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6 Destinations for Learning Chinese Abroad on a Budget

Because Guilin is relatively off the beaten path, its both an excellent budget destination, and a great place to immerse yourself in Mandarin. A big hearty bowl ofmifansoup, designed to fill up field workers and other manual laborers, is just thirty American cents. Prices all over the city are much, much lower than in the United States, and are easy on just about any Americans wallet.

Jason is a hockey player from Virginia, and his passport is a quilt of stamps and visas.

Chinese is the it language of the twenty-first century. With China poised to surpass the United States as the worlds number one economy in just a few short decades, and more and more international businesses requiring Mandarin proficiency of its executives alongside English, more and more American students are rushing tolearn Chinese abroad.

Thats why weve put together a list at the best budget destinations to learn Chinese abroad, including what makes these places great, what to expect from a study abroad there, and some first-hand testimonials from students who have already lived them. So lets get into it!

BrowseChinese language schools abroad.

But just because the Chinese economy is booming doesnt mean your own personal economy is. Plane tickets, tuition costs, and daily meals arent free — and we get it. Here at Go Overseas, we want to help all language learners find their perfect destination to learn Chinese abroad — not just those with nine-figure trust funds and big savings accounts.

Home of the Chinese National Silk Museum and the Chinese National Tea Museum, Hangzhou represents a more harmonious time in Chinese history when coexistence between the natural landscape and human society was a thoughtful one. This harmony is perhaps evident nowhere more strongly than the prominent West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tuition at theNational Taiwan Universitywill cost$1,080per season. The winter season costs a little less (its also shorter), with tution at$900.

Guilin is where I spent my ownbudget study abroadin China. Nestled in the ancient Karst mountains of Guangxi province in the south of China, its a veritable eden for language learning. Guilin has approximately the same population as the city of Washington, DC — which makes it a small city by Chinese standards, and its relatively unknown compared to the giants of Shanghai and Beijing.

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Maintaining a low cost of living is the responsibility of the student, but very doable. You are there to learn Chinese, though, and Shanghai delivers again, with some of the best universities and language schools in the whole country. With tons of language schools to choose from and language exchanges throughout the city, itll be easy to learn Chinese and stick to your budget.

Taiwan is the great, catch-all answer. I want to learn Chinese but Im a little apprehensive about mainland China, where should I go? Taiwan. I want to learn Chinese but Id like a mix of urban and more scenic environs, where should I go? Taiwan. Id like to learn Chinese, but Ive got a pretty tight budget and want to make the most of it, where should I go? Taiwan! Seriously, this island off the coast of China might just be your new top budget study abroad destination.

The former capital of ancient China, Xian is today a treasure trove of history, offering everything from ancient palaces and temples, to the world-famous wonder of the Terracotta Soldiers. Xian is basically Beijing lite — all the wonder of immersion in ancient Chinese culture, will hardly any of the trappings that make Beijing unattractive (rampant pollution, overcrowding, high cost).

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We want to help all language learners find their perfect destination to learn Chinese abroad — not just those with nine-figure trust funds and big savings accounts.

Want to visit Beijing because of all the history there? Want to see what life is like in the capital of China, where ancient emperors palace walls meet preserved relics, monuments, and glory?

Admittedly, when you think budget, you dont think of one of the hottest, most in-demand cities in the world. But thats what makes Shanghai so fantastic — its never what you expect of it that gets you hooked.

As for price, Hangzhou is primarily a Chinese city for Chinese citizens, so prices will seem low to most Americans.

A 2-week program withThe Chinese Language Institutewill cost$1,070and includes housing. Budget about$20per day for additional expenses.

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Away from the main city of Taipei, large swaths of Taiwan have a distinctly island feel, with relaxed dress codes, friendly locals, and low prices. So remember to take a look atstudying Chinese in Taiwanwhen choosing a destination — because after all, you can learn Chinese here, too!

Xian, due to its historical significance, also has a number of excellent Chinese language schools within its borders, so while not quite Beijing, there are still many options for language students to customize their experience within the classroom, as well as outside of it.

Because Guilin is relatively off the beaten path, its both an excellent budget destination, and a great place to immerse yourself in Mandarin.

From the urban to the rural, from the ancient to the modern, these destinations are all choice picks for studying Chinese abroad on a budget. Whether youd like somewhere thats easy not to break the bank, or youd like the freedom of choice to budget your finances yourself, there is a destination on this list for you.

Angelo Zepeda, graduate of the Western Michigan University Class of 2011, studied in Xian with International Programs, one of the many excellent providers operating in Xian. Xian was like stepping back in time, Angelo says. If youre a Chinese history buff, this is it. This is the place.

Bethany Jonesbrooke, a graduate of the Texas A&M Class of 2013, studied Chinese in Hangzhou her senior year. I didnt really know what to expect because I hadnt heard much about Hangzhou, but it was magical. It was so peaceful and beautiful! Its a Chinese city so it definitely has its crowded, busy, dirty parts, but if you can get out to the lake or away from downtown, its really very peaceful.

DaLonte Morris, graduate of the University of Massachusetts — Amherst Class of 2012, experienced this first hand. I wanted to learn Chinese because Im a business major, and its going to be useful in a few years. I wasnt sure about mainland China as a black man, so I went with Taiwan. I went to class in Taipei, where rent was a little pricey, but I spent most of my time around other parts of the island. I bought a scooter for cheap, and did my own thing.

The Chinese have a saying: Above there is heaven; below there is Hangzhou. Even this high praise hardly seems to do justice to the waterfront serenity of this beautiful ancient city.

Dustin Swiggett, graduate of the Hofstra University Class of 2010, studied in Chengdu when money was tight. I wanted to learn Chinese but I just couldnt find any way to make the expensive cities work. Chengdu was perfect.

Well then you dont want Beijing — you want Xian. Yep, thats right. You may not have realized it, but every one of those criteria you described that make Beijing so perfect for you, actually describes Xian as well.

A 3-month program with CLI will cost$6,510and includes housing. Its a little more expensive ($7,310) if you choose to stay with a host family.

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A non-degree Chinese language course atXian Jiaotong-Liverpool Universitycosts about$1,312for a full semester. Their 2-week long summer course, however, will cost$540USD.

As for price, Hangzhou is primarily a Chinese city for Chinese citizens, so prices will seem low to most Americans. Apartments are cheap and widely available, and food is priced to be affordable to those who rely on it — namely, the Chinese working class. Couple this low price with the fact that Hangzhou actually has a sizeable student population due to the number of quality universities there, and you have the idea Chinese budget study abroad destination.

But this is discussion about budget study destinations, and the island of Taiwan does not disappoint. Escape from the urban excitement of Taipei to the southern nation park area of Kenting, and suddenly the beauty of the South Pacific unfolds gradually before you, the urban sprawl of the north is left behind, and prices begin to drop drastically.

There is more to making Guilin a top budget study abroad destination, however. First of all, there are numerous excellent universities and language schools there.Guangxi Normal Universityis one of the bestuniversities in China for international students, and its sprawling student-friendly campus is one of the citys main landmarks.

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Guilins natural beauty make an easy job of convincing someone to visit. President Richard Nixon said of the city, I have visited more than eighty countries and over a hundred cities. I have found that no city can surpass the beauty of Guilin. With some of the most striking geography anywhere in the world, coupled with the timeless, still elegance of the Li River, Guilin is dreamlike.

Additionally, because foreign English speakers are not altogether common, most local shopkeepers are tickled to death to help you practice your Chinese with them, and are both encouraging and patient.

A 4-week program withInternChinawill cost$2,124and includes housing. You can stay for up to 24 weeks in this program, which would cost$8,944.

While not quite Beijing, there are still many options for language students to customize their experience within the classroom, as well as outside of it.

Admittedly, when you think budget, you dont think one the hottest, most in-demand cities in the world. But thats what makes Shanghai so fantastic.

Chengdu is perhaps the most famous non-famous city in China. Known around the world as the home of the wild Great Pandas that make China famous, Chengdu is still a world away from anything you probably know. Decidedly off the beaten path, Chengdu is deep in the interior of China, far from the coastal cities of Beijing and Shanghai.

If youre a college student in China to learn Chinese, Chengdu hassome great programs from third-party providers, as well as seven different universities that accept foreign students. One of these, Sichuan University, has been ranked as one of the top universities in the nation and a genuine resume-builder to have in your pocket at job interviews. For other language learners, Chengdu is a big enough city to offer a good selection of language schools.

A 2-week intensive program withThats Mandarinstarts at$500and atThe Hutong School, its$812(without housing). Expect to budget about$30per day for housing and personal expenses.

Decidedly off the beaten path, Chengdu is deep in the interior of China, far from the coastal cities of Beijing and Shanghai.

Garrett Segerson is a graduate of the George Mason University Class of 2012 who taught English and studied Mandarin in Shanghai. Shanghai is just so big — big is how I would describe it — that you can find anything. If you want to have a nice four-star dinner, sure you can, but there are also a hundred little street food stalls where you can get the best Chinese food youve ever had for less than fifty cents.

A 3-month program withAsia Exchangewill cost$1,568for tuition. You can earn up to 30 credits in this program.

Away from the main city of Taipei, large swaths of Taiwan have a distinctly island feel, with relaxed dress codes, friendly locals, and low prices.

If youre still in college, you can either directly enroll in one of these genuinely world-class universities, or take your pick from our list ofstudy abroad programs in Shanghaiand tailor it to fit your budget. TheCET Programis especially good — and did we mention CET executive director Mark Lenhart has contributed his thoughts onthe importance of language studyon Go Overseass articles before?

Located just a few blocks from Guangxi Normal University is theChinese Language Institute, a highly-acclaimed Mandarin school run by two American brothers, that has taught everyone from college students to UN ambassadors. Its a great option for language learners of any age.

So go ahead and get excited, and start saving your pennies, because with affordable options like this, youre going to be sayingnihaoto learning Chinese before you even know it.

The city is known for its laid-back atmosphere — a relic from its agricultural past — and while there is some nightlife, there are far fewer trappings pawing at your purse strings. I got up, had breakfast, went for a walk or exercised, went to class, came home, made dinner or got it out, and just sort of enjoyed the evening. Not a lot of clubbing or shopping, which was actually a great thing for my budget, Dustin says.

But what Chengdu may lack in glitz and glamor, it makes up for it in other ways. Its beautiful, Dustin says. Just utterly, impossibly, mind-blowingly beautiful. Its a fantastic option for students who dont really feel like they need all the flash of the big cities.

If youre okay with a smaller-than-usual apartment, and living within your means, Shanghai can be a dream budget destination. As Garrett says, My wife and I were poor, and we made Shanghai work. Heck, it wasnt even that hard to make Shanghai work. Its great if you dont have a lot of money.

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An 8-week program with Thats Mandarin starts at$2,000and with The Hutong School,$2,294for a 3-month program with housing;$1,179without.

Urban Taipei is just like any other top-flight city in the world: great dining, great shopping, great entertainment. But most important to our discussion, it also has great universities. In fact, there are more than 40 universities in the northern capital city alone! With so many bright young minds originating from Taiwan, the higher education system is the envy of many a nation. Students of any ages can check out theTaiwan Mandarin Institute, which offers small class sizes and a 10% discount to Go Overseas readers.

Because of this reputation, Hangzhou, does suffer from seasonal inflation as a result to the influx of (mostly Chinese) tourists. During the busy season, Spring, prices in local shops will rise with demand, but this swell is small.

Sure, Shanghai is the bustling financial center of the worlds most booming economies, but it is also home to over twenty million residents — not all of whom are pulling in finance salaries.

Photo Credits:CelebrationGuilinShanghaiHangzhouXian.

A 4-week program withTaiwan Mandarin Institutewill cost$1,185, not including housing. You can stay anywhere from 1 week to 52 weeks. Budget at least$35a day for housing.

Angelo had considered Beijing, as he wanted to sharpen his Mandarin skills for business, but had limited financial resources. Beijing would have been doable, but a real stretch. Then my study abroad advisor suggested I look at Xian, and man, am I glad she did.

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