This is your roadmap to opportunities in China.

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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 a 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.

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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 of the amazing food, history and warm hospitality of the locals!

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.


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 CenterNYU 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.

Learning Chinese

Learning Chinese is by no means easy, but Asia Options can walk you through the best options and methods to learning Chinese.

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.

Click here for the full overview of Mandarin language programs

Post-Graduate Study

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 calibre 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 of 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.


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!

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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.

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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 a 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!

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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.


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!

Accommodation Advice

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. TheAustralia 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.

Mentors & Peers

Outside of experiencing it for yourself, the best way to get a sense of China is through the eyes of others who have lived it. Check out our in-depth discussions with some of these people here.