Learn Chinese in a Chinese university
How long do you want to study Chinese ? One month to begin your learning of the language with a very good start and the good accent (once you get an accent, it will stay forever, so you better get it right the first time), or four years to be able to read and write better than the Chinese themselves ?
The possible durations are:
- One month during the summer or winter holidays
- Five months (the first or second semester of the year)
- One year, or more (up to Four - sometimes Five)
You will have to pay an application fee and a study fee (a medium price is about 15000￥ a year), but also the books that are used during the courses (more or less 1000￥). Then you room and your meals (about 25000￥ a year). Of course this may vary a lot according to the city you stay, so check in the university page to have the details. It's more expensive in Beijing and Shanghai than Qingdao and Kunming. And it's very cheap in Rizhao and Juxian (but a little bit boring too, and the good doctors are hard to find).
Check how much Chinese Yuan your currency can buy at xe.com
Usually the payment of the tuition fee is made during the week before the beginning of the semester, at the time of your arrival. This is also the time you will pass a test checking your Chinese proficiency (if you want to skip the first levels) and when you buy the books. So be sure to have the cash ready ;-)
You may have from 12 to 20 hours a week. Be sure to check before paying the fee. If the semester is cheap that's probably because there are less hours than elsewhere.
Also one hour is in fact 50 minutes of teaching and 10 minutes of resting. Some universities or schools may use hours of 45 minutes and rests periods of 5 minutes. So a program of "3 hours a day" may end up beginning at 8h00 and finishing at 10h25.
The teachers often use good books and are dedicated. There is not often language labs and multimedia materials. But it doesn't really matter because you have far better: the whole Chinese world surrounds you and you have 24 hours a day to practice everything you want.
The most challenging task is probably to stop using English too often.
In the university dormitories, there are always double rooms, and often single rooms. The buildings may be brand new or ... not that new. There are sometimes some big surprises but most of the time it's absolutely comfortable.
One of our students relate: at 5 in the morning, the building suddenly began to shake and make a terrible noise. But I was the only one to be worried, as nobody did go out of his room to see what was happening. I realized later that it was a huge diesel water heater on the rooftop that was in action, readying our hot water for the morning. After 3 days I was sleeping over like the others.
If you stay the whole year, the price per day will be probably cheaper than if you stay a short time. So you must know when you arrive how long you plan to stay. It is common for the students to stay one or two months in the dormitories and then co-rent an apartment outside the university. That way everybody has his own room for a good price and without the curfew.
Yes there is a curfew, usually at 23h00, but it's loose the Friday and Saturday evening for the international students. Still, it is better not to wake up the guard too often.
The university restaurants offer a wide variety of Chinese food at a very good price. You can survive easily with 25￥a day. And then there is the horde of restaurants outside the walls, that offer some of the best food in the world (yes the delicious food itself will make your stay in China memorable, and then there are all the other things...).
Older students are very welcome, however the universities may ask you to sign some discharge and may not provide basic insurance if you are more than 60 years old.