had never been to China and been able to communicate in Chinese with everybody. Now I've made a lot of Chinese friends and can talk much more easily with my mom in Chinese! hide

Katrina Laidlaw

Popular Culture and Social Change
Norwich University – International Studies and Political Science Major

你好! My name is Katrina Norma Ebbesen Laidlaw or 雷兰兰. I am studying at Norwich University in Vermont, and I've just started my junior year as a double major in Political Science and...

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你好! My name is Katrina Norma Ebbesen Laidlaw or 雷兰兰. I am studying at Norwich University in Vermont, and I've just started my junior year as a double major in Political Science and International Studies with a minor in Chinese. This summer I spent my time in Beijing and I had the time of my life! At first I was worried that my language skills weren't on par with everyone else, but in the end, I improved so much I actually made a few Chinese friends that couldn't really speak English. China was so awesome; I'd like to inspire other folks to study there! hide

Mithun Manivannan

Popular Culture and Social Change
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – Computer Engineering Major

你 好,my name is Mithun (满敏恒, man min heng), I am a Junior at University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign. My major is Computer Engineering with...

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你 好,my name is Mithun (满敏恒, man min heng), I am a Junior at University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign. My major is Computer Engineering with a minor in Chinese studies. I have been learning Chinese for 5 years now, and have been to China twice. The most recent trip was to study Chinese language, society, and foreign policy on the Alliane's Popular Culture and Social Change program. I had a blast there, and I hope I can go back to China at least once before I graduate.

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Mick Wang

Popular Culture and Social Change
Butler University – International Studies Major

你们吃饭了吗...

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你们吃饭了吗! I was one of the 11 cool kids lucky enough to find ourselves in the Beijing program in the spring. Growing up in the Redondo Beach area of Southern California, I made my way to Indianapolis, IN to attend Butler University. Realizing I was an international studies major in the middle of the country, I fortunately happened upon the Alliance for Global Education. It was great studying abroad in Beijing, a city that is quite literally changing before the eyes of our generation. I look forward to chatting with all of you as an Alumni Ambassador! hide

Andrew Marcoux

Popular Culture and Social Change
St. Michael's College – History Major

My name is Andrew and I studied in Beijing last fall. Currently, I am a Junior at Saint Michael's College in...

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My name is Andrew and I studied in Beijing last fall. Currently, I am a Junior at Saint Michael's College in Vermont, where I study History and East Asian Studies. As for China, it was by far the most amazing experience of my life. While over there I travelled to Gansu/Qinghai for a week and Xi'an for a weekend with my classmates while also independently travelling to Macau and Hong Kong for a week and Shanghai for a weekend. Needless to say, I was shocked at how diverse China actually is. Now that I'm back, I'm already looking for ways to return there over the summer (hopefully through Alliance) and without a doubt plan on moving there after graduation. hide

Joshua Pauls

Popular Culture and Social Change
Xi'an and the Silk Road
University of Tulsa – Chemical Engineering Major

Hey Everyone! I'm Joshua, and in 2012 I studied abroad at both the Xi'an program and the Beijing program,...

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Hey Everyone! I'm Joshua, and in 2012 I studied abroad at both the Xi'an program and the Beijing program, spring and fall respectively. Prior to my travels, I had not left the country for any longer than a week and neither did I speak any Chinese, however my year in China was above and beyond any experience I could have imagined, I absolutely loved it. The best part of my time, no matter where I was, was the people I met, whether it was friends I kept in touch with for the whole year or acquaintences that I just chatted with for a few minutes on public transit, and it is to them I owe a great debt of gratitude for any progress that I made.

I am in fact majoring in Chemical Engineering. I would definitely say my time abroad has expanded my realization of what sort of opportunities are available to any student is willing to, as the Chinese say, "下工夫" and see what's out there. I am very much looking forward to helping other students who are looking for a chance to do just that. hide

Richelle Gamlam

Popular Culture and Social Change
Xi'an and the Silk Road
George Washington University – International Affairs Major

Hi Everyone! My name is Richelle and I studied this past spring in Beijing and over the summer in Xi'an. It was absolutely amazing! Living in China for seven months was definitely a great experience and I can't wait to go back. I'm a senior...

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Hi Everyone! My name is Richelle and I studied this past spring in Beijing and over the summer in Xi'an. It was absolutely amazing! Living in China for seven months was definitely a great experience and I can't wait to go back. I'm a senior at GW this year, and in addition to my international affairs major, I am also minoring in sociocultural anthropology and Chinese. I'm really interested in study abroad as a career, and I hope to go to graduate school to study international education. Aside from that, I'm originally from Seattle, WA and I love to compete ballroom and Latin dance for fun. hide

Sydney Gorman

Popular Culture and Social Change
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – Global Studies Major

Hello students! My name is Sydney. I'm particularly passionate about food, photography, running, and adventures! My...

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Hello students! My name is Sydney. I'm particularly passionate about food, photography, running, and adventures! My major is Global Studies, and I studied abroad in Beijing, China during the Fall 2011 Semester. This time last year I had just left for China, it's so crazy to think about! I learned so much and made so many lifelong friends, and I want other students to have the same experience! I am thrilled to be an Ambassador and can't wait to send new students on their way to Beijing! hide

Jill MacArthur

Popular Culture and Social Change
University of Maryland College Park – Chinese and Spanish Major

Hi Everyone, I was on the Alliance Beijing program this past Spring. I had an absolute blast and my Chinese improved dramatically. In Spring 2011, I also studied abroad in Alcala de Henares, Spain. I went to...

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Hi Everyone, I was on the Alliance Beijing program this past Spring. I had an absolute blast and my Chinese improved dramatically. In Spring 2011, I also studied abroad in Alcala de Henares, Spain. I went to Spain through Maryland, and although I had a great experience, it did not compare to the Beijing Program. The Alliance isn't well known on my campus, so I hope to change that! hide

Cortney Carlson

Popular Culture and Social Change
Southwestern University – International Studies Major

Hi everyone. Last semester I studied at Beijing Language and Culture University and it completely changed my life! My program was amazing and am so excited to get other people from my school involved with the Alliance programs. As an...

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Hi everyone. Last semester I studied at Beijing Language and Culture University and it completely changed my life! My program was amazing and am so excited to get other people from my school involved with the Alliance programs. As an International Studies major, I was required to study abroad at least one semester. Because there has been an increase in Asia concentrated International Studies majors at SU in the past few years, I really want them to consider the Alliance as their way to meet the study abroad requirement. I know it could change their lives too! hide

Anthony Dodge

Popular Culture and Social Change
University of Minnesota Minneapolis – Finance and Accounting Major

大家好! My name is Anthony... or 宋安居... whichever you prefer. I had the great pleasure of studying in Beijing, China during Spring 2012 with the most AMAZING group of people I have ever met. Other than having the opportunity to...

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大家好! My name is Anthony... or 宋安居... whichever you prefer. I had the great pleasure of studying in Beijing, China during Spring 2012 with the most AMAZING group of people I have ever met. Other than having the opportunity to live with a host family, take remarkably intense Chinese classes, and intern at Peking University, what I loved most about this program was the people that I met. I can't tell you how much I miss my China family. hide

Nicole Westergaard

Popular Culture and Social Change
University of Iowa – Chinese, Physiology, and International Relations Major

Hi, my name is Nicole Westergaard and I'm a junior at the University of Iowa.  I have a triple major in Chinese, Integrated Physiology, and International Relations with the overall goal of heading to medical school.  It seems like a...

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Hi, my name is Nicole Westergaard and I'm a junior at the University of Iowa.  I have a triple major in Chinese, Integrated Physiology, and International Relations with the overall goal of heading to medical school.  It seems like a strange combination of majors but I've always been encouraged to do what I love, the ending result is a combination of science and politics.  Originally I never pictured myself heading out to China, however, now that I look back I can't imagine a more perfect and rewarding manner in which to spend my semester.  Between work and classes I never thought I'd have the time, however, once I made the decision to take the plunge I never looked back.  In all honesty, studying in China was originally a ploy to improve not just my Chinese, but my resume. However, my time in Beijing quickly evolved into far more than a certificate and brief line on a piece of paper.  Living and studying in China opened my eyes to a different way of life that cannot be fully conveyed through a textbook.  I would spend hours talking with the lady selling fruit on the street outside my dorm in a language I had previously been beyond inept at about topics I didn't even know existed.  I was enticed by the culture and I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by teachers and staff that were willing to go above and beyond in every way to help me get the most out of my time.  I ended up coming away with far more than I could have expected in the form of friends, memories, and knowledge.  Before Beijing I used to say that Washington D.C. and Newell, Iowa where my two homes, however, after the amazing four months in Beijing that seemed to slip by in the blink of an eye, I can proudly name Beijing as not just a place to live, but a home.  I am eager to get back as soon as possible and for anyone that has any reservations about studying abroad my advice to you is that you aren't young forever and there will never be a more perfect time than now! hide

Sydney Gorman

Popular Culture and Social Change
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – International Relations Major

As someone of Chinese ancestry, this trip to China was just as much a personal adventure as it was culturally and academically fulfilling.  I met my Beijing relatives for the first time, and explored the history of my family in connection with the...

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As someone of Chinese ancestry, this trip to China was just as much a personal adventure as it was culturally and academically fulfilling.  I met my Beijing relatives for the first time, and explored the history of my family in connection with the Qing Dynasty.  In choosing a study abroad program, one of the key benefits of the Alliance program was the opportunity for travelling to more remote areas of China such as Gansu and Qinghai.  The program also provided planning resources for my independent study trip to Hainan and Shanghai.  Some of my favorite memories include dining with families in Qinghai and Gansu and learning about Tibetan culture and the Buddhist religion, lifestyles so much different from the fast-pace life of big cities like Beijing.  However, Beijing has an endless number of activities to choose from; whether it’s pick-up sports with Chinese students on the Beijing Language and Culture University campus or making a trip to the East side of the city, there’s always something to do.  Another great opportunity is that you will have the chance to establish friendships with people from all over the world who are studying Chinese; in some cases, Chinese might be your only way to communicate with another person!   All of these experiences have given me a better sense of self, amazing new friends, and an unforgettable experience.  The Alliance is a truly exceptional program, and I hope that you choose them as your Study Abroad Guide! hide

Matthew Blanchard

Popular Culture and Social Change
Norwich University – International Relations Major

To start off, my name is Matthew Blanchard. I studied Mandarin Chinese while in high school, and in June 2010 I traveled to China for the first time in my life. I spent 5 weeks in Beijing, and on weekends I traveled to Shanghai and Xi’an. ...

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To start off, my name is Matthew Blanchard. I studied Mandarin Chinese while in high school, and in June 2010 I traveled to China for the first time in my life. I spent 5 weeks in Beijing, and on weekends I traveled to Shanghai and Xi’an.  In August 2010, I started school at Norwich University, as a recruit in the Norwich University Corps of Cadets. After my first year, I traveled to Beijing for the second time. Last summer, I spent two months in Beijing with the Alliance program at Beijing Language and Culture University. I plan on traveling to China in the near future, to continue my language study. hide

Shane Woodard

Popular Culture and Social Change
The Citadel – History Major

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but having new eyes.” (Marcel Proust) Hearing this before my trip to China made no sense to me, but after my trip I really did have “new eyes”! My name is...

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“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but having new eyes.” (Marcel Proust) Hearing this before my trip to China made no sense to me, but after my trip I really did have “new eyes”! My name is Shane Woodard and I was part of the Alliance for Global Education Study Abroad summer program in Beijing, China. Right now, I am a senior undergraduate, majoring in History and minoring in East Asian Studies with plans to commission in the United States Navy next year.

My interest in China started while I was in high school and continued to grow once I began college. I always wanted to travel to China, but never could find the time or money to make the trip. Last summer, however, I was able to make it happen and I will never regret it! Initially, I was pretty nervous because I had never travelled out of country and I had only recently begun to study Chinese as a language. With my first steps off the plane in Beijing, however, my worries were blown away. The program in Beijing was fantastic! We saw everything from temples, like the Temple of Heaven, other provinces, like Gansu, to the Great Wall of China. We even got to climb the Wall! The people were amazing and the culture awe inspiring.

The classes were great and the teachers knew exactly how to teach us while making the common classroom monotony non-existent. They would take us on language practicums to talk with the locals and every practicum was new and exciting. We never knew what was around the next corner! As my elective I chose to learn about China’s Foreign Policy and how it interacts with the world. It is amazing what one can learn from a different perspective. I think my favorite part of the whole trip was having the opportunity to be in iconic places like the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square, which I had only read about in books. I look forward to sharing my experience with you! hide

Daniel Mixa

Popular Culture and Social Change
Intensive Chinese Language
International Business in China
University of Tampa – Business Major

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...

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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

David Thompson

Popular Culture and Social Change
George Washington University – Political Science and Chinese Major

Hi, I’m a junior at George Washington University majoring in political science and Chinese. My interest in China began freshman year of high school when I decided to stop taking French and began taking Chinese. Since then I have traveled to China...

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Hi, I’m a junior at George Washington University majoring in political science and Chinese. My interest in China began freshman year of high school when I decided to stop taking French and began taking Chinese. Since then I have traveled to China four times including my most recent semester abroad in Beijing. Though several of my friends went to China for intensive language programs, I felt that the Alliance program had a more suitable balance of courses. Of course continuing my Chinese was a high priority, but I also wanted to be able to understand how Chinese people lived and worked and through an internship set up by the program I was able to do so. I worked at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and through the work that I did I was able to directly help people in need. My internship culminated in a business trip to Sichuan to aid those affected by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The Alliance program also gave me the opportunity to travel and see the disparity in China. It’s not really possible to sum up my experience abroad in a single story—there were too many different places and people that I met. Though I will say my time in Beijing and in China as a whole was an incredible adventure and one that will be hard to forget. If you want to talk about the program or my experience I would be happy to oblige. hide

Read Student Blogs

Read what these students have to say about study abroad with the Alliance in Asia!

 

Sarah Lapidus

Intensive Chinese Language
Non-matriculated – French Major

Alvin Wong

Intensive Chinese Language
Bentley University – Economics and Accounting Major

Kristen Lobo

Popular Culture and Social Change
Northeastern University – Business Administration and Economics Major

Alex Nourse

Popular Culture and Social Change
Marietta College – International Business and Asian Studies Major

Alexa Burkus

Popular Culture and Social Change
Santa Clara University – Marketing and Communication Major

Maurice Chavarry

Popular Culture and Social Change
University of South Alabama – Interdisciplinary Studies

Levi Dantzinger

Popular Culture and Social Change
University of Minnesota Minneapolis – Marketing Major

Audrey Sze

Popular Culture and Social Change
George Washington University – International Affairs and History Major

Isabel Knight

Popular Culture and Social Change
Swarthmore College – Political Science and International Relations Major

Mick Wang

Popular Culture and Social Change
Butler University – International Studies and Religion Major

Rebecca Friedman

Popular Culture and Social Change
George Washington University – International Affairs and Computer Science Major

Nick Legros

Popular Culture and Social Change
Duquesne University – Biology and Health Sciences Major

Courtney Buras

Popular Culture and Social Change
North Central College – East Asian Studies and History Major

Carlie Hope Kozlowich

Popular Culture and Social Change
University of Redlands – Wanderlust: Travel through Language

Richelle Gamlam

Popular Culture and Social Change
George Washington University – International Affairs Major

Julie Sidique

Power, Politics, and Population
Spleman College – International Studies Major

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