China is a land of opportunity and great for those with a sense of adventure and an eye on an international career. In fact, China does tend to attract a certain breed of foreigner: highly ambitious, adventurous and excellent at solving problems!
While China is a world economic powerhouse, it’s still technically a developing country and there are lot of great opportunities you won’t find so easily in developed countries. This includes TV cameos, rock star like receptions in small cities as the token foreigner, exciting job opportunities and a lot of curiously from the locals – especially in the provinces. While the cost of living is going up quickly, China is still a much cheaper option than Japan, Korea, and Singapore.
Shanghai attracts young people who are interested in high culture, fashion, finance and juicy good dumplings, while Hipsters and hard-core language learners tend to gravitate to the capital Beijing. Even more hard-core language learners go the provinces where they can escape the expat bubble to hone their language skills on a government scholarship and to save some coin.
Life in China though can be challenging due to pollution levels and cultural challenges, but don’t let this deter you from taking one of the best life investments you can make! Life in China will excite, challenge and engage you, not to mention all to the amazing food, history and warm hospitality of the locals!
5 China Highlights
- Living in a Hutong in Beijing
- KTV sessions with your classmates from all corners of the globe
- Riding an e-bike in the buzzing CBD on your way to the office
- 5 RMB beers and street food with your friends on a warm summer night
- Trying new amazing good that is completely different from province to province
If you haven’t received any funding towards your studies in China then you probably haven’t done your research! The good news is that the Chinese Government and Confucius Institute hand out scholarships like hotcakes, Chinese universities and universities abroad offer scholarships to study on exchange and there are a number of well-funded Australian Government scholarships available as well, including the New Colombo Plan Scholarship.
For Australian students, Asia Options recommends Endeavour Scholarships (post-grad, VET, professional development) and New Colombo Plan Scholarship (undergrad) scholarships. For school leavers and non-Australians, Confucius Institute Scholarships and Chinese Government Scholarships are your best bet. As American institutes operating in China, The Hopkins Nanjing Center, NYU Shanghai and the Inter-University Program (IUP) are more difficult to attain funding for but are all excellent programs to consider. These programs are expensive but tuition waivers are generally offered and Australian Government scholarships can be utilised to study at IUP. The Schwarzman Scholars Program is also a new prestigious program which has just launched for Chinese, American and international postgrad students to study at Tsinghua University.
- Euan Crone Asian Awareness Scholarship (AIIA members)
- Chinese Government Scholarship (open to all nationalities)
- Confucius Institute Scholarship (open to all nationalities)
- Endeavour Scholarships (Australian postgraduate, VET, professional development)
- Hong Kong PhD Scholarship (qualified applicants)
- New Colombo Plan Scholarship (Australian undergraduate students)
- Renmin University/ACYA MBA Scholarship (ACYA members)
- Schwarzman Scholars (postgraduate students, open to all nationalities)
- Victorian Government Hamer Scholarship (Victorian students)
- Walter Mangold Scholarship (Australian undergraduate students)
WHERE TO STUDY CHINESE
In a country as huge and diverse as China, choosing where to study is a big decision. Your final choice can have a huge impact on your overall experience in China, as well as future study and professional outcomes.
Researching where to study and understanding what you want to take away from your time in China is step one in choosing where’s the best program or city to learn Chinese. For some people, this may equate to full-time employment post-study or the cultural experience of living in a Hutong in Beijing, and for others on a tight budget and penchant for authentic and tasty Chinese cuisine, there are plenty of alternatives to the major international cities. Other important factors to consider are the cost of living (particularly rent), campus location, non-academic opportunities, local dialects, university rankings, and reputation.
There are certainly many factors to take into account, and perhaps most important is whether to enrol in a university or a private institution. There are both advantages and disadvantages to each depending on what you want to achieve. The Asia Options team have created a Chinese Language Program Review section to help point you in the right direction and we have reviewed a number of university and private Chinese language programs.
- Where to study in China and how to pick the right university
- AddChina | Undergrad & Postgrad Study Options in China
- A Winter Well Invested: Antai Global Summer School
- Beijing Language & Culture University
- Chongqing University of Technology
- East China Normal University
- Joy Mandarin Center
- My Chinese Study
- Nanjing Normal University
- Nanjing University
- Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Peking University
- Suzhou/Soochow University
- Tianjin Normal University
- Tsinghua IUP Program
- Xiamen University
Learning Chinese is by no means easy, but Asia Options can walk you through the best options and methods to learning Chinese.
- Absolute beginners guide to learning Chinese
- Hello Talk language exchange app review
- Why 6am and daily rituals is key to learning a language
- Language Exchange Meetups Guide
- What other languages can I study in China. See our top 5.
The Chinese Government Scholarship is one option to consider for those looking for a free postgrad degree in China and for those with the financial freedom there is a growing selection of alternative and high caliber programs to choose from. For international relations enthusiasts and academic students of economics and law, there’s no going past the Hopkins Nanjing Center (HNC). HNC is a joint US-China program with over 25 years history and can boast of being the only university in China with freedom of speech and an uncensored library. For business students, Tsinghua University, Fudan University and Peking University offer excellent MBA and Executive MBA programs. Macquarie University offers a series of finance post-graduate programs at their Qinghua campus taught in Mandarin. Possibly the best program in China for business students is the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB). This program, with campuses in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, attracts top notch professors from China and around the world as well as offering regular company visits to major companies such as Baidu and GE Motors.
- Introductory Guide to Postgraduate Study in China
- Hopkins Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies
- Hong Kong PhD Scholarship
- Renmin University/ACYA MBA Scholarship
- Chinese Government Scholarships
- Schwarzman Scholars
The Australia-China space is awash with valuable opportunities to gain volunteer and leadership experience in the China space. For students, young professionals, and even budding translators there’s an amazing range of opportunities available. To get involved with the organisations below, keep an eye on their website and social media channels or send a direct enquiry outlining your interest in getting involved. China also has a wide range of volunteer programs to consider in rural and urban areas.
- Australia China Youth Association- Get Involved
- Australia China Youth Association (ACYA) – Personal Experience of Volunteering
- Engaging China Project (ECP)
- Australia China Young Professionals Initiative (ACYPI)
- Marco Polo Project for translators
- Young China Watchers
CONFERENCES & COMPETITIONS
There are a plethora of China conferences and language competitions and not even Asia Options can keep up and provide details on all of them! We have gathered a list we know well and trust but if you would like to write about your own experience of attending a youth conference in China or a Chinese language competition we would love to know and add it to the list!
- Australia China Youth Dialogue (ACYD)
- China Australia Millennial Project Summit (CAMP)
- APEC Youth Week
- The Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR)
- Asia Recon
- Australia China Emerging Leaders Summit
- Jiangsu Cup – A Window to China
- A look into the ACYA Victoria Bilingual Language Competition
- Cities in Asia Summer Programme
Whether you like it or not, networking can be fundamental to finding your next job, conducting business and developing mutual contacts. This is definitely the case for China. For a lot of young professionals in China, finding their next job, business leads and even next romance can often be traced back to a Chamber of Commerce or young professional networking mixer!
The China internship scene has changed markedly in recent years. Due to recent changes in visa regulations, it is now more problematic for young people to attain the appropriate visa support to secure a 2-4 month internship in China. Compliance issues have scared off a number of China internship host companies or brought an end to companies wheeling and dealing in the internship matching game for foreigners. However, there is still robust demand for foreign interns and especially from foreign companies and internships are one of the most effective pathways to finding full-time employment in China. The door into companies, however, is not as easy as it once was through formal programs but there are still plenty of opportunities around. Smaller companies often hold a set internship program and for bigger companies, it’s normally a matter of knowing the right people or simply knocking on the door. In terms of breaking into a company for an internship in China, the best way is to ask around via any contacts you have, attend Chamber networking events, look online on job sites such as JingJobs, and be proactive in personally contacting companies via telephone and not email!
- AustCham Beijing Internship Program
- Carnegie–Tsinghua Center Internship
- Kopra – Excellent resource for internships, particularly for those from EU nations but also other nationalities as well. Lists opportunities not just for China but all over East Asia.
- Australia China Youth Association Internships
- Peking University Australian Studies Centre Internship Program
- Up-close with Austern International
Finding a job in China as a foreigner is not always straightforward but as long as you have the right approach and attitude, it will just be a matter of time before a good company snaps you up! Teaching jobs in China are readily available if you meet the visa requirements and this offers a financially lucrative career or entry point into China. In regards to non-teaching jobs in China, there is a wide selection of foreign companies operating in China seeking young talent, as well as a blossoming local tech and entrepreneurial scene to consider. Jobs for foreigners in Chinese companies, especially tech companies including Alibaba and Huawei, are also on the rise as these companies pursue global expansion. Due to recent government employment policy changes, obtaining a work visa in China can be a potential barrier for those with less than two years full-time work experience in their country of origin but many still overcome this.
- How to get a non-teaching job in China for Australians
- How to find internships and non-teaching jobs in China
- How to prepare your resume and interview to work in China
- Exit strategies for China
- How to sell your China experience
- Interning and tips on dealing with China visa regulations
- 6 reasons to get involved with start ups in Asia
- What’s the minimum level of fluency for finding work in China?
- Expats to complement haigui employees at TNCs in China
- AustCham Beijing Jobs Board (professional jobs and internships in China)
- Atlas China (a recruitment agency which offers a free job matching service for Mandarin speaking professionals, often startup and tech focused)
- Australia China Alumni Association Job Board (Asia Options’ choice for the best jobs and internships in China for Australians)
- Australia China Youth Association Careers Portal (jobs and internships in China)
- (big corporate recruiter)
- Jing Jobs (well-curated site with jobs and internships in China)
- Seek (jobs and internships in the Asia Pacific, you can narrow your search down to ‘China’)
- The Beijinger (jobs and internships in Beijing – a lot of teaching jobs)
Short-term accommodation can sometimes be difficult to secure in China, so most students on their first stint in China opt for dormitory accommodation on campus. Dorm life is usually lots of fun, however, there may be limited cooking options and you are not always guaranteed to get your own private room. Most students, however, are able to secure a single room (especially if they present themselves at the relevant office on the first day of university registration) and international student dorms never have more than two students per room.
To find accommodation outside of the universities campuses, expat websites such as The Beijinger are your go-to-resource but be careful who you approach. Expat websites can be a minefield of unscrupulous agents posting fake photos and taking you on a wild goose chase on the back of their E-bike to look at rundown and overpriced accommodation. On top of that they will typically insist on a months’ rent as an introduction fee. Instead, Asia Options advises our readers to look for other foreigners on expat websites looking to fill a vacant room in a share house, or alternatively go to a major brick-and-mortar real estate agent. Most cities have real estate agents that can simplify the apartment-finding process, although an acceptable level of Chinese is generally required to negotiate this (for example, the agent 我爱我家 and 连家 have branches in many cities). There may in some cases still be an additional fee on top of monthly rent but this may be allocated to a weekly cleaner, wifi or other expenses which are considered fairly reasonable. The Australia China Youth Association WeChat groups in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing are also useful for sourcing accommodation in those particular cities through online word of mouth. For a full rundown on housing options and a snapshot of the housing market in Shanghai and Beijing for foreigners see our comprehensive guide below.
Sometimes the best way to brainstorm ideas and gain tips on how to engage with China is to talk to pioneering young people who have gone before you. Each person’s experience is different, but learning from their success and setbacks could well steer you into your next opportunity or stint in China.
- In conversation with Julia Steele: China Challenges (Skype interview)
- Elisa Giles on her exchange in Hong Kong
- Study and travel in China from a half-Chinese perspective
- The Chinese Bridge Mandarin proficiency competition: Interview with finalist Rebecca Morrison
- Studying Chinese in a second tier city
- Will Breedon on the Suzhou Hamer scholarship experience
- Australian student rocking on Feichang Wurao
- From the Big Band competition to work at Asialink, Will McCallum’s story
- Alice Slevison’s experience with AustCham Hong Kong
- ACYA-Peking Uni Australian Studies Centre Internship, Mark Eels shares his experience
- China Australia Millennial Project: Aspiring environmental engineer Kate Smith shares her highlights
- Lessons learned from launching my start up in China
- Jonathon Day and taking up the China challenge
- Hamer Scholarship China recipient: Wining & Dining China
- Doing Art in China – A WeChat interview with China Residencies
- Two to Three Inside Out – An Artist in Xiamen
- Ryan Cunningham on the New Colombo Plan in China