Tuition fees: RMB 6,400/half year; RMB 12,800/year
Application Fee: 300 RMB
Registration Fee: 200 RMB
The TJNU language program is very affordable and is almost half the cost of studying at the top universities in Beijing.
Located near the Olympic Stadium, the language program at Tianjin Normal University is oddly placed in a renovated hotel separate from the new main campus further out of the city. As a renovated hotel, the program’s accommodation was excellent by foreign dorm standards when it opened in 2010 but apparently it has already degraded in recent years. The majority of the foreign students live on campus/in the hotel, which is a one minute walk from your room to the classroom! Off campus options are available by asking around on campus and searching expat websites.
E-mart down the road offers a healthy selection of western food and there’s a good Chinese market down the road with plenty of yummy snacks. The tiny campus is also not too far away form the city centre and nightlife, about 15-20 minutes away by taxi. Beijing is a 25 minute bullet train ride away from Tianjin Station. It’s therefore possible to leave campus and zip into Beijing South Station in less than two hours. Don’t forget to bring your passport to purchase and collect tickets!
Teaching universities in China, denoted by the Normal university title, typically offer higher standards of teaching Chinese to foreigners. The TJNU language program has an excellent reputation and a strong record for blooding students into the China Bridge Language Proficiency Competition, including Ruth Njeri from Kenya, who went on to make a name for herself on Chinese television for her singing and Mandarin prowess.
TJNU offers an excellent study environment- with less party distractions than Beijing or Shanghai- and an easy place to lock yourself up in a room and knock out some hanzi. As foreign students are separated from local students, there is however a lack of campus atmosphere. The campus is relatively isolated from both the downtown area of Tianjin and the main campus.
Classes will be dominated by Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Turkish, Russians, Africans and students from Central Asia. Other than a handful of American students, there are very few western students and therefore little English spoken outside the classroom. There’s also plenty of opportunities to practise your Japanese and Korean with classmates.
There are a number of multinational companies based in the rapidly growing municipality of Tianjin. So there are potential internship opportunities around. Chambers of Commerce (AmCham and BritCham both run occasional events in Tianjin) would be an ideal starting point and we recommend joining their mailing list to keep up-to-date on upcoming events. Beijing is also close by which makes it easy to go for job interviews before the end of the semester. Again, if you have an eye on working in China and building your professional network we recommend attending Chamber events in Beijing on Friday nights.
Asia Options Verdict
The Tianjin Normal University Chinese language program itself is excellent but unfortunately TJNU doesn’t offer the all round study abroad experience as other programs do. Tianjin, while modern, doesn’t win any awards for beauty or exciting places to explore but this has picked up in recent years with developments along the Haihe River. We therefore only recommend Tianjin Normal University for those on the receiving end of a scholarship or if you are super determined to study Mandarin and indifferent to the other drawbacks.
High teaching standard
Ideal city to learn Chinese
Highly diligent admin staff
No campus atmosphere
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