Student Stories

Beijing Shops

Danny Qiao


RUC Exchange Program Experience

Beijing, China, Summer 2013


On a scale of 1-5, 5 being highest, please rate the following items:

  • How would you rate the overall experience? 5
  • How would you rate the quality of the language course? 3
  • How would you rate the teaching quality of the language course? 4
  • What China-related course did you take? China Population and Development
  • How would you rate the quality of the China focused course? 4
  • How would you rate the teaching quality of the China focused course? 4
  • How would you rate the on-campus accommodations? 5
  • Where did you stay? The International Culture Exchange Building
  • How would you rate the assistance by the staff of the School of Labor and Human Resources (SLHR)? 5
  • How would you rate the special lectures by the SLHR? 5
  • How would you rate the field trips arranged by the SLHR? 5
  • Yes or NO: given the opportunity, would you do the RUC Summer Program again? Why or why not?
  • Yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat because of all the new friends I made and because of the amazing time I had with all of them. Unforgettable memories and unforgettable people made the whole program so worthwhile.

Have any comments or additional information to share?

  • Always carry around either extra tissue or rolls of toilet paper with you.

Overall Experience

What dorm would you recommend to future students? Why?
 I lived in the most expensive option (120RMB per night), which was the International Culture Exchange Building and I had an AMAZING time there. My room was very nice it had air conditioning, new furniture, and a bathroom, but no Wi-Fi. The bedding situation is slightly different; the beds there are much harder and devoid of a real comforter. Also, in the basement of the building is a little café and small shop place that’s like a 7/11 store. It was real easy to just grab a small snack in the morning before heading to class. At night, the stairs in front of the building turned out to be a major hangout area for the other RUC Summer School students, and it was there where I met some of the coolest people from all over the world.

Campus Life
What were orientation & field trip events like?
Not exactly sure if there was what we would call an orientation; however, the field trips were definitely cool and worthwhile.

What were your favorite places to hang out?
My favorite hangout was outside of the International Culture Exchange Building by the stairs and in some of the nearby dining halls.

What were your favorite extracurricular activities?
Heading out into the city of Beijing, whether it's to Wudaokou, Tiananmen, Sanlitun, or Wangfujing. Checking out the city resulted in the most remarkable experiences.

Name one interesting place you visited and tell us what you liked about it.
Sanlitun! It’s a major chic and modern shopping hub for Beijing. By day, you can find the most famous brands of America and Europe along with some amazing restaurants. By night, it turns into the center of nightlife for Beijing, with all its bars, clubs, and KTVs. Many expats could be found in the area, generally.

Communication & Computers
Was Wi-Fi available in the dorms and on campus?
Wi-Fi is unavailable in the International Culture Exchange Building, but it is available in the other dorms. However, there is a wire for internet in the building, and RUC should be installing Wi-Fi sometime soon. On the 4th floor where I stayed, by the middle of the month, I somehow found a signal and was able to connect. As for the rest of campus, there are spots of sporadic signal bars all over, but there is definitely a strong signal in the classrooms.

What was the nature of your communications with the exchange program coordinator? In what way was it supportive?
I didn’t really communicate with the coordinator. We mainly dealt with other students.

What was the check-in process like at the international students’ office?
It was easy and simple. Just tell them that you’re checking in and they will handle the rest. You’ll have to sign some things and leave a 300RMB deposit and that’s it. But keep everything they give you safe!

Share any tips on communication that you think is helpful to future exchange students.
Talk with everyone and anyone. Everyone there is probably just as foreign as you.

What was your favorite course? What did you like about it?
 Out of the two courses I took, I enjoyed the China Population and Development more because of the course matter and how carefree the teaching environment was, despite being a largely Chinese student class.

What helped you stay focused in an academic environment where you are mostly self-driven?
Friends and family helped me stay focused, and because everyone else did it as well.

How did you organize your course materials for review by the ILR faculty committee?
Not too sure, I just chose what interested me.

What did you like the least about your exchange program experience, and suggest ways for improvement.
As in any college, class was fun, but it wasn’t that much fun especially when a class is over 3 and half hours long.

Did you work while on exchange? If so where, what did you do, and what was it like to work in another culture?
Lianne and I sought some sort of teaching English job due to our high Chinese language capabilities, but it did not end up working out. We were offered a tutoring position for a professor’s children, but time was too short and they were off on another program.

How did you hear about this job?
One of our RUC student liaisons referred us.

How much did it pay, and did you have to pay taxes?
It would have been 150RMB each per hour and all in cash.

Health & Safety
What health and safety issues did you encounter, if any? How did you resolve it?
Mainly the runs every now and then from who knows what, but it was nothing a quick trip to the bathroom didn’t solve. The smog was bad on some days, but it was never truly suffocating. We saw the blue sky or had rain more or less for most of the days. You could bring and wear one of those filter masks but you’ll be making a bold fashion statement. There is an app you could download that tells the air quality.

What were the most useful things you packed, and what do you recommend to leave behind?
Definitely my lucky dinosaur figurine and tank tops because I sweat a lot. Besides the clothes on my back and a laptop, most things are really cheap in a local mall or market. Having a cheap phone with a pay-as-you-go SIM card was undoubtedly helpful, and buying a Virtual Private Network VPN (or using Cornell’s) was also a huge relief. Leave behind everything that you did not use at Cornell; seriously.

How did you get from the airport to the university and about town? How much does it cost?
A family friend drove me to and from the airport to the university but by subway it would have taken 2RMB, or less than a dollar.

What were the most reliable sources of information for cultural events, news, travel, weather?
The most reliable sources were the same basic sources of information that you would use in America. But if it’s something you need to access on-line, you may need a VPN to access it. Check out Cornell’s!

How did you exchange money, and where did you find an ATM?
The banks are usually able to exchange money and there are ATMs all over the place.

Is there anything else you would like to share with prospective ILR exchange students and the ILR community that we haven’t asked?
Come in with an open-mind and open heart. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be asked questions. You’ll have a truly amazing time of your life. Also, be careful around open manholes. Trust me; you do NOT want to fall down one.

How did you choose this particular program for a student exchange program?
I knew I wanted to study the labor/population situation in China, and what better way than to get involved with the #1 school for labor and industrial relations in China?

What was your overall academic experience like?
The experience was pretty solid and I have no regrets.

What did you enjoy the most of your exchange program experience?
I enjoyed the unforgettable memories and friends from all over the world.

- Danny Qiao's RUC Exchange Program Experience