Xi'an
China
  • About this Program
    • Program Overview
    • On Location in Xi'an
  • Academics
    • Fall and Spring Curriculum
    • Faculty
    • Capstone Research Project
    • Credits, Grades, and Transcripts
  • Calendar and Fees
    • Academic Calendar
    • Program Fees
  • Daily Life
    • Student Housing
    • Chinese Roommates
    • Food and Meals
  • Activities and Excursions
    • Local Activities
    • Silk Road Field Study Trip
  • Student Perspectives
    • Contact a Program Graduate
    • Read Student Blogs
  • Already Accepted?
    • Already Accepted?
  • Photos

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Xi'an and the Silk Road

Program Overview

An ancient imperial capital and eastern terminus of the Silk Road, Xi’an has long been an important crossroads for people from throughout China, Central Asia, and the Middle East, and thus a melting pot of diverse ethnic identities and religious beliefs. This Alliance program allows students to explore the historical confluences of geography, ethnicity, and religion in a city that is culturally distinct from the coastal megacities. An exhilarating two-week field study trip along the Silk Road takes students off the beaten path and ties these themes together at the crux of the semester.

Students may enroll for a semester or academic year. 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
  • Intermediate through advanced Chinese students may enroll in the specialized Chinese language course

Academic Structure

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

  • Chinese language courses
  • English-taught area studies courses
  • Optional specialized Chinese course open to intermediate and advanced Chinese language students

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 have a maximum of 8 students per class and are taught by language faculty selected and trained by the Alliance.

On Location in Xi'an

Xi’an served as one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China under at least 13 dynasties in the country’s 5000-year history. It is also the eastern terminus of the Silk Road, deemed by many as the first real conduit of globalization, and home to a 13.5 km-long, six-century-old city wall, and the spectacular Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Today, this bustling modern capital of Shaanxi province with eight million people prides itself on being a thriving metropolis with a distinct flavor, where history and modernity intersect. Since the 1990s, Xi’an has re-emerged as an important cultural, industrial and educational center of China’s central-northwest region, with facilities for research and development, national telecom and space exploration programs, and the third largest number of universities in China, only after Beijing and Shanghai.

Check out this interactive map of the Alliance's resources across Xi'an:


View Alliance On Location: Xi'an in a larger map.

Famous for being the cradle of the renowned 5th generation Chinese film directors, Xi’an also boasts some of China’s top art and history museums, a vibrant underground music scene, and a contemporary art district, which complements the city’s exuberant tradition and numerous historical sites. Xi’an also has an interesting ethnic mix and a notable Muslim presence, with Buddhist temples, pagodas and the 1,360-year-old Great Mosque decorating the city's skyline. Xi’an’s intriguing blend of ancient and modern, along with its ethnic, religious and culinary diversity, offers bountiful resources that Chinese-learning students can take full advantage of, be it Chinese history, literature, religion, architecture, arts, culture, in both historic and contemporary contexts against the backdrop of globalization.

Neighborhood

Located in Xi’an’s scenic college district, Shaanxi Normal University (SNU) is conveniently situated near Xi’an’s subway line 2, as well as the historic Wild Goose Pagoda and the Xi’an TV Tower—which offers some of the best views of the city. The SNU campus is surrounded by Chinese and International restaurants, as well as a large grocery store and food stalls selling traditional Xi’annese cuisine. Running alongside campus is Shida Street, the location of many restaurants, stores, cafes and bubble tea stands.

Walking distance from the SNU campus, students can practice bargaining in Chinese in several bustling markets or purchase a few necessities at Xiao Zhai—a large shopping district. Hop on the subway and in fifteen minutes students can find themselves in the center of Xi’an where they can explore the city wall or shop for souvenirs in the Muslim Quarter. 

Shaanxi Normal University

Founded in 1944, Shaanxi Normal University (SNU) is one of the most comprehensive universities in China’s northwest region and home to over 40,000 students. SNU offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs in Chinese foreign language and literature, international politics, history, cultural studies, geography, natural sciences, economics, engineering, and other disciplines. Located in Xi’an’s scenic college district, SNU is conveniently near public transportation, parks, shopping, and scenic spots such as Xi’an Botanical Gardens and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. SNU’s campus has been named “the greenest campus in Xi’an.”

Fall and Spring Curriculum

This 15-credit program Alliance program offers students 9 class hours per week of Chinese language as well as the opportunity to explore the historical confluences of geography, ethnicity, and religion in a city that is culturally distinct from the coastal megacities. Combining structured coursework, directed research, and an exhilarating two-week field study trip along the Silk Road, the Alliance’s Xi’an program takes students off the beaten path and introduces them to China’s essence – old and new.

Students must enroll in:

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

Core Course

ANTH350 The Silk Road Yesterday and Today (required, 3 class hours/week, 3 credits)

The "Silk Road" is synonymous with over a millennium and a half of cultural, religious, and economic exchange linking East and Central Asia with the Mediterranean. It was not only a route for the trade of luxury goods but also the source of a rich interchange of art, religion, ideas, and people. This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to the multi-dimensional history of the Silk Road by focusing on the geography of trade routes, the spread of Buddhist religious and artistic influences, and the influence of Mediterranean explorers like Marco Polo. Students have the opportunity to explore first-hand the historical and contemporary legacy of the Silk Road through various fieldtrips in and around Xi'an and during the two-week Silk Road field study trip.

Elective Courses

All elective courses are taught in English and meet for three class hours per week. Class lectures, readings, and discussions are complemented with relevant fieldwork and site visits. Students must enroll in two from the following list.   Please note that not all electives may be offered in a given semester depending on enrollment and faculty availability.  Students are encouraged to identify alternative electives when they complete their Course Preference Form. 

RELG330 Islamic Studies (3 class hours/week, 3 credits)

Starting with an introduction to Islam, this course explores the diversity of practices among Sunni and Shia Muslims in different regions of the world, as well as Sufi interpretations and practices. The focus then shifts to the examination of the history of Islam in China, contemporary Chinese Muslim communities, how Islam is practiced and perceived in China today, and the relationship between Islam and the Chinese state throughout history and today. This course also explores the ways in which Islamic practices and traditions have been influenced by other religions and cultural traditions in China, and the influence of prominent Chinese Muslims on Chinese history and culture.

LITR260 Classical to Contemporary Chinese Literature (3 class hours/week, 3 credits)

This course explores the finest literary works of Chinese history but also includes fascinating fictional writings in Chinese American literature, providing a view of China through the lens of Western literature. From the writings of Confucius and Laozi to the tales of Pu Songling, Cao Xueqin, Lu Xun, and Zhang Ailing, students roam from the realms of the metaphysical to the romantic and the fantastic, the cynical and the realistic. Discussions shed light upon important issues in the previous dynasties as well as those in modern and contemporary Chinese society.

HIST375 Center of the World: Thirteen Dynasties of Xi'an as Imperial Capital (3 class hours/week, 3 credits)

This course introduces students to the early history of Chinese civilization and specifically Shaanxi Province, from the Neolithic Period up to the Golden Age of the Tang Dynasty. Through class discussions and visits to local historic and prehistoric sites, students look at how civilization developed across China and at the interactions between Shaanxi and other parts of East Asia. Additionally, students examine how we know what we know by looking at archaeological and historical research methods both in China and the West. By taking an interdisciplinary approach, which includes aspects of archaeology, history, and art history, students gain a thorough appreciation and understanding of early Chinese history.

RELG340 Religion and Community in China (3 class hours/week, 3 credits)

Xi’an is home to several major Buddhist temples and monasteries as well as one of China’s oldest and most important mosques, sustaining a thriving Muslim community since the days when Islam first became known in China. According to legend, the sage Laozi wrote much of the Tao Te Ching nearby. Xi'an has a substantial Christian population and, at times, has also been home to communities of Jews, Zoroastrians, and Manicheans. Focusing on the relationships among religious groups, between religious institutions and the imperial state, and the present state of religious practice in Xi’an, students examine the ways in which these communities have borrowed from and influenced one another.

ANTH370 Ethnicity and Identity in Northwestern China (3 class hours/week, 3 credits)

As the imperial capital for many centuries, Xi’an has long been an important crossroads for people from throughout China, Central Asia, and the Middle East. The city’s prominent Hui community trace their ancestry back to Silk Road traders from Persia and Arabia. To the west, along the Silk Road, are vibrant longstanding communities who now describe themselves as Uyghurs, Tibetans, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Dongxiang, Mongolian, Tajik, and more. By examining different theories and methods used in defining and determining individual ethnicity and ethnic groups - and the idea of what it means to be “Chinese” - students gain a more nuanced understanding of the communities that surround them.

Language Courses

Chinese Language (required, 9 class 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.

Please find the draft versions of the 6 credit hour course syllabi below. Check back soon for the final versions.

CHIN321 Specialized Chinese Language (3 class hours/week, 3 credits)

This course focuses on developing Chinese language skills through systematic study to meet each individual student’s academic requirements. Students may delve more deeply into Chinese phonetics, grammar, vocabulary, or syntax through a variety of Chinese language sources such as classical texts and poetry or newspapers and popular media. Available for students at the 201 Chinese level or higher.

Faculty

Prof. Daniele Chiapello, ANTH 350: The Silk Road Yesterday and Today
HIST 375: Center of the World: Thirteen Dynasties of Xi'an as Imperial Capital

Dr. Wu Jin, LITR 260: Classical to Contemporary Chinese Literature

Dr. Ma Qiang, RELG 330: Islamic Studies 

 

 

Capstone Research Project

One important and distinctive component of the Alliance's semester-long programs in China is the Capstone Academic Research Project. Capstone projects challenge students to engage with Chinese people and deepen their own understanding of one aspect of Chinese policy, society, culture, or business practice.

The Capstone Project is a research project that makes use of more than academic readings and published research. While these are important components of research and should be included in the project, the Capstone is meant to help students take advantage of their setting. Students use resources they would not have access to at their home universities. Students also incorporate interviews, participant observation, and other methods to create a final paper and presentation. Many students develop their Capstone as part of a senior thesis or broader future research project.

The Capstone Project is a graded component of the required core course taught in English, The Silk Road Yesterday and Today, 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.

Summer core courses do not include a Capstone component.

Featured Capstone

Jeffrey Harmon (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

"Of all the ethnic minorities within China, the Hui people are the most widespread and one of the most populous; yet who they are and what defines them is still misunderstood, oftentimes simplified to “the people who don’t eat pork.” Being in Xi’an, I was able to walk through the vibrant Hui District and visit their historic mosque; walking around campus, I would often see girls wearing colorful headscarves. Through my Capstone project, I researched what it has meant historically to be Hui, both from an ethnic and a religious standpoint, how those understandings have changed with the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and give some thoughts on how these concepts may be changing with today’s rapid modernization. "

Examples of Student Capstones in Xi'an

  • A Brief Examination of Uyghur Language Status in China
  • Musical Exchange along the Silk Road
  • Islam and the Silk Road:  The Emergence of the Uyghur Minority
  • Buddhism’s Journey to the East
  • The Spice Story
  • Who was Marco Polo?
  • The Preservation of the Tarim Basin Mummies Explained
  • Pillaging the Silk Road:  Reflections and Observations of the Impact of Tourism
  • Trading Trading Languages
  • The Modern Silk Road:  Transfer of Know-How and Technology from the West

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.

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.

Academic Calendar

Program Dates

  • Spring 2014 term: February 12 - June 9
  • 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 Xi'an Program Calendar

  • Suggested flight departure: February 11
  • Arrival in Beijing: February 12
  • Orientation program in Beijing: February 12-16
  • Classes begin: February 17
  • Mid-term Exams: April 11
  • Independent Travel Weekend*: April 12-14
  • Field Study Trip*: May 3-16
  • Last day of final exams: June 6
  • Students may depart: June 7
  • Students must move out of housing (by 12 noon): June 9
* Organized trip dates are subject to change at any time.

2014 Fall Xi'an Program Calendar

  • Suggested flight departure: August 26
  • Arrival in Beijing: August 27
  • Orientation: August 27-30
  • Classes begin: September 1
  • Field Study Trip*: October 5-18
  • Mid-term Exams: October 24
  • Independent Travel week*: November 7-10
  • Final exams: December 15-19
  • 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   $ 13,990
Fall 2014 Program   $ 13,990

What's Included

The program price includes tuition and fees, pre-departure materials, guidance with applying for a visa, orientation, housing, weekly activities and any program excursions, all textbooks, the services of a full-time Resident Director, medical and evacuation insurance, and a two-week Field Study Trip.

The program price does not include airfare to China, meals, passport and visa fees, independent travel, and other items not mentioned as included.

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 on campus in a campus hotel/dormitory building. The SNU dormitory building is located on the residential side of campus and is surrounded by restaurants, a convenience store, and the campus medical clinic. The dormitory building is a 10 minute walk from the campus athletic fields (soccer, basketball, tennis courts, ping pong tables, and badminton) and gymnasium, and an 8 to 10 minute walk from the Alliance office and classroom building. Each dorm room will house one Alliance student and one Chinese roommate. Dorm rooms are equipped with a private bathroom and shower, cable, internet, television, beds, desks, cabinetry, and heating/AC. Pillows, blankets and bed sheets are provided by the dorm. Towels are not provided. Laundry facilities and a shared kitchen are located in the dorm building.

Chinese Roommates

A distinctive feature of the Xi’an program is the chance to live with a Chinese roommate, opening the door for students to engage in language and cultural exchange with their new friends. As with all roommate situations, a level of initiative, effort and open communication is required on the student's part to build this relationship. Chinese roommates may be invited to attend many of the organized activities and may also assist with Chinese language learning. In addition, many of the roommates—who are selected from Shaanxi Normal University’s student body—major in teaching Chinese as a foreign language, which gives them insight into the process of learning Chinese.

 

Food and Meals

Meals are not included in the Alliance program fee. Many students eat in the several cafeterias on campus that offer a variety of meal options. Meals are inexpensive (about $1 per meal) and plentiful. Students also eat in local restaurants, especially those on the street adjacent to the campus. Students should budget at least $6 per day for meals, which will allow them to eat some meals off campus at local restaurants, if desired. There are many traditional Chinese restaurants nearby, as well as a small number of American, Korean, Indian and Italian options. Former students suggest trying Rou Jia Mo (a traditional pork or beef sandwich), Bing Fen (a typical Xi'an orange drink), and thousand layer bread. In addition, there is a grocery store located in front of the dorms where everyday items and snacks can be purchased.

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.

  

What Students Have to Say: 

"Chinese food is pretty much the best thing ever.  It’s fresh, cheap, pretty healthy, and completely different than American Chinese food.  Typically meals are about $2 or less, so we’ve been eating a lot of dumplings, noodles, and rice. 

One day, however, my friend and I caved in and bought pizza from a Western café.  It was delicious and I’d really missed cheese, but it was also extremely expensive.  A personal pizza was about 33 kuai, which is the equivalent of $5. That might not sound completely outrageous, but one of our favorite restaurants sells a plate of dumplings for 5 kuai, so I could have had almost 7 plates of dumplings for the price of that one small pizza!"

-Susan Cherry (Denison University) 

Local Activities

Throughout the term, students are invited to take part in a full schedule of excursions, events and lectures designed to enhance their understanding of China and the historical and modern influences that impact its culture and people.

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.

In and Around Xi’an

The ancient and modern metropolis of Xi'an offers a wealth of destinations and activities. Whether walking or biking around the top of the City Wall, exploring the sights and people-watching, or strolling in one of the many outdoor markets, sampling local street food and making new friends, Xi'an is full of surprises. Below is a sampling of activities from previous semesters. Specific activities for future terms are subject to change:

Terra Cotta Warriors and Tomb of the First Qin Emperor

Arguably one of China's most famous and popular tourist sites, the Terracotta Warriors are among the top archaeological excavations of the 20th Century. Located at the foot of the Mountain Li and 2 km west of the Terracotta army, is the tomb of the Qin Emperor. The Warriors were built to protect this tomb.

Shaanxi History Museum

The Shaanxi History Museum offers a full display of historic relics excavated mainly in Shaanxi province. The exhibition depicts Shaanxi history through seven distinct sections, from 1 million years ago through the year 1840. Thirteen ruling dynasties established their capitals in Shaanxi province essentially making the ancient history of Shaanxi a highly condensed version of Chinese history.

City Wall Bike Tour

The Xi'an City Wall is not only the most complete city wall in China but also one of the largest and most complete ancient military systems of defense in the world. Biking the circumfrence of the wall allows for magnificent city views. 

The Great Mosque Tour

The Great Mosque in Xi’an, located northwest of the Drum Tower (Gu Lou), is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved Islamic mosques in China. Moslem Street (Huimin Jie) is an old street paved with bluestone plate, on both sides of which stand a row of Muslim restaurants decorated in Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasty styles. This lively street lined with vendors is the best place in Xi’an to taste local snacks.

Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Tang Paradise Tour

Situated in the Da Ci'en Temple, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (also called the Da Ci'en Temple Pagoda) is one of the most famous Buddhist pagodas in China. The north square of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda has the biggest music fountain in Asia. Tang Paradise is a beautiful park with the significant cultural heritage of Tang Dynasty. Outdoor movies and fireworks can be enjoyed there nightly.

Small Wild Goose Pagoda and Xi’an History Museum Tour

The Small Wild Goose Pagoda stands in Jian Fu Temple, one kilometer south of the downtown area. If the Big Wild Goose Pagoda can be compared to a stalwart young man, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda is then like a delicate, slim girl. The new and high tech Xi’an History Museum is located in the park of the Small Wild Goose Pagoda.

Lishan and Huashan Mountain Hiking

Mount Lishan is on the north side of Mount Qinling and, at its highest peak, reaches 1,256 meters. The shape of the mountain is said to resemble a horse, hence the name which translates as “Black Horse Mountain”. At a height of 2,160 meters and about 120 km east of Xi'an, stands Huashan, or Flower Mountain.

Huxian Farmer Style Painting

Huxian, a small town of about 150,000 people, is a 45 minute bus ride from Xi’an. Huxian is known for having one the two most famous farmer style paintings in China. Visiting Huxian is a wonderful opportunity to meet with Chinese folk artists, observe their work, and experience the life style of traditional northwestern China.

Silk Road Field Study Trip

The Xi’an program includes a two-week Silk Road Field Study Trip that allows students the exciting opportunity to see first-hand many of the historic trading, religious and artistic sites that they learn about in the core course, The Silk Road Yesterday and Today. This unique study trip brings the Silk Road course to life and provides an opportunity to learn not only about history but also development, politics and modernization. As part of the Capstone Project, students continue to investigate an area of particular interest during this trip.

While the specific itinerary for the Silk Road varies each semester, students typically travel to locations throughout Gansu and Xinjiang provinces. To provide you with a glimpse into what sites you may visit, here are highlights from previous trips:

  • Kashgar: Grand International Bazaar, where students had plenty of time to practice their Chinese bargaining for items from Kashgar knives to Pashmina scarves; 15th century Id Kah Mosque; overnight stays at former Russian consulate; Old City, a well preserved traditional Islamic city made largely of earth mixed with grass.
  • Kalakuli Lake: Located nearly 13,000 feet above sea level, the mountains here are covered in snow topped off by azure sky. Students enjoyed a hike around the lake and slept in a yurt overnight.
  • Dunhuang: Students were given a guided tour of the Mogao Caves before riding camels into the desert. Students camped overnight with dinner around a campfire after climbing a huge sand dune together. We also visited a local art gallery with a tour provided by the gallery’s artist and biked to the White Horse Temple. In their free time, students visited the city’s bazaar and food district.
  • Xiahe: Labrang Temple; Zuohai Monastery with lecture from head of monastery who is a “living Buddha”; ancient city walls and surrounding scenic area; lunch at local Tibetan family’s house with question-and-answer session about Tibetan culture (also rode horses); hike on a sacred mountain nearby.

Alliance alumnus Jeffrey shared his Field Study Trip experience on his blog in a four-part series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

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!

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

Kaedi Love

Xi'an and the Silk Road
University of Tulsa – Philosophy Major

Hey, guys! My name's Kaedi Love and I studied abroad in Xi'an Fall 2013. I'm a philosophy major from the University of Tulsa. I had quite the series of adventures - particularly in learning the Chinese language from the beginning! I'm...

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Hey, guys! My name's Kaedi Love and I studied abroad in Xi'an Fall 2013. I'm a philosophy major from the University of Tulsa. I had quite the series of adventures - particularly in learning the Chinese language from the beginning! I'm excited to continue my work with the Alliance. hide

Emily Weaver

Xi'an and the Silk Road
Ohio University – Global Studies Major

Hey guys, my name is Emily Weaver and I am a Global Studies major with a focus on East Asia at Ohio University. I was part of the Xi'an and the Silk Road: Globalization Then and Now group. If you have any questions about chilling at Chinese...

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Hey guys, my name is Emily Weaver and I am a Global Studies major with a focus on East Asia at Ohio University. I was part of the Xi'an and the Silk Road: Globalization Then and Now group. If you have any questions about chilling at Chinese hospitals for hours on end or being the unofficial event planner of the group, I'm your girl! I'm looking forward to sharing my experience and advice with new/prospective Alliance students. Cheers! hide

Phillip Brenfleck

Xi'an and the Silk Road
University of Puget Sound – East Asian Studies Major

大 家好! My name is Phillip and I'm a senior at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. I'm focusing on Asian Studies (mainly Chinese) and...

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大 家好! My name is Phillip and I'm a senior at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. I'm focusing on Asian Studies (mainly Chinese) and Environmental Policy. I've been studying Chinese since freshman year of high school, and my interest in everything Chinese has just snowballed ever since. I just recently finished an incredible Spring semester abroad with the Alliance in 西安 Xi'an. The experience was revelatory (to say the least!) and I look forward to my triumphant return to the Tang Dynasty capital.

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Anthony Smith

Xi'an and the Silk Road
Arcadia University – Graphic Design Major

What's up everybody. I'm a senior at Arcadia University majoring in Graphic Design and minoring in communications. I participated in the Xi'an Silk Road program, traveling...

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What's up everybody. I'm a senior at Arcadia University majoring in Graphic Design and minoring in communications. I participated in the Xi'an Silk Road program, traveling through many places in China. I'm from Philadelphia and I never thought I'd be able to travel abroad especially so far as China! It seemed impossible but with the opportunity given by the Alliance, I took advantage of this experience that completely changed my outlook and mindset. As a person who could hardly speak any Chinese before going, I'm not considering double majoring In Chinese and visiting China again in the near future. I'd be happy to help other students obtain this same amazing experience I received. hide

Lauren English

Xi'an and the Silk Road
Arcadia University – Psychology Major

你 好!My name is Lauren and I am a senior at Arcadia University majoring in Psychology. During the Spring 2013 semester, I studied in Xi'an, China...

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你 好!My name is Lauren and I am a senior at Arcadia University majoring in Psychology. During the Spring 2013 semester, I studied in Xi'an, China in the Silk Road program. The Alliance not only helped me pursue my dream, but also opened a world of possibilities to me. Travelling on the 2 week trip along the Silk Road taught me so much more than just the history of China. I had a once in a lifetime chance to see areas of the world that most people would never have the opportunity to see. The Alliance program offered many amazing opportunities, the staff was incredible, and I made lifelong friends and memories. I look forward to sharing my experiences and helping prospective students as they embark on their own journeys.

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Connor Smith

Xi'an and the Silk Road
Southwestern University – Environmental Science Major

Christopher Seto

Xi'an and the Silk Road
University of Maryland Baltimore County – Computer Science Major

Hello everyone! I'm Chris, a senior at UMBC. Studying abroad through Alliance was the greatest experience of my...

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Hello everyone! I'm Chris, a senior at UMBC. Studying abroad through Alliance was the greatest experience of my life! I work in the Study Abroad Office, live on the Intercultural Language Exchange floor (though I probably don't practice Chinese as much as I should...), and I'm the president of the Wushu/Tai Chi Club as well as the Federation of Martial Arts on campus. Below is video I made a couple months ago that introduces myself a bit better and explains my experience abroad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CO6sE7otjU. hide

Jordan Sharp

Xi'an and the Silk Road
Union University – Linguistics Major

My name is Jordan Sharp. I am an Applied Linguistics major at Union University and I attended the Xi’an Summer 2011 study abroad experience.  Before applying to the Alliance, I was very interested in China and studying Chinese, and I wanted...

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My name is Jordan Sharp. I am an Applied Linguistics major at Union University and I attended the Xi’an Summer 2011 study abroad experience.  Before applying to the Alliance, I was very interested in China and studying Chinese, and I wanted to find a program that would allow me to not only further my studies in Chinese, but also be immersed in the culture and learn more about China.  The Alliance program provided me with the opportunity for this and so much more in one of the most memorable summers I have ever had.  One of the best aspects of my experience was that I got to learn while being surrounded by a great group of classmates, Chinese roommates, teachers, and our RD.  Overall, the Alliance program greatly assisted me in being productive and efficient during my time in China.  After spending the summer with Alliance in China it furthered my desire to continue my Chinese studies and some day live in China. hide

Joseph Larrea

Xi'an and the Silk Road
Whittier College – English Major

Hello! My name is Joseph Larrea. I’m a Junior at Whittier College in Whittier, California. I started studying Chinese in College, initially as a fun way to complete my foreign language requirement, but quickly became very serious about the...

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Hello! My name is Joseph Larrea. I’m a Junior at Whittier College in Whittier, California. I started studying Chinese in College, initially as a fun way to complete my foreign language requirement, but quickly became very serious about the language. I’ve travelled to China twice, first on a school trip and the second time while studying abroad with the Alliance Program. During these two trips I’ve covered a lot of ground, visiting cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Guangzhou, Guilin, Kashgar, Urumqi, Dunhuang, and many others. I chose to study in China with the Alliance Program on the recommendation of my professors and study abroad advisor. I chose the Xi’an Program because I wanted to travel along the Silk Road. I couldn’t be happier with my decision. Although I struggled initially speaking the language and adjusting to the culture, I was helped along by my wonderful teachers and program directors who were not only my guides and mentors, but also became dear friends to me. In my semester with the Alliance Program I travelled far and wide, had wonderful adventures, met countless friends, and made tremendous strides towards my eventual goal of becoming fluent in Mandarin Chinese. Now that I am back home, I am already making plans to return to China after graduation in order to teach English. I am happy to share my experience with anyone who is considering coming to China. hide

Bryan Gaither

Xi'an and the Silk Road
Carlow University – Art History Major

It had always been a dream of mine to travel and experience a culture with five thousand years of history and wisdom, mystery and art. China had always been of particular interest to me and eastern philosophy, art and religion had a profound impact on...

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It had always been a dream of mine to travel and experience a culture with five thousand years of history and wisdom, mystery and art. China had always been of particular interest to me and eastern philosophy, art and religion had a profound impact on me throughout my life. After researching several programs, I determined that the Alliance for Global Education and the Xi’an program was the most credible and had the most potential. From the beginning process of applying for the program to time of departure, the Alliance staff was quick to respond to any of my questions or concerns and provided a pre-departure list that included everything that I would need to travel and live in China.

Once I arrived, our Alliance directors took us to local restaurants that served delicious food, markets that had everything we might need, stores we could shop at and explained where we could find any materials we might need for our classes. Throughout the program, the Alliance Staff in China went out of their way to make sure that I, as well as all other students, were comfortable and had everything we needed to communicate with other students and family back home. So many activities were offered and provided with an opportunity to meet our Chinese roommates and make friends. Not only did I learn Chinese, I learned Chinese calligraphy, 24 movements of Yang style Taijiquan, traveled across three provinces of China, saw the terra cotta warriors, had dinner with a nomadic family, camped in the desert, danced in Kashgar, visited the Mogao grottoes, and the list goes on!

If you want to experience mainland China, visit places you have only read about in history books, and have the experience of a lifetime and improve your Chinese, the Alliance for Global Education is the best Program without a doubt. After returning home, I registered to study Chinese at the University of Pittsburgh and after three months of study in China, my advisors are suggesting I skip the whole first year of Chinese and move to second year! The program surpassed any expectations that I had and made new opportunities I had not yet conceived of possible. hide

Read Student Blogs

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

 

Susan Cherry

Xi'an and the Silk Road
Denison University – Economics

Emily Weaver

Xi'an and the Silk Road
Ohio University Athens – Global Studies Major

Kaedi Love

Xi'an and the Silk Road
University of Tulsa – Philosophy Major

Phillip Brenfeck

Xi'an and the Silk Road
University of Puget Sound – Chinese and Environmental Policy Major

Claire Dunnigan

Xi'an and the Silk Road
Mount Holyoke College – International Relations Major

Anthony Smith

Xi'an and the Silk Road
Arcadia University – Graphic Design Major

Aaron Morton-Wilson

Xi'an and the Silk Road
– English Major

Richelle Gamlam

Xi'an and the Silk Road
George Washington University – International Affairs

Margo Smutnick

Xi'an and the Silk Road
Norwich University – International Studies, Political Science

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