Cynthia Wu Peking University
San Francisco State University - Majoring in Chinese Language
I was born in Hong Kong, China, but raised in Los Angeles, California. I grew up learning Cantonese and English even though my family had spoken both Mandarin and Cantonese. I studied Japanese in high school, and I realized that I really like learning languages, especially East Asian languages. In college, I decided to start learning the language of my native roots and found that Chinese was a really fun language to learn. It is very difficult, but I found it interesting. I decided to study abroad at Peking University in Beijing, which has an intense program to learn and improve your Chinese.
Peking University is a beautiful campus. It has a bridge right by the main gate with koi and ducks swimming underneath the bridge. It feels like a garden and a forest rather than a university sometimes. When the skies are blue and the weather is nice, the campus is a nice place to relax and take a nice stroll and take pictures. There is a famous large lake in the middle of campus. In the winter, you can even rent ice skates and go ice skating on the lake.
During fall, the trees on campus are completely yellow. I, coming from a city like Los Angeles, have never really experienced a bright yellow-orange fall season like the one in Beijing. This is a picture of me near the main entrance with a beautiful tree. Its leaves will only last about a week before the wind will blow them all off. I was lucky enough to take pictures the weekend before they fell!
Finding a dorm in China is very difficult because housing is very limited. I didn't live in the dorms because it is quite expensive for the amount of space and quality you get. The CSU program gave us 3 days to find outside housing, but we managed to find it within a day and a half. It is quite stressful because you have a time limit, but don't worry because you'll find a good home in the end. This is a picture of my room in an apartment in Wudaokou, which is an area where most international students live.
In Beijing, you can find many activities to keep yourself fit. This is a group picture of us (all from the CSU China program) playing badminton outside our apartment building. Other than badminton, you can find people playing tennis, basketball, and even early in the morning, tai qi. Even if you don't like exercising, you find yourself losing weight! Beijing is a very large city, so the amount of walking you do every day adds up. One Chinese block equals three to five American blocks!
The Beijing subway is very fast and very convenient. It costs about two Chinese dollars for any one-way trip and about 25 Chinese dollars to go to the airport. The East Gate to Peking University subway stop has a mural of the main gate of Peking University (as pictured here). There are subway maps everywhere and every stop is written in pinyin, so you don't have to read the characters of the stops if you don't know how to read them yet.
Even though school can be demanding, on weekends it is fun to go visit fun tourist attractions in Beijing. In this picture, I am jumping in front of one of the buildings in Forbidden City. There aren't a lot of people because we went around closing time. It is best to arrive early because most of the tourist spots require many hours to look around and they close around 4pm or 5pm. You can also get discounts at these tourist attractions with a Peking University ID card.
There are many group trips that you can take with the CSU program. Our first group trip was to a place down south called Guilin. You can find a picture of Guilin on the back of the Chinese 20 dollar bill and it depicts the same scene you would see in real life. It is interesting how the mountains formed so many unique shapes.
Peking University also has a beautiful auditorium where performances are held. This performance for international students, with lots of different colored lights, costumes, bubbles, glitter and music, celebrates the 60th anniversary of foreigners studying at Peking University. If you ever wanted to watch a movie, you can go on campus and watch movies for a cheaper price than outside theaters.
Beijing has recently made more bullet trains to take to nearby places. My friends and I decided to take a day trip to Tianjin, which is 30 minutes away from Beijing by bullet train. One of the neatest things I found in Tianjin was a porcelain house, which was covered in broken pieces of china. It was amazing to see in real life, and it makes me realize how much there is to see in China. If you find yourself applying to the China program, you will find something unique about each place you explore.
Learn more about the study abroad program in China